Interactive Learning & Design Lab


CoMPASS: Integrating Digital Text in Design-based Science Classrooms

Funded by National Science and technology Digital Library (NSDL) $435,000

PI: Sadhana Puntambekar, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Co-PIs: Roland Hübscher, Bentley College, and Sanjay Rebello, Kansas State University.

This project has two major goals. First is aim to further the understanding of integrating the conceptual learning from informational text with the experimental and hands-on activities in design-based classes. Second is the aim to understand students' changing representations as they use multiple texts in their science explorations. Hands-on activities in which students experience and manipulate scientific phenomena are an integral part of current project-based and design-based approaches to science learning. However, a concern raised about the focus on hands-on activities is that students can concentrate on the construction activities, and build a working solution by trial and error, without understanding the underlying deep science principles and phenomena. 

Research has pointed out the important role of language in science, emphasizing that reading, writing, and communicating are essential aspects of helping students construct science understanding. However, informational text is seldom used to complement the rich and interactive nature of hands-on activities.