Morehouse, H. (2009). Making the most of the middle: A strategic model for middle school afterschool programs. Afterschool Matters, 8, 1–10.
This paper summarizes key design elements for programs for middle-school-aged children, addressing issues of relationships, relevance, reinforcement, real-life projects, and rigor. The authors argue that these five components take into account the intellectual and emotional developmental needs of this age range.
Mallya, A., Mensah, F. M., Contento, I. R., Koch, P. A., & Calabrese Barton, A. (2012). Extending science beyond the classroom door: Learning from students’ experiences with the Choice, Control, and Change (C3) curriculum. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49(2), 244–269.
This paper explores how a school-day science and nutrition curriculum, Choice, Control and Change (C3), shaped student thinking, decision making, and actions outside the classroom. The curriculum taught health science content and engaged students in activities focused on analyzing and changing their personal health choices.
Johnson, C. C. (2011). The road to culturally relevant science: Exploring how teachers navigate change in pedagogy. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(2), 170–198.
This article reports on a case study of two middle school science teachers who took part in professional development designed to help them enact culturally relevant pedagogy in their classrooms. The long-term and community-oriented aspects of the professional development seemed to play a vital role in supporting the teachers’ success.
Barton, A. C., & Tan, E. (2009). Funds of knowledge and discourse and hybrid space. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(1), 50–73.
This design experiment integrated students’ everyday discourses and knowledge into classroom scientific practice, thereby allowing for the creation of hybrid spaces, where students were able to meaningfully apply science learning to their everyday lives. This research shows that providing students with opportunities to co-author their learning can engage students more deeply.
Jurow, A. S. (2005). Shifting engagements in figured worlds: Middle school mathematics students' participation in an architectural design project. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 14(1), 35–67. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls1401_3
In-class projects can be an effective way for students to learn subject material that relates to authentic problems people address outside of classrooms. Jurow investigated middle-schoolers’ participation in an in-school math project based on the premise of creating a research station in Antarctica. Students’ engagement with the project and meaning making with math content shifted as students navigated through the different and often competing figured worlds of the classroom and “Antarctica.”
Birmingham, D., & Calabrese Barton, A. (2014). Putting on a green carnival: Youth taking educated action on socioscientific issues. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 51(3), 286–314.
Through a critical ethnography, Birmingham and Calabrese Barton examined why and how a group of six middle school girls took civic action, defined as “educated action in science,” after studying green energy in an afterschool science program. The paper follows the students’ process in planning and implementing a carnival to engage their community in energy conservation and efficiency issues.
Jaakkola, T., Nurmi, S., & Veermans, K. (2011). A comparison of students’ conceptual understanding of electric circuits in simulation only and simulation-laboratory contexts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(1), 71–93.
This article makes a case for providing multiple types of hands-on resources to support learner inquiry. More specifically, a computer simulation of an electric circuit complemented work with a real circuit to support learners’ conceptual development. When learners had the opportunity to use both simulated and real circuits, less structured guidance seemed to benefit the inquiry process.
Endreny, A. H. (2010). Urban 5th graders conceptions during a place-based inquiry unit on watersheds. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(5), 501–517.
A place-based approach to an inquiry unit on watersheds created opportunities for the development of student conceptions of the human and natural components of urban watersheds. Through direct inquiry experience in the natural environment, student learning and attachment to place was observed.
Anderman, E. M., Sinatra, G. M., & Gray, D. L. (2012). The challenges of teaching and learning about science in the twenty-first century: Exploring the abilities and constraints of adolescent learners. Studies in Science Education, 48(1), 89–117.
In this paper, Anderman and colleagues examine the skills adolescents need in order to learn science effectively. They note that many negative experiences associated with science learning could be avoided if educators were more aware of the abilities of adolescents and the types of environments that foster particular abilities. They offer seven recommendations to practitioners.
Punter, P., Ochando-Pardo, M. & Garcia, J. (2011) Spanish secondary school students’ notions on the causes and consequences of climate change. International Journal of Science Education, 33(3), 447–464.
This study presents a disappointing account of Spanish secondary school students’ knowledge and understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change. Many of the key factors responsible for climate change are not recognized, whilst significant socioeconomic consequences of climate change, for example, increasing migration and food shortages, are rarely acknowledged.