Educational Effectiveness of
GEMS units can serve as strong curricular support to the national science
and mathematics education reform efforts now underway, represented by
the move toward implementation of national standards in science and
For information relating to the effectivenss of Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading® please visit http://seedsofscience.org/papers/ and see the effectivness studies section.
Three studies look at the GEMS Curriculum Sequences:
Two studies were conducted by a team at Florida State University. The first is titled, "Comparing the Efficacy of Reform-Based and Traditional/Verification Curricula to Support Student Learning about Space Science" and reports on the relationship between reform-based curriculum and the development of students’ knowledge of and attitudes toward space science. It can be downloaded here. The second, "Learning about Space Science: Comparing the efficacy of reform based teaching with a traditional/verifications approach" explores the relationship between curriculum and teachers’ knowledge and beliefs about teaching. The full report can be downloaded here.
A report conducted by the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (REA) examines student learning, as shown by unit pre/post assessment change, in the GEMS Space Science Sequence for Grades 6–8. REA, based at Lawrence Hall of Science, conducts both internal and external evaluation and research in mathematics and science education. Evaluation questions for this project took into consideration concerns and interests of curriculum funders, the curriculum development team, and potential users. Evidence of student learning is of primary interest to all stakeholders and is therefore the overarching question for this evaluation. Download the report here.
The information presented below relates to effectiveness of the GEMS Teachers' Guides:
In addition to the studies discussed below, GEMS was evaluated by the
United States Department of Education's Mathematics and Science Education
Expert Panel and found to be a "Promising Science Program."
We have posted information on both the panel
and the criteria they used in evaluating programs, and on their evaluation of the GEMS curriculum.
(PDF Documents; Adobe
Acrobat required to view).
In "The Educational Effectiveness of GEMS Activities," the
GEMS Leaders Handbook summarizes a variety of research studies
that demonstrate the general effectiveness of the inquiry-driven, activity-based
approach to science education, including the classic studies of Bredderman,
Kyle, Shymansky, and others, as well as the work of Karplus, Thier,
Atkin, and others on the learning cycle. GEMS units and other curricula
developed at LHS are grounded in this approach. The GEMS development
team endeavors to stay abreast of new developments in educational research,
new approaches to assessment, and to take such findings into account
as guides are developed and revised. (Barber, J., Bergman, L, and Sneider,
C: "The Educational Effectiveness of GEMS Activities" and
Sneider, C. "GEMS and Research: Three Case Studies" in the
GEMS Leaders Handbook, pages 1932, 1988, 1994, 1997.) A summary of the research is here.
From the inception of GEMS, the program has been involved in a number
of collaborative projects funded by state and federal agencies, foundations,
or corporate philanthropy. Many of these projects were based on curriculum
sequences of GEMS units for primary and intermediate students and their
teachers, sometimes in association with other activity-based curricula.
Formal evaluations from a number of these projects indicate that the
GEMS curriculum and instructional strategies have made a significant
positive impact on student learning (as well as on attitudes toward
learning and professional development). As relevant, pertinent aspects
of these evaluations will be included under the appropriate headings.
There are also several research studies that demonstrate the educational
effectiveness of specific GEMS units, and their findings have been applied
to the development of a significant number of other GEMS units.
These studies and evaluations indicate that the GEMS program:
makes a significant and measurable difference in and impact
on student learning;
improves student and teacher understanding and practice of inquiry;
has the demonstrated capability of reaching all students, including
historically underrepresented groups, special education and gifted students,
in a wide variety
of settings and regions;
fosters positive attitudes and motivation of students and teachers
in science and mathematics; and
has considerable additional evidence of effectiveness and success.
Below, as an organizer, is a listing of these evaluation reports and
studies, which are then linked to a more complete discussion of the
Evidence of gains in student understanding
Earth, Moon, and Stars Research Studies
Galaxy Classroom Project (Pilot Program 1991-95) funded by Hughes
Air and NSF
PEACHES I Project (GEMS units), 19891994, funded by NSF
Seabrook GEMS Site studies, 1997, 1999
Evidence of gains in inquiry, reasoning,
and problem-solving skills.
Experimenting with Model Rockets Research Studies
Galaxy Classroom Project Grades 35 (Pilot Program 1991-1995)
funded by Hughes Air and NSF
Evidence of improvements in course
enrollment, graduation rates, and
post-secondary school attendance.
GEMS and Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA)
Evidence of narrowing the gap in achievement
of accomplishment between diverse groups.
Experimenting with Model Rockets Focus on Girls/Young
Primary Institute in Science and Mathematics (PRISM) Project
(19901997), funded by NSF
Galaxy Classroom Project (Pilot Program 1991-1995) funded by
Hughes Air and NSF
Additional evidence of effectiveness
Bridging Preschool and Kindergarten through Science and MathematicsPEACHES
II, (1994-1999) funded by NSF
Primary Institute in Science and Mathematics (PRISM) Project,
II (1994-1997), NSF
GEMS by Satellite Distance Learning Project, funded by Department
River CuttersAAAS Project 2061 analysis and revision
Science Core Assignments Program, New Standards Project, National
Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) (1997-1998)
The School Community Mathematics Project (SCMP) 1990-1994, funded
by the California Post-secondary Education Commission (CPEC), Eisenhower
Mathematics and Science Education State Grant Program
Study on the Learning Station Approach
GEMS Model Schools (or Districts)
GEMS Sites and Centers: Other Evidence of Success