In Modeling Across the Curriculum we provide students with specialized online activities that have embedded guidance and assessment. This is possible because all the activities use Pedagogica, a software environment developed by the Concord Consortium. With Pedagogica we can control many aspects of the learners' interactions with the software tools by changing the available options, the nature of the scaffolding (or guidance tools), the instructions, and the assessments. Pedagogica automatically reports student progress through these lessons via the client/server connection. This provides us with real-time, fine-grained, and educationally significant data on student learning. All this information is available both to the teachers and to the researchers. As we refine the Pedagogica-based activities, schools receive automatic updates of the software.
The online activities incorporate specialized modeling software for topics in physical science, chemistry, and biology. These interactive activities challenge students to solve a problem and then monitor and react to their actions. We will collect data, both on and off the computer, that will enable us to measure student gains in three areas: modeling skills, specific content knowledge, and general understanding of science. The software will automatically document how students interact with the activities and enable us to track their learning over time.