Discovery Learning Research Center


The DLRC seed grant program was established in Spring 2004. It was designed to stimulate innovation and research in interdisciplinary teaching and learning; encourage implementation tests of new teaching and learning initiatives based on research into discovery-based learning; and develop initiatives that build on Discovery Park research programs. For information on the current Seed Grant solcitation, please click here.

2008 Seed Grant Program

The winners of the fifth annual DLRC seed grant program are as follow: Portable Immersive Virtual Learning Environment for Biotechnology Education, Kari Clase, Jenna Rickus, Nicoletta Adamo-Villani, and Aman Yadav. This project funds the development of a VR tool that could be applied to multiple learners in STEM education. Effective student learning in science, technology, and mathematics requires presentation of material in ways that are interesting and accessible to the learner. Further, to effectively learn new content, students must abandon misconceptions and adopt new and more correct knowledge. Teachers, as the guides to student learning, are fundamental to effective transfer of STEM knowledge. The proposed project will develop a tool that will be used to examine the efficacy of Virtual Reality as a mechanism for infusing the knowledge and excitement of cutting-edge research into the high school and undergraduate classroom. The proposed tool will be used to validate an interactive module using portable immersive virtual technology to teach abstract concepts in biology and engineering. The interactive module will allow students (and teachers) to enter and manipulate the parts of a cell, discovering first hand the effects that permutations have on the system. Users will confront misconceptions as they interact within the Virtual Learning Environment. The general goal of the project is to develop professional resources and tools for the instruction of K-12 and undergraduate students and teachers in the interdisciplinary field of industrial biotechnology (integration of biology, engineering and technology) with specific applications to emerging industrial needs, such as bioenergy. The specific objective of this work is to: Develop an immersive, interactive, 3D-animation based Virtual Learning Environment for biotechnology education. The module can be delivered on low-cost portable immersive virtual reality systems.

Online Spanish Tutor (OST): A Self-Assessed Pronunciation Primer with Biofeedback, Maria Cooks, M.J.T. Smith, and Aaron Ault. The goal of this project is to build a pronunciation practice and remediation tool to improve instruction and student proficiency in a foreign language. This will be achieved by creating new computer tools to augment and conceivably replace the existing classroom instructional pronunciation correction and repair methods. Evaluation of both the new tool and the current methods will be made using test groups of students.

Test-Enhanced Learning in a Computer-Based Instructional Program for Nursing Students, Jeffrey Karpicke, Jane Kirkpatrick, and James Lehman. The proposed project will improve student learning in computer-based instructional programs for students in health-related fields. This research lies at the intersection of cognitive science, educational technology, and student learning, and the project brings together three professors from three colleges within Purdue. Specifically, this research will investigate Test-Enhanced Learning, the fact that having students practice retrieving knowledge from memory produces large gains in learning and long-term retention. Our goal is to apply Test-Enhanced Learning to improve learning in computer-based instructional programs used with nursing students. We outline three experiments designed to address three preliminary questions about how Test-Enhanced Learning can be implemented to improve computer-based instruction.

A Prototype Project for Integrating Technology in Middle School Climate Change Curriculum Modules and Developing Partnerships with Informal Science Community, Dev Nivogi, Dan Shepardson, Natalie Carroll, and Don Jones. We are requesting seed funding to coordinate the development of potentially two (or more) extramural research grants with specific focus on climate and climate change activities for middle school students and teachers. The proposing team will also seek developing partnerships with computational science and technology/visualization centric education researchers in developing cyber-enabled or technology based learning modules for climate change modules to integrate NOAA visualization and digital products within climate change modules. The proposals build on an existing NSF Geoscience education grant in which Dan Shepardson (PI) and Dev Niyogi (coPI) are developing Climate Change Activities and Modules for middle school teachers (currently being field tested at three schools).

Learning and Engagement in Social Spaces: Development of an Acoustics-based Model of Measurement, Johannes Strobel and Woei Hung. This research project seeks to develop a model of measurement of learning and engagement in physical social spaces. The developed model will be acoustics-based. In its ultimate form, this research agenda would be able to describe and evaluate engagement and learning by analyzing the sound and the acoustics of the social space in which it occurs. The research is driven by the following questions:

  1. How do the acoustics and the sound of an engaging social interaction of students differ from the acoustics/sound of a less engaging interaction?
  2. What are acoustic characteristics of physical spaces with a high affordance of interaction?
  3. How feasible, reliable and valid is a model of acoustics measurement of social spaces of learning and engagement?

Purdue Center for Serious Games and Learning in Virtual Environments, William Watson, Tim Newby, Michael Witt, and David Blakesley. This proposal requests funds to help establish the Purdue Center for Serious Games and Learning in Virtual Environments. The center will be an important resource for Purdue as well as K-12 teachers in implementing engaging and interactive instruction in the classroom. It will be housed in the College of Education at Purdue and will serve to support innovative instructional practices across Purdue as well as establish a framework for developing and implementing cutting edge instruction for both K-12 and higher education classrooms.

2007 Seed Grant Program

The fourth annual DLRC seed grant program, the Games-to-Teach Competition, generated four finalists. The DLC, along with Continuing Education and Conferences, the Purdue Research Foundation, the Office of Information Technology, and the Colleges of Engineering, Education, and Science, funded the $150,000 prize to design an online, gaming-based course for Purdue credit to be offered by Fall 2009. Daniel DeLaurentis, an Assistant Professor in Aeronautics and Astronautics; Sean Brophy, an Assistant Professor in Engineering Education; and David Ebert, a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering are developing a multiplayer, online, "serious" game for the Introduction to Aerospace Design course. They plan to have a prototype by Summer 2008.

Prior Years' Seed Grants


Discovery Learning Research Center
207 South Martin Jischke Drive, Suite 203
West Lafayette , IN 47907-1791

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