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 mathematics.
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 .
In "The Educational Effectiveness of GEMS Activities," the GEMS Leader’s 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 19–32, 1988, 1994, 1997.)
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.