Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Strengthening School Leaders' Instructional Leadership Practice Through Developing Teachers' Abilities to Integrate Technology in Support of Student Learning
Center: NCER Year: 2011
Principal Investigator: Dexter, Sara Awardee: University of Virginia
Program: Education Leadership      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,731,359
Goal: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A110913

Purpose: The research team proposes to develop an intervention, CANLEAD (Cognitive Assistance Network, Learning Environment, and Database), that enables team members (principals, teacher-leaders, and technology specialists) to: (1) recognize what strong instruction in math and science looks like when it makes use of technology, and (2) foster integration of technology into math and science instruction that leads to improvements in student learning outcomes in math and science.

Project Activities: The core activity of this project is the iterative development of the CANLEAD intervention. Researchers will develop a leadership institute that consists of a series of face-to-face workshops on technology-supported instruction in math and science (including demonstrations, case studies, team assignments, and large-group discussions) and online instruction. The CANLEAD web-based software will create an online learning environment that includes curricula, math and science technology resources, planning tools, video-conferencing and social networking tools. In the first two years of the study, researchers will design, implement, and revise the series of face-to-face workshops and the online instruction. In the third year, researchers will pilot test the program in 16 Virginia middle schools (8 treatment, 8 control). Proximal outcomes of interest are: (1) leadership content knowledge (LCK) for all members of the leaderships teams; (2) teacher technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK); and (3) improved teacher instructional practice, both overall and specifically with respect to use of technology-enhanced math and science content. The distal outcomes of interest are student achievement in math and science as measured by the Virginia Standards of Learning tests, which are administered annually in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.

Products: Products include a fully developed, year-long CANLEAD intervention, including a series of face-to-face workshops, online curricula, and a web-based learning environment. Descriptions of the intervention, the development process, implementation, and preliminary outcomes will be shared in peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in 16 Virginia middle schools.

Population: Middle school leadership teams, consisting of principals, teacher-leaders, and technology specialists, are the main study participants and focus of the intervention. Math teachers, science teachers, and students at participating schools will also take part in the study.

Intervention: The CANLEAD intervention will consist of a year-long leadership institute and web-based learning environment that trains the leadership teams to: (1) recognize what strong instruction in math and science looks like when it integrates technology, and (2) carry out the instructional leadership practices needed to foster integration of technology into math and science instruction. Strong technology-supported instruction is defined as instruction that uses technology to support teaching practices and adds variety to the modalities, strategies, and materials used to teach math and science.

Research Design and Methods: The project's research questions are organized into three themes that align with each year of the project: usability; feasibility; and promise of efficacy. The first year of this project, researchers will adapt existing curriculum and software through an iterative design and development process to develop a prototype of the CANLEAD leadership institute and web-based learning environment. Researchers will develop a paper prototype of the CANLEAD intervention for review by expert practitioners, resulting in a version that will include the initial digital components for alpha testing and further review by expert practitioners. That version will be used for user testing. The version that emerges after user testing will be used for feasibility testing in an authentic education setting. During year two of the iterative development process, researchers will study the feasibility of CANLEAD's use in four Virginia middle schools; develop CANLEAD further in response to the data collected about its usefulness, strengths, and limitations; and make improvements needed to overcome barriers to its implementation. During the third year of the project, researchers will pilot test the program on school staff volunteers in eight randomly selected Virginia middle schools. Volunteer staff from eight comparable schools will serve as controls. Researchers will use multilevel models to analyze whether utilization of CANLEAD leads to changes in leadership content knowledge, teachers' technological pedagogical content knowledge, teachers' instructional practice, and ultimately greater improvements in math and science student achievement. Following the pilot study, researchers will again work together to revise or edit materials as needed. Subsequently, the research team will make final revisions to the software code, resulting in Version 5.0 of CANLEAD.

Control Condition: Eight middle schools in Virginia that are randomly selected to serve as control schools (out of a pool of 16 schools that volunteer to participate in the study).

Key Measures: Key measures include pre-post cognitive measures of leadership team members' LCK and teachers' TPCK, work experience sampling to collect behavioral data about leadership and teaching practices, computer logs to measure utilization of the CANLEAD learning environment, student engagement, and students' standardized test scores to assess whether the intervention holds promise for improving student learning outcomes in science and math.

Data Analytic Strategy: During the iterative development process, incremental changes in the intervention will be tried out and/or modified in response to proximal data, showing what does and does not seem to be working as well as intended. Click track measures will provide information on use of the types of information content contained in CANLEAD. These click track data will be used in conjunction with work experience sampling data to measure fidelity of implementation of CANLEAD. During the pilot testing stage, relative improvement in the treatment and control outcomes will be compared.

Project Website:

*This grant was originally funded through the Education Policy, Finance, and Systems topic in the 2011 Education Research Grants (84.305A) program.