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IES Grant

Title: A Practice-Based Approach to Professional Development in Science in Urban Elementary and Middle Schools
Center: NCER Year: 2010
Principal Investigator: Rosebery, Ann Awardee: Technical Education Research Centers, Inc. (TERC)
Program: Teaching, Teachers, and the Education Workforce      [Program Details]
Award Period: years Award Amount: $1,500,134
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A100176

Co-Principal Investigator: Beth Warren

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to design, develop, and test a practice-based inquiry approach to professional development that prepares new teachers in urban districts to move K–8 science teaching toward more rigorous, engaged and equitable learning for their students. The proposed project is collaboration between the Chèche Konnen Center at Technical Education Research Centers (TERC), the Boston Teacher Residency of the Boston Public Schools, and two partner public K–8 schools in Boston.

Project Activities: Researchers will develop a coherent, sustained and meaningful program of practice-based professional development for new teachers. Researchers will develop a set of structured case-based materials. Participating teachers will reason through cases in cycles of inquiry organized around key professional learning practices. In addition, teachers will generate records of instructional practice from their own classroom experimentation and take these up for analysis in the cycle of inquiry.

Products: Products include a fully developed, innovative curriculum and pedagogy of practice-based professional learning. Researchers will also produce peer reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in large urban school systems in Boston, Massachusetts

Sample: Participating teachers will include new K–8 teachers in large urban school systems. These teachers will have been teaching 5 years or less, and will be teaching students from low-income households, of African descent, or who speak a first language other than English at home.

Intervention: The professional development activities will be centered in a school-based seminar designed to introduce new teachers to practice-based inquiry, i.e., investigations into everyday practice, as a form of professional learning. The intervention will draw from research-based classroom examples and informed by related work in the field. Teachers will reason through cases in cycles of inquiry organized around three key professional learning practices: a) seeing and hearing their students' diverse ways of making sense of the world as generative intellectual resources in science learning and teaching, b) experimenting pedagogically with expansive learning spaces, and c) adaptively planning curriculum in ways responsive to students and responsible to the discipline. Teachers will complete work to generate records of practice from their own classroom experimentation and take these up for analysis in the cycle of inquiry.

Research Design & Methods: The research team will design, implement, evaluate, and revise the innovation iteratively. The research is guided by questions about elements of the innovation, teacher learning, and student learning. Using descriptive methods to inform the instructional design, the research team will examine how participants take up, make sense of, and use the case materials within and across seminar sessions. The researchers will also explore the extent to which teachers' skill in using the three key practices of practice-based inquiry changes over time. The team will also determine the relationship of changes in teacher practice to student learning in science. Researchers will use a mixed methods approach, collecting both qualitative and quantitative data at multiple tiers, i.e., formative and summative data on teacher learning and summative data on student learning.

Control Condition: There is no comparison condition for this study.

Key Measures: Key measures for this project include videotapes of each professional development session; log records of each session kept by the instructors (noting, for example, activities that proceeded as anticipated, unexpected challenges and opportunities, and suggestions for revision); and written feedback from participants in the form of comment cards following each session. Researchers will use the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol+ to assess the extent to which participating teachers teach science in ways that are responsive to students and responsible to the discipline. Researchers will measure students' science test performance (pre and post), using district adopted end of unit science tests. In addition, the research team will look at student talk and engagement in science (pre and post) by reviewing videotapes collected in the Science Discussion task and focusing on students' talk and activity.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use a combination of interaction analysis, descriptive data analysis, and discourse analysis to analyze the data.

** This project was submitted to and funded under Teacher Quality: Mathematics and Science Education in FY 2010.