WWC review of this study

The effect of professional development on elementary teachers’ understanding and implementation of reforms-based science instruction.

Maeng, J. L., Bell, R. L., Konold, T., & Whitworth, B. A. (2015). Fairfax, VA: VISTA. Retrieved from http://vista.gmu.edu/.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: January 2017

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Science Achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Science scaled test

Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: 5;
2,733 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y



Teachers in the intervention group came from 72 Virginia elementary schools, and teachers in the comparison group came from 60 different Virginia elementary schools. Students in the intervention group came from 38 teacher teams, and students in the comparison group came from 22 teacher teams.

Study sample

Student level sample characteristics were not provided. The proportion of female vs. male teachers is relatively equivalent between conditions, and the groups are relatively equivalent in the proportions of teachers who are Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American in both conditions. Among the larger teacher sample of 199 teachers in the intervention group and 143 teachers in the comparison group, about 87% were female and 13% were male. About 78% were Caucasian teachers, and 19% were African-American teachers.

Intervention Group

The Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA) is a professional development program for teachers that includes a four-week professional development program during the summer, and follow-up professional development during the school year. Professional development is structured in school teams, and focused on problem-based learning (PBL), Inquiry strategies, and the nature of science (NOS), aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL). The intervention time period was one year at the time of analysis.

Comparison Group

The comparison condition was business as usual in non-VISTA schools.

Support for implementation

The VISTA professional development program has several supports for implementation of problem-based learning, explicit science instruction, and inquiry instruction: 1) intense 4-week summer institute with 14 hours of follow-up sessions and attendance at statewide science conference; 2) coaches work with teachers during the summer institute and for 22.5 hours during the academic year; 3) researchers also provide content support and instruction; and 4) the school team structure provides support for implementation of strategies in their classrooms.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Konold, T., Maeng, J. L., & Bell, R. L. (2015). Combined Years 2 (2012-13) and 3 (2013-14) elementary VISTA student level impact analysis: Grade 5 science SOL achievements with grade 3 science SOL covariates - Students nested within schools (Teacher Teams). Fairfax, VA: VISTA. Retrieved from https://vista.gmu.edu/


Your export should download shortly as a zip archive.

This download will include data files for study and findings review data and a data dictionary.

Connect With the WWC

back to top