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Effects of Making Sense of SCIENCE Professional Development on the Achievement of Middle School Students, Including English Language Learners




The study, Effects of Making Sense of SCIENCE professional development on the achievement of middle school students, including English language learners, found that grade 8 teachers who received the professional development had greater content knowledge about force and motion and confidence in teaching force and motion than teachers who did not receive the professional development. However, there was no impact of the program on students’ physical science test scores.

The Making Sense of Science Force and Motion course for teachers incorporates physical science content, analysis of student work and thinking, and classroom instruction to develop teacher expertise about force and motion and science instruction. The course emphasizes inquiry-based instruction practices.

The study was conducted from spring 2009 through spring 2010 in 137 schools served by 55 districts in Arizona and California. The study sample included 181 teachers who were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group (90 to intervention and 91 to control). Outcomes were measured for teachers during both the 2008/09 and 2009/10 school years and for students during the 2009/10 school year. The impact analyses included 133 teachers and 5,130 students in grade 8. The study’s key outcome variables—teacher and student content knowledge in force and motion, student academic achievement in physical science, teacher confidence in teaching force in motion—were assessed with project administered tests (ATLAST’s Test of Force and Motion), the California Standards Test in science, and teacher surveys.

The RCT summary for this project is available at
Publication Type:

NCEE/REL Evaluation Report

Online Availability:
Publication Date:
March 2012