WWC review of this study

Combined Years 2 (2012-13) and 3 (2013-14) secondary VISTA student level impact analysis: Secondary science SOL achievements with earlier science SOL covariates - Students nested within teachers [8th Grade].

Konold, T., Maeng, J.L., & Bell, R.L. (2015). Fairfax, VA: VISTA. Retrieved from website: 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

2 Years

Full sample;
2,554 students




More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Science scaled test

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

1 Year

Cohorts 2 and 3;
1,825 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.

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The intervention occurred in Virginia. In the 8th grade sample, 31 teachers were assigned to the intervention and 11 were assigned to the comparison group.

Study sample

The authors did not describe the sample characteristics.

Intervention Group

This study evaluated the effects of the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA) program on 8th and 9th grade students. The authors provided little information on the program in the summary. According to the program's website (vista.gmu.edu), VISTA uses "proven methods to harness the potential of every student through hands-on, problem-based learning (PBL)". Students engage in self-directed learning, work on creative problems through hands-on material, and are prompted to reflect on "the effectiveness of their solutions". In order to accomplish these tasks, teachers assigned to the intervention condition received professional development during the summer. According to the program's website, professional development typically lasts 4 weeks and teachers are taught how to implement problem-based learning techniques.

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.


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