Learning Through Collaborative Design: Professional Development to Foster Productive Epistemic Discourse in Science

This project will investigate the role of collaborative design in supporting teachers' professional growth around productive epistemic discourse in high school science classrooms. The project will examine an activity that is often used for the generation of curricular materials, collaborative design, and explore its promise in fostering biology teachers' professional growth as part of a larger professional development experience focused on epistemic practice.

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Florida State University will investigate the role of collaborative design in supporting teachers' professional growth around productive epistemic discourse in high school science classrooms. The project, Learning Through Collaborative Design Professional Development to Foster Productive Epistemic Discourse in Science, will examine an activity that is often used for the generation of curricular materials, collaborative design, and explore its promise in fostering biology teachers' professional growth as part of a larger professional development experience focused on epistemic practice. It will establish epistemic discourse as both a means of communication and a learning outcome in high school biology classrooms. The program goals are to understand the role of collaborative designs in shaping science teachers' learning about and enactment of instruction that fosters productive epistemic discourse in science, and to produce knowledge about teacher learning that can inform the design of professional development programs around productive epistemic discourse in science. The outcomes of this research will provide insight into teacher learning around a more robust understanding of science teaching, design principles essential in creating effective approaches to professional development, and a field tested professional development experience. Both the research and the teacher professional growth provided by project will involve a total of 70 teachers and their students.

This research project will include two cycles of design and development of the professional development experience. It will include mixed methods and a longitudinal examination of teacher and student learning fostered by professional development. The research for the first phase will be qualitative in nature and will result in a series of case studies that highlight different facets of the interactions that influence teachers' learning. Following this qualitative phase, through a field study that employs multivariate analysis of covariance and hierarchical linear models analytical techniques, the effectiveness of the design and development stages will be compared to an alternative professional development experience that is similar to the project's professional development but does not include collaborative design.

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