Teacher Content Knowledge

Building a Teacher Knowledge Base for the Implementation of High-Quality Instructional Resources through the Collaborative Investigation of Video Cases (Collaborative Research: Jabon)

This project will address the pressing national need to generate shared, practice-based knowledge about how to implement freely available, high-quality instructional resources (mathematics formative assessment lessons) that have been shown to produce significant gains in student learning outcomes. It will expand a professional development model (Analyzing Instruction in Mathematics using the Teaching for Robust Understanding Framework (AIM-TRU)) that supports teacher learning about effective lesson implementation.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908311
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

This project will address the pressing national need to generate shared, practice-based knowledge about how to implement freely available, high-quality instructional resources (mathematics formative assessment lessons) that have been shown to produce significant gains in student learning outcomes. It will expand a professional development model (Analyzing Instruction in Mathematics using the Teaching for Robust Understanding Framework (AIM-TRU)) that supports teacher learning about effective lesson implementation. The backbone of AIM-TRU is a growing, open repository of video cases available to teachers and teacher educators across the U.S. who use or are interested in using the lessons. The repository will include tools such as a facilitator's guide to support teachers and teacher educators to engage in the model and collaboratively investigate the video cases. Consequently, the work will have the potential to engage teachers and teacher educators in improving mathematics education at scale. Because the video cases will capture implementation and ideas for improving instruction in schools serving populations who are underrepresented in mathematics, AIM-TRU will serve to improve mathematics education equitably.

Research questions focus on what teachers learn about high-quality mathematics instruction and instructional materials within a community of practice, and how that learning influences their teaching. In AIM-TRU, teachers engage in the collaborative investigation of video cases utilizing a shared repertoire that includes questioning protocols adapted from the Teaching for Robust Understanding (TRU) framework. This framework articulates five dimensions of classroom instruction that are necessary and sufficient to support students in becoming powerful mathematical thinkers. This affords teachers opportunities to use the TRU dimensions as lenses to diagnose common problems of practice that arise in implementation, and propose innovations and theories for improving instruction that can be tested in real classrooms and documented in new video cases. Analytic tools will be used from frame analysis to produce empirical evidence of what teachers are learning about instruction and instructional materials along the five dimensions of TRU. These data will be mapped to a random sample of video recordings of participating teachers' instruction, scored using the TRU Math Rubric, in order to link learning outcomes from the professional development to changes in instruction. Addressing these research questions will provide a deeper understanding and empirical evidence of learning within teacher collectives, the pressing national need to develop mechanisms to produce collective professional knowledge for teaching, and further efforts to understand the types of knowledge required for effective teaching.

Building a Teacher Knowledge Base for the Implementation of High-Quality Instructional Resources through the Collaborative Investigation of Video Cases (Collaborative Research: Wilson)

This project will address the pressing national need to generate shared, practice-based knowledge about how to implement freely available, high-quality instructional resources (mathematics formative assessment lessons) that have been shown to produce significant gains in student learning outcomes. It will expand a professional development model (Analyzing Instruction in Mathematics using the Teaching for Robust Understanding Framework (AIM-TRU)) that supports teacher learning about effective lesson implementation.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908185
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

This project will address the pressing national need to generate shared, practice-based knowledge about how to implement freely available, high-quality instructional resources (mathematics formative assessment lessons) that have been shown to produce significant gains in student learning outcomes. It will expand a professional development model (Analyzing Instruction in Mathematics using the Teaching for Robust Understanding Framework (AIM-TRU)) that supports teacher learning about effective lesson implementation. The backbone of AIM-TRU is a growing, open repository of video cases available to teachers and teacher educators across the U.S. who use or are interested in using the lessons. The repository will include tools such as a facilitator's guide to support teachers and teacher educators to engage in the model and collaboratively investigate the video cases. Consequently, the work will have the potential to engage teachers and teacher educators in improving mathematics education at scale. Because the video cases will capture implementation and ideas for improving instruction in schools serving populations who are underrepresented in mathematics, AIM-TRU will serve to improve mathematics education equitably.

Research questions focus on what teachers learn about high-quality mathematics instruction and instructional materials within a community of practice, and how that learning influences their teaching. In AIM-TRU, teachers engage in the collaborative investigation of video cases utilizing a shared repertoire that includes questioning protocols adapted from the Teaching for Robust Understanding (TRU) framework. This framework articulates five dimensions of classroom instruction that are necessary and sufficient to support students in becoming powerful mathematical thinkers. This affords teachers opportunities to use the TRU dimensions as lenses to diagnose common problems of practice that arise in implementation, and propose innovations and theories for improving instruction that can be tested in real classrooms and documented in new video cases. Analytic tools will be used from frame analysis to produce empirical evidence of what teachers are learning about instruction and instructional materials along the five dimensions of TRU. These data will be mapped to a random sample of video recordings of participating teachers' instruction, scored using the TRU Math Rubric, in order to link learning outcomes from the professional development to changes in instruction. Addressing these research questions will provide a deeper understanding and empirical evidence of learning within teacher collectives, the pressing national need to develop mechanisms to produce collective professional knowledge for teaching, and further efforts to understand the types of knowledge required for effective teaching.

Getting Unstuck: Designing and Evaluating Teacher Resources to Support Conceptual and Creative Fluency with Programming

The project will create opportunities for teachers to develop programming content knowledge and new understandings of the creative possibilities in computer science education, thereby increasing opportunities for students to develop conceptual and creative fluency with programming.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908110
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The project will create opportunities for teachers to develop programming content knowledge and new understandings of the creative possibilities in computer science education, thereby increasing opportunities for students to develop conceptual and creative fluency with programming. K-12 introductory programming experiences are often highly scaffolded, and it can be challenging for students to transition from constrained exercises to open-ended programming activities encountered later in-and out of-school. Teachers can provide critical support to help students solve problems and develop the cognitive, social, and emotional capacities required for conceptually and creatively complex programming challenges. Teachers - particularly elementary and middle school teachers, especially in rural and Title I schools - often lack the programming content knowledge, skills, and practices needed to support deeper and more meaningful programming experiences for students. Professional development opportunities can cultivate teacher expertise, especially when supported by curricular materials that bridge teachers' professional learning and students' classroom learning. This research responds to these needs, addressing key national priorities for increasing access to high-quality K-12 computer science education for all students through teacher professional development.

The project will involve the design and evaluation of (1) an online learning experience for teachers to develop conceptual and creative fluency through short, daily programming prompts (featuring the Scratch programming environment), and (2) educative curricular materials for the classroom (based on the online experience). The online experience and curricular materials will be developed in collaboration with three 4th through 6th-grade rural or Title I teachers. The project will evaluate teacher learning in the online experience using mixed-methods analyses of pre/post-survey data of teachers' perceived expertise and quantitative analyses of teachers' programs and evolving conceptual knowledge. Three additional 4th through 6th-grade teachers will pilot the curricular materials in their classrooms. The six pilot teachers will maintain field journals about their experiences and will participate in interviews, evaluating use of the resources in practice. An ethnography of one teacher's classroom will be developed to further contribute to understandings of the classroom-level resources in action, including students' experiences and learning. Student learning will be evaluated through student interviews and analyses of student projects. Project outcomes will inform how computer science conceptual knowledge and creative fluency can be developed both for teachers and their students' knowledge and fluency that will be critical for students' future success in work and life.

Professional Development for Teaching and Learning about Energy and Equity in High School Physics (Collaborative Research: Scherr)

This project will research and develop instructional materials and conduct professional development for teachers to help students understand energy flow. The project will create a model for secondary science teacher professional development that integrates science concepts with equity education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907815
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

This project will research and develop instructional materials and conduct professional development for teachers to help students understand energy flow, an important scientific concept with economic and social implications. This energy learning is the foundation for informed decision-making about sustainable and just use of energy resources. Energy issues are not only issues of science and technology, but must be integrated with civics, history, economics, sociology, psychology, and politics to understand and solve modern energy problems. Placing the scientific concept of energy in this social context presents an opportunity to advance science education as equitable and culturally responsive.

This project will create a model for secondary science teacher professional development that integrates science concepts with equity education. This model promotes a key epistemological issue: that science concepts are not culture-free or socially neutral ideas, but rather are concepts created and sustained by people in specific times and places for the purposes of (1) addressing specific social needs and (2) empowering people or groups of people. The two major components of the project are (1) the professional development experience, including both an intensive in-person summer workshop and an online professional learning community, and (2)an energy and equity portal, including an instructional materials library, an action research exchange, and a community forum for teacher discussions. The portal will provide technical resources to support the PLC, including support for sharing instructional materials and reporting on action research. The research plan includes exploratory, development and application phases. The researchers will identify teacher learning in the first iteration of PD, collect and analyze the instructional artifacts to inform how teacher engage with, participate in, and build an understanding energy as a historically and politically situated science concept. A team of scholar-videographers will observe, taking real-time field notes and making daily memos. The research team will use the instructional artifacts, video recordings, field notes, and memos as a basis for analysis through the next academic year. The result will be a nationally significant community of teacher-leaders and library of research-tested instructional materials that are responsive to students' scientific ideas, relevant to socio-political concerns about energy sustainability, respectful of students' cultures, and open to all students no matter their cultural background. Teachers participating in the project will learn to explain how scientific concepts of energy reflect culturally specific values, analyze socio-politically relevant energy scenarios, learn the historic and present-day inequities in the energy industry and in science participation, and be supported in preparing instruction for secondary students that is culturally responsive and relevant to their students' communities.

Professional Development for Teaching and Learning about Energy and Equity in High School Physics (Collaborative Research: Mason)

This project will research and develop instructional materials and conduct professional development for teachers to help students understand energy flow. The project will create a model for secondary science teacher professional development that integrates science concepts with equity education.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907950
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

This project will research and develop instructional materials and conduct professional development for teachers to help students understand energy flow, an important scientific concept with economic and social implications. This energy learning is the foundation for informed decision-making about sustainable and just use of energy resources. Energy issues are not only issues of science and technology, but must be integrated with civics, history, economics, sociology, psychology, and politics to understand and solve modern energy problems. Placing the scientific concept of energy in this social context presents an opportunity to advance science education as equitable and culturally responsive.

This project will create a model for secondary science teacher professional development that integrates science concepts with equity education. This model promotes a key epistemological issue: that science concepts are not culture-free or socially neutral ideas, but rather are concepts created and sustained by people in specific times and places for the purposes of (1) addressing specific social needs and (2) empowering people or groups of people. The two major components of the project are (1) the professional development experience, including both an intensive in-person summer workshop and an online professional learning community, and (2)an energy and equity portal, including an instructional materials library, an action research exchange, and a community forum for teacher discussions. The portal will provide technical resources to support the PLC, including support for sharing instructional materials and reporting on action research. The research plan includes exploratory, development and application phases. The researchers will identify teacher learning in the first iteration of PD, collect and analyze the instructional artifacts to inform how teacher engage with, participate in, and build an understanding energy as a historically and politically situated science concept. A team of scholar-videographers will observe, taking real-time field notes and making daily memos. The research team will use the instructional artifacts, video recordings, field notes, and memos as a basis for analysis through the next academic year. The result will be a nationally significant community of teacher-leaders and library of research-tested instructional materials that are responsive to students' scientific ideas, relevant to socio-political concerns about energy sustainability, respectful of students' cultures, and open to all students no matter their cultural background. Teachers participating in the project will learn to explain how scientific concepts of energy reflect culturally specific values, analyze socio-politically relevant energy scenarios, learn the historic and present-day inequities in the energy industry and in science participation, and be supported in preparing instruction for secondary students that is culturally responsive and relevant to their students' communities.

Usable Measures of Teacher Understanding: Exploring Diagnostic Models and Topic Analysis as Tools for Assessing Proportional Reasoning for Teaching

This project seeks to measure the kinds of knowledge developed in professional development (PD) programs that have been shown to matter for teachers' classroom practices and their students' learning. The project aims to develop an assessment that identifies patterns in the teachers' learning in a way that helps drive subsequent PD.The overall goal of this project is to pursue a potentially transformative approach to the assessment of teacher proportional knowledge by developing a measure that is well aligned with the content and skills taught in various PD programs.

Award Number: 
1813760
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

One of the great challenges related to teachers and their knowledge is measuring their learning in ways that are both formative and meaningful in relation to their likely impact on students. This challenge persists despite efforts to define the knowledge teachers should have and despite previous innovative efforts to create good measures. This project tackles the challenge by specifically aiming to measure the kinds of knowledge developed in professional development (PD) programs that has been shown to matter for teachers' classroom practices and their students' learning. The project aims to develop an assessment that identifies patterns in the teachers' learning in a way that helps drive subsequent professional development.

The overall goal of this project is to pursue a potentially transformative approach to the assessment of teacher proportional knowledge by developing a measure that is well aligned with the content and skills taught in various PD programs. This instrument will be based on a new approach that builds on emerging psychometric models. Specifically, diagnostic classification models (DCMs) will be utilized to diagnose teachers' learning during a PD program as well as employed to identify the progression in teachers' learning.  Statistical topic models (STMs) will be used to look for patterns of understanding that emerge from open-ended responses and provide natural-language insight into teachers' reasoning. A final version of the assessment will be constructed for a national sample based on the results from the predictive validity stage, and this version will be tested with teachers who participate in various types of PD programs targeting proportional reasoning. This project has broad implications for the creation of assessments and for teacher education. It will provide insights about whether there is a clear learning progression for teachers. While much work has been done with students' learning progression, much less is known about how teachers learn. Another implication is that the STM approach allows machine scoring of natural language in a way that highlights strengths and weaknesses in reasoning rather than simply returning a score. For formative use, this is information that is more helpful as it highlights areas for further instruction. A third implication is that DCMs will allow to assess teacher knowledge at a finer-grained understanding than is typically available, thus allowing for careful refinement of PD as well as a tool for showing overall growth in PD. A fourth implication is that a more systematic approach will be followed to capture the kinds of knowledge teachers need. Assessments developed using DCMs and STMs have the potential to serve as models for developing further instruments in other STEM content areas. Such assessments have the potential to not only help identify successful PD programs, but also to provide PD providers with rich data from which they can make instructional decisions.

Translating a Video-based Model of Teacher Professional Development to an Online Environment

This project will adapt an effective in-person teacher professional development model to an online approach. A defining feature of the Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA) Professional Development program is its use of videos of classroom instruction and examples of student work to promote teacher learning. Adapting the STeLLA program to an online learning model can reach a broader and more diverse audience, such as teachers working in rural school districts and underserved communities.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1813127
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Tue, 08/31/2021
Full Description: 

Improving the quality of teaching is essential to improving student outcomes. But what are the most effective ways to support teachers' professional development?  BSCS Science Learning and the University of Minnesota STEM Education Program Area explore this question by adapting an effective teacher professional development model -- that meets face-to-face in real-time -- to an online approach. A defining feature of the Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA) Professional Development program is its use of videos of classroom instruction and examples of student work to promote teacher learning. Skilled facilitators guide teachers' analysis and discussion of other teachers' work; then, teachers begin to apply the analytical techniques they have learned to their own teaching. Adapting the STeLLA program to an online learning model is important because it can reach a broader and more diverse audience such as teachers working in rural school districts and underserved communities. To further promote the reach of STeLLA, the online version of STeLLA will engage and prepare teacher leaders to support their peers' engagement and understanding.

Guided by theories of situated cognition and cognitive apprenticeship this project focuses on two questions: How can the STeLLA professional development model be adapted to an online environment? and Does participation in the online model show meaningful teacher and student outcomes related to science teaching and learning? Challenges related to adaptation include understanding the duration and intensity of teacher engagement, the quality of their science content learning experiences, and how teacher learning is scaffolded across the online and traditional model. The project will unfold in two phases. Phase 1 uses a design-based research approach to rapidly enact, test, and revise online program components while remaining true to the design principles underlying the traditional STeLLA PD program. Phase 2 uses a quasi-experimental approach to test STeLLA Online's influence on teacher content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, practice and on upper elementary student science achievement. Comparisons will be made between STeLLA Online, face-to-face STeLLA, and a traditional professional development program that emphasizes deepening content knowledge only. This comparison leverages data from a previously-completed cluster randomized trial of STeLLA funded by the NSF.

Supporting Teachers in Responsive Instruction for Developing Expertise in Science (Collaborative Research: Linn)

This project takes advantage of advanced technologies to support science teachers to rapidly respond to diverse student ideas in their classrooms. Students will use web-based curriculum units to engage with models, simulations, and virtual experiments to write multiple explanations for standards-based science topics. The project will also design planning tools for teachers that will make suggestions relevant research-proven instructional strategies based on the real-time analysis of student responses.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1813713
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

Many teachers want to adapt their instruction to meet student learning needs, yet lack the time to regularly assess and analyze students' developing understandings. The Supporting Teachers in Responsive Instruction for Developing Expertise in Science (STRIDES) project takes advantage of advanced technologies to support science teachers to rapidly respond to diverse student ideas in their classrooms. In this project students will use web-based curriculum units to engage with models, simulations, and virtual experiments to write multiple explanations for standards-based science topics. Advanced technologies (including natural language processing) will be used to assess students' written responses and summaries their science understanding in real-time. The project will also design planning tools for teachers that will make suggestions relevant research-proven instructional strategies based on the real-time analysis of student responses. Research will examine how teachers make use of the feedback and suggestions to customize their instruction. Further we will study how these instructional changes help students develop coherent understanding of complex science topics and ability to make sense of models and graphs. The findings will be used to refine the tools that analyze the student essays and generate the summaries; improve the research-based instructional suggestions in the planning tool; and strengthen the online interface for teachers. The tools will be incorporated into open-source, freely available online curriculum units. STRIDES will directly benefit up to 30 teachers and 24,000 students from diverse school settings over four years.

Leveraging advances in natural language processing methods, the project will analyze student written explanations to provide fine-grained summaries to teachers about strengths and weaknesses in student work. Based on the linguistic analysis and logs of student navigation, the project will then provide instructional customizations based on learning science research, and study how teachers use them to improve student progress. Researchers will annually conduct at least 10 design or comparison studies, each involving up to 6 teachers and 300-600 students per year. Insights from this research will be captured in automated scoring algorithms, empirically tested and refined customization activities, and data logging techniques that can be used by other research and curriculum design programs to enable teacher customization.

Enhancing Teacher and Student Understanding of Engineering in K-5 Bilingual Programs

This mixed-method exploratory study will examine how bilingual teachers working in elementary schools in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico understand the role and skills of engineers in society. In turn, it will examine how teachers adapt existing engineering lessons so that those activities and concepts are more culturally and linguistically accessible to their students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1814258
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2018 to Thu, 09/30/2021
Full Description: 

Engineering is part of everyone's local community and daily activities yet opportunities to learn about engineering are often absent from elementary school classrooms. Further, little is known about how teachers' and students' conceptions of engineering relate to aspects of their local community such as language and culture. Knowing more about this is important because students' perceptions of mismatch between their personal culture and the engineering field contributes to the continued underrepresentation of minorities in the profession. This mixed-method exploratory study will examine how bilingual teachers working in elementary schools in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico understand the role and skills of engineers in society. In turn, it will examine how teachers adapt existing engineering lessons so that those activities and concepts are more culturally and linguistically accessible to their students.

Consistent with the aims of the DRK-12 program, this project will advance understanding of how engineering education materials can be adapted to the characteristics of teachers, students, and the communities that they reside in. Further, its focus on bilingual classrooms will bring new perspectives to characterizations of the engineering field and its role in different cultures and societies. Over a three-year period, the team will investigate these issues by collecting data from 24 teachers (12 from each location). Data will be collected via surveys, interviews, discussion of instructional examples, videos of teachers' classroom instruction and analysis of artifacts such as teachers' lesson plans. Teachers will collaborate and function as a professional co-learning community called instructional rounds by participating and providing feedback synchronously in face-to-face settings and via the use of digital apps. Project findings can lead to teaching guidelines, practices, and briefs that inform efforts to successfully integrate bilingual engineering curriculum at the elementary grades. This work also has the potential to create professional development models of success for K-5 teachers in bilingual programs and enhance engineering teaching strategies and methods at these early grade levels.

Prospective Elementary Teachers Making for Mathematical Learning

This study takes an innovative approach to documenting how teacher knowledge can be enhanced by incorporating a design experience into pre-service mathematics education. Teachers will use digital and fabrication technologies (e.g., 3D printers and laser cutters) to design and use manipulatives for K-6 mathematics learning. The goals of the project include describing how this experience influences the prospective teachers' knowledge and identities while creating curriculum for teacher education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1812887
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Mon, 08/31/2020
Full Description: 

What teachers know and believe is central to what they can do in classrooms. This study takes an innovative approach to documenting how teacher knowledge can be enhanced by incorporating a design experience into pre-service mathematics education. The study's participating prospective teachers will use digital and fabrication technologies (e.g., 3D printers and laser cutters) to design and use manipulatives for K-6 mathematics learning. The goals of the project include describing how this experience influences the prospective teachers' knowledge and identities while creating curriculum for teacher education. Also, because more schools and students have access to 3D fabrication capabilities, teacher education can utilize these capabilities to prepare teachers to take advantage of these resources. Prior research by the team demonstrated how the process of making a manipulative can support prospective teachers in learning about mathematics and how to teach elementary mathematics concepts. The project will generate resources for other elementary teacher education programs and research about how prospective elementary teachers learn mathematics for teaching.

The project includes three research questions. First, what forms of knowledge are brought to bear as prospective elementary teachers make new manipulatives and write corresponding tasks to support the teaching and learning of mathematics? Second, how does prospective elementary teachers' knowledge for teaching mathematics develop as they make new manipulatives and write tasks to support the teaching and learning of mathematics? Third, as prospective elementary teachers make new manipulatives and write tasks to support the teaching and learning of mathematics, how do they see themselves in relation to the making, the mathematics, and the mathematics teaching? The project will employ a design-based research methodology with cycles of design, enactment, analysis and redesign to create curriculum modules for teacher education focused on making mathematics manipulatives. Data collection will include video recording of class sessions, participant observation, field notes, artifacts from the participants' design of manipulatives, and assessments of mathematical knowledge for teaching. A qualitative analysis will use multiple frameworks from prior research on mathematics teacher knowledge and identity development.

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