Teacher Content Knowledge

Learning Trajectories as a Complete Early Mathematics Intervention: Achieving Efficacies of Economies at Scale

The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of the Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2) program with the goal of improving mathematics teaching and thereby increasing young students' math learning. LT2 is a professional development tool and a curriculum resource intended for teachers to be used to support early math instruction and includes the mathematical learning goal, the developmental progression, and relevant instructional activities.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908889
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Sun, 06/30/2024
Full Description: 

U.S. proficiency in mathematics continues to be low and early math performance is a powerful predictor of long-term academic success and employability. However, relatively few early childhood degree programs have any curriculum requirements focused on key mathematics topics. Thus, teacher professional development programs offer a viable and promising method for supporting and improving teachers' instructional approaches to mathematics and thus, improving student math outcomes. The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of the Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2) program with the goal of improving mathematics teaching and thereby increasing young students' math learning. LT2 is a professional development tool and a curriculum resource intended for teachers to be used to support early math instruction. The LT2 program modules uniquely include the mathematical learning goal, the developmental progression, and relevant instructional activities. All three aspects are critical for high-quality and coherent mathematics instruction in the early grades.

This project will address the following research questions: 1) What are the medium-range effects of LT2 on student achievement and the achievement gap? 2) What are the short- and long-term effects of LT2 on teacher instructional approach, beliefs, and quality? and 3) How cost effective is the LT2 intervention relative to the original Building Blocks intervention? To address the research questions, this project will conduct a multisite cluster randomized experimental design, with 90 schools randomly assigned within school districts to either experimental or control groups. Outcome measures for the approximately 250 kindergarten classrooms across these districts will include the Research-based Elementary Math Assessment, observations of instructional quality, a questionnaire focused on teacher beliefs and practices, in addition to school level administrative data. Data will be analyzed using multi-level regression models to determine the effect of the Learning Trajectories intervention on student learning.

Aligning the Science Teacher Education Pathway: A Networked Improvement Community

This project will study the activities of a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) as a vehicle to bridge gaps across four identified steps along the science teacher training and development pathways within local contexts of 8 participating universities. The overarching goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of universities and school districts to reliably produce teachers of science who are knowledgeable about and can effectively enact the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), although prepared in varied organizational contexts.

Award Number: 
1908900
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

California State University will study the activities of a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) as a vehicle to bridge gaps across four identified steps along the science teacher training and development pathways within local contexts of 8 participating universities (NIC sites). Networked Improvement Community (NIC) will co-create a shared vision and co-defined research agenda between university researchers, science educators and school district practitioners working together to reform teacher education across a variety of local contexts. By studying outcomes of shared supports and teacher tools for use in multiple steps along the science teacher education pathway, researchers will map variation existing in the system and align efforts across the science teacher education pathway. This process will integrate an iterative nature of educational change in local contexts impacting enactment of the NGSS in both university teacher preparation programs and in school district professional training activities and classrooms.

The overarching goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of universities and school districts to reliably produce teachers of science who are knowledgeable about and can effectively enact the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), although prepared in varied organizational contexts. The project will accomplish this goal 1) leveraging the use of an established Networked Improvement Community, composed of science education faculty from eight university campuses and by 2) improving and studying coherence in the steps along the science teacher education pathway within and across these universities and school districts. The project will use a mixed methods approach to data collection and analysis. Consistent with Improvement Science Theory, research questions will be co-defined by all stakeholders.

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

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: 
1908319
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: 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.

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