Professional Development

Learning Trajectories to Support the Growth of Measurement Knowledge: Pre-K Through Middle School

This project is studying measurement practices from pre-K to Grade 8, as a coordination of the STEM disciplines of mathematics and science. This research project tests, revises and extends learning trajectories for children's knowledge of geometric measurement across a ten-year span of human development. The goal will be to validate all components of each learning trajectory, goal, developmental progression, and instruction tasks, as well as revising each LT to reflect the outcomes of the experiments.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222944
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/01/2012 to Tue, 07/31/2018
Full Description: 

This project is studying measurement practices from pre-K to Grade 8, as a coordination of the STEM disciplines of mathematics and science. This four-year, mixed methods research project tests, revises and extends learning trajectories (LTs) for children's knowledge of geometric measurement across a ten-year span of human development. Specifically, research teams from Illinois State University and the University at Denver are working with children in urban and suburban schools to (1) validate and extend prior findings from previous NSF-funded research developing measurement learning trajectories with children in pre-K to Grade 5, and (2) generate and extend portions of trajectories for geometric measurement for Grades 6-8.

The project employs a form of microgenetic studies with 24-50 children per grade from pre-K through Grade 5 representing a stratified random sample from a specific set of suburban schools. These studies will test the validity, replicability and generalizability of the LTs for length, area, and volume. The goal will be to validate all components of each learning trajectory, goal, developmental progression, and instruction tasks, as well as revising each LT to reflect the outcomes of the experiments. Analysis of variance measures with pre/post assessments in an experimental/control design will complement the repeated sessions method of microgenetic analysis.

To explore and extend LTs for children in Grade 6-8, the project employs teaching experiments. This design is used to generate and extend portions of trajectories for geometric measurement, and to explore critical aspects of measurement in clinical and classroom contexts. This work is coordinated with the teaching and learning standards issued by the Council of Chief State School Officials/National Governors Association, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association of the Advancement of Science, and the National Research Council with cognitive and mathematics/science education literature. Emerging constructs for the hypothetical LT levels in relation to relevant frameworks generated by other researchers and those implied by standards documents to establish ongoing sequences of the experimental interventions for grades 6-8 are being compared, critiqued and evaluated.

This project provides a longitudinal account of pre-K to Grade 8 children's ways of thinking and understanding mathematical and scientific concepts of measurement based upon empirical analysis. The resulting learning trajectory will represent state of the art integrated, interdisciplinary, theoretically- and empirically-based descriptions of increasingly sophisticated and complex levels of thinking in the domain of measurement (albeit, more tentative for Grades 6-8). This account will be used to verify and/or modify existing accounts of children's development of reasoning from short-term analyses of learning or cross-sectional studies. There are not yet integrative longitudinal studies describing this cognitive domain for area or volume measurement. This trajectory-based analysis of development and instruction supports the design and testing of integrative, formative assessment of individuals and groups of children. Such learning trajectories will be useful in implementing the standard-focused curriculum described in the Common Core State Standards Mathematics and in supporting the multiple large assessment projects currently underway

Assessing, Validating, and Developing Content Knowledge for Teaching Energy (Collaborative Research: Gitomer)

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. The project uses a framework that includes tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222777
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 to Thu, 08/31/2017
Full Description: 

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. There is significant research that indicates that teacher content knowledge differs from what people in other professions need to know about particular domains such as mathematics, and the development of a Content Knowledge of Teaching Energy in mechanics is an extension of those research and development efforts. The project embeds the development of the instrument in a program of measuring effective teaching of physics in the classroom and develops a strong validity argument for the resulting assessment based on its use as a measure in a professional development project that intends to improve teachers' understanding of energy in physics. The research team consists of experts in physics, assessment and classroom teaching of physics. The collaborative project includes researchers at Rutgers, University of Maine, Seattle Pacific University, Facets Innovation, and the Educational Testing Service.

The project uses a framework for effective teaching developed in the Measures of Effective Teaching project funded by the Gates Foundation to construct a theoretical framework for the teaching of mechanical energy. That framework includes items and tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning. A strong framework of validation based on multiple lines of evidence of the relationship between the items developed for the study and observations, analysis of video, and artifacts from the classroom is one element of the study. Another element of the study examines multiple psychometric lines of evidence to determine the reliability of the instruments and the validity of the inferences drawn from them. The resulting instruments will be used in the measurement of changes of teacher content knowledge for teaching in professional development programs as another source of validation.

The improvement of teachers' content knowledge for teaching is an important intermediary goal of professional development of teachers. Without adequate understanding of the gaps in teacher knowledge and precise evidence of the improvement through professional development, the efficacy of different professional development projects is not possible. This project develops a model of teacher assessment instrument development that addresses a cross-cutting theme in the Next Generation Science Standards and contributes an important tool to the research and evaluation processes that are needed to make those standards a reality in the classroom. Findings from the use of the instruments across multiple projects inform policy decisions on local, state and federal levels.

Assessing, Validating, and Developing Content Knowledge for Teaching Energy (Collaborative Research: Vokos)

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. The project uses a framework that includes tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222732
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. There is significant research that indicates that teacher content knowledge differs from what people in other professions need to know about particular domains such as mathematics, and the development of a Content Knowledge of Teaching Energy in mechanics is an extension of those research and development efforts. The project embeds the development of the instrument in a program of measuring effective teaching of physics in the classroom and develops a strong validity argument for the resulting assessment based on its use as a measure in a professional development project that intends to improve teachers' understanding of energy in physics. The research team consists of experts in physics, assessment and classroom teaching of physics. The collaborative project includes researchers at Rutgers, University of Maine, Seattle Pacific University, Facets Innovation, and the Educational Testing Service.

The project uses a framework for effective teaching developed in the Measures of Effective Teaching project funded by the Gates Foundation to construct a theoretical framework for the teaching of mechanical energy. That framework includes items and tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning. A strong framework of validation based on multiple lines of evidence of the relationship between the items developed for the study and observations, analysis of video, and artifacts from the classroom is one element of the study. Another element of the study examines multiple psychometric lines of evidence to determine the reliability of the instruments and the validity of the inferences drawn from them. The resulting instruments will be used in the measurement of changes of teacher content knowledge for teaching in professional development programs as another source of validation.

The improvement of teachers' content knowledge for teaching is an important intermediary goal of professional development of teachers. Without adequate understanding of the gaps in teacher knowledge and precise evidence of the improvement through professional development, the efficacy of different professional development projects is not possible. This project develops a model of teacher assessment instrument development that addresses a cross-cutting theme in the Next Generation Science Standards and contributes an important tool to the research and evaluation processes that are needed to make those standards a reality in the classroom. Findings from the use of the instruments across multiple projects inform policy decisions on local, state and federal levels.

Assessing, Validating, and Developing Content Knowledge for Teaching Energy (Collaborative Research: Minstrell)

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. The project uses a framework that includes tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222598
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 to Thu, 08/31/2017
Full Description: 

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. There is significant research that indicates that teacher content knowledge differs from what people in other professions need to know about particular domains such as mathematics, and the development of a Content Knowledge of Teaching Energy in mechanics is an extension of those research and development efforts. The project embeds the development of the instrument in a program of measuring effective teaching of physics in the classroom and develops a strong validity argument for the resulting assessment based on its use as a measure in a professional development project that intends to improve teachers' understanding of energy in physics. The research team consists of experts in physics, assessment and classroom teaching of physics. The collaborative project includes researchers at Rutgers, University of Maine, Seattle Pacific University, Facets Innovation, and the Educational Testing Service.

The project uses a framework for effective teaching developed in the Measures of Effective Teaching project funded by the Gates Foundation to construct a theoretical framework for the teaching of mechanical energy. That framework includes items and tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning. A strong framework of validation based on multiple lines of evidence of the relationship between the items developed for the study and observations, analysis of video, and artifacts from the classroom is one element of the study. Another element of the study examines multiple psychometric lines of evidence to determine the reliability of the instruments and the validity of the inferences drawn from them. The resulting instruments will be used in the measurement of changes of teacher content knowledge for teaching in professional development programs as another source of validation.

The improvement of teachers' content knowledge for teaching is an important intermediary goal of professional development of teachers. Without adequate understanding of the gaps in teacher knowledge and precise evidence of the improvement through professional development, the efficacy of different professional development projects is not possible. This project develops a model of teacher assessment instrument development that addresses a cross-cutting theme in the Next Generation Science Standards and contributes an important tool to the research and evaluation processes that are needed to make those standards a reality in the classroom. Findings from the use of the instruments across multiple projects inform policy decisions on local, state and federal levels.

Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (Collaborative Research: Sword)

This collaborative project is developing instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement.

Award Number: 
1222426
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/15/2012 to Sun, 07/31/2016
Full Description: 

Boston University, Education Development Center, Inc., and St. Olaf College are collaborating on Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (ASTAHM) to develop instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. MHoM is a critical component of mathematical knowledge for teaching at the secondary level. Recognizing the need for a scientific approach to investigate the ways in which MHoM is an indicator of teacher effectiveness, the partnership is researching the following questions:

1. How do teachers who engage MHoM when doing mathematics for themselves also bring MHoM to their teaching practice?

2. How are teachers' engagement with MHoM and their use of these habits in teaching related to student understanding and achievement?

To investigate these questions, ASTAHM is developing two instruments: a paper and pencil (P&P) assessment and an observation protocol that measure teachers' knowledge and classroom use, respectively, of MHoM.

The work is being conducted in two phases: (1) an instrument-refinement and learning phase, and (2) an instrument-testing and research phase. Objectives of Phase 1 are to gather data to refine the project's existing instruments and to learn about the bridge factors that impact the relationship between teachers' knowledge and classroom use of MHoM. Specific research activities include: administering the pilot P&P assessment to 40 teachers, videotaping Algebra instructions of 8 teachers, performing initial testing and refinement of the instruments, and using the data to analyze the bridge factors. Phase 2 is a large-scale study involving field-testing the P&P assessment with 200 teachers, videotaping 20 teachers and studying them using the observation protocol, collecting achievement data from 3000 students, and checking P&P content validity with 200 mathematicians. With these validated instruments in hand, the project will then conduct an investigation into the above research questions. Lesley University's Program Evaluation and Research Group (PERG) is the external evaluator. PERG is assessing ASTAHM's overall success in developing valid and reliable instruments to investigate the extent to which a relationship exists between teachers' MHoM and their classroom practice, as well as student achievement. Evaluators are also investigating whether users' coding guides for both instruments enable field-testers to effectively use and adequately score them.

This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement. The MHoM construct is closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards-Mathematics (CCSS-M); especially its Standards for Mathematical Practice. For example, both place importance on seeking and using mathematical structure. Thus the instruments this project produces can act as pre- and post-measures of the effectiveness of professional development programs in preparing teachers to implement the CCSS-M. Mathematics teacher knowledge at the secondary level is an understudied field. Through analyses of the practices and habits of mind that teachers bring to their work, ASTAHM is developing instruments that can be used to shed light on effective secondary teaching.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Studying Teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind

Presenter(s): Sarah Sword, Eden Badertscher, Al Cuoco, Miriam Gates, Ryota Matsuura, & Glenn Stevens

2017 STEM for All Video Showcase
Title: Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind

Presenter(s): Sarah Sword, Courtney Arthur, Al Cuoco, Miriam Gates, Ryota Matsuura, & Glenn Stevens

2016 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind

Presenter(s): Ryota Matsuura, Al Cuoco, Glenn Stevens, & Sarah Sword


Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (Collaborative Research: Matsuura)

This collaborative project is developing instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222340
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/15/2012 to Tue, 07/31/2018
Full Description: 

Boston University, Education Development Center, Inc., and St. Olaf College are collaborating on Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (ASTAHM) to develop instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. MHoM is a critical component of mathematical knowledge for teaching at the secondary level. Recognizing the need for a scientific approach to investigate the ways in which MHoM is an indicator of teacher effectiveness, the partnership is researching the following questions:

1. How do teachers who engage MHoM when doing mathematics for themselves also bring MHoM to their teaching practice?

2. How are teachers' engagement with MHoM and their use of these habits in teaching related to student understanding and achievement?

To investigate these questions, ASTAHM is developing two instruments: a paper and pencil (P&P) assessment and an observation protocol that measure teachers' knowledge and classroom use, respectively, of MHoM.

The work is being conducted in two phases: (1) an instrument-refinement and learning phase, and (2) an instrument-testing and research phase. Objectives of Phase 1 are to gather data to refine the project's existing instruments and to learn about the bridge factors that impact the relationship between teachers' knowledge and classroom use of MHoM. Specific research activities include: administering the pilot P&P assessment to 40 teachers, videotaping Algebra instructions of 8 teachers, performing initial testing and refinement of the instruments, and using the data to analyze the bridge factors. Phase 2 is a large-scale study involving field-testing the P&P assessment with 200 teachers, videotaping 20 teachers and studying them using the observation protocol, collecting achievement data from 3000 students, and checking P&P content validity with 200 mathematicians. With these validated instruments in hand, the project will then conduct an investigation into the above research questions. Lesley University's Program Evaluation and Research Group (PERG) is the external evaluator. PERG is assessing ASTAHM's overall success in developing valid and reliable instruments to investigate the extent to which a relationship exists between teachers' MHoM and their classroom practice, as well as student achievement. Evaluators are also investigating whether users' coding guides for both instruments enable field-testers to effectively use and adequately score them.

This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement. The MHoM construct is closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards-Mathematics (CCSS-M); especially its Standards for Mathematical Practice. For example, both place importance on seeking and using mathematical structure. Thus the instruments this project produces can act as pre- and post-measures of the effectiveness of professional development programs in preparing teachers to implement the CCSS-M. Mathematics teacher knowledge at the secondary level is an understudied field. Through analyses of the practices and habits of mind that teachers bring to their work, ASTAHM is developing instruments that can be used to shed light on effective secondary teaching.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Studying Teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind

Presenter(s): Sarah Sword, Eden Badertscher, Al Cuoco, Miriam Gates, Ryota Matsuura, & Glenn Stevens

2017 STEM for All Video Showcase
Title: Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind

Presenter(s): Sarah Sword, Courtney Arthur, Al Cuoco, Miriam Gates, Ryota Matsuura, & Glenn Stevens

2016 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind

Presenter(s): Ryota Matsuura, Al Cuoco, Glenn Stevens, & Sarah Sword


Assessing, Validating, and Developing Content Knowledge for Teaching Energy (Collaborative Research: Wittmann)

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. The project uses a framework that includes tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222580
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This project develops an instrument to measure the content knowledge that teachers need to teach about energy in high school classroom instruction that focuses on mechanical energy. There is significant research that indicates that teacher content knowledge differs from what people in other professions need to know about particular domains such as mathematics, and the development of a Content Knowledge of Teaching Energy in mechanics is an extension of those research and development efforts. The project embeds the development of the instrument in a program of measuring effective teaching of physics in the classroom and develops a strong validity argument for the resulting assessment based on its use as a measure in a professional development project that intends to improve teachers' understanding of energy in physics. The research team consists of experts in physics, assessment and classroom teaching of physics. The collaborative project includes researchers at Rutgers, University of Maine, Seattle Pacific University, Facets Innovation, and the Educational Testing Service.

The project uses a framework for effective teaching developed in the Measures of Effective Teaching project funded by the Gates Foundation to construct a theoretical framework for the teaching of mechanical energy. That framework includes items and tasks based on instructional practices in the classroom that can identify the extent to which the teacher understands both the disciplinary knowledge and the appropriate teaching processes that support student learning. A strong framework of validation based on multiple lines of evidence of the relationship between the items developed for the study and observations, analysis of video, and artifacts from the classroom is one element of the study. Another element of the study examines multiple psychometric lines of evidence to determine the reliability of the instruments and the validity of the inferences drawn from them. The resulting instruments will be used in the measurement of changes of teacher content knowledge for teaching in professional development programs as another source of validation.

The improvement of teachers' content knowledge for teaching is an important intermediary goal of professional development of teachers. Without adequate understanding of the gaps in teacher knowledge and precise evidence of the improvement through professional development, the efficacy of different professional development projects is not possible. This project develops a model of teacher assessment instrument development that addresses a cross-cutting theme in the Next Generation Science Standards and contributes an important tool to the research and evaluation processes that are needed to make those standards a reality in the classroom. Findings from the use of the instruments across multiple projects inform policy decisions on local, state and federal levels.

Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (Collaborative Research: Stevens)

This collaborative project is developing instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222496
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/15/2012 to Sun, 07/31/2016
Full Description: 

Boston University, Education Development Center, Inc., and St. Olaf College are collaborating on Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (ASTAHM) to develop instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. MHoM is a critical component of mathematical knowledge for teaching at the secondary level. Recognizing the need for a scientific approach to investigate the ways in which MHoM is an indicator of teacher effectiveness, the partnership is researching the following questions:

1. How do teachers who engage MHoM when doing mathematics for themselves also bring MHoM to their teaching practice?

2. How are teachers' engagement with MHoM and their use of these habits in teaching related to student understanding and achievement?

To investigate these questions, ASTAHM is developing two instruments: a paper and pencil (P&P) assessment and an observation protocol that measure teachers' knowledge and classroom use, respectively, of MHoM.

The work is being conducted in two phases: (1) an instrument-refinement and learning phase, and (2) an instrument-testing and research phase. Objectives of Phase 1 are to gather data to refine the project's existing instruments and to learn about the bridge factors that impact the relationship between teachers' knowledge and classroom use of MHoM. Specific research activities include: administering the pilot P&P assessment to 40 teachers, videotaping Algebra instructions of 8 teachers, performing initial testing and refinement of the instruments, and using the data to analyze the bridge factors. Phase 2 is a large-scale study involving field-testing the P&P assessment with 200 teachers, videotaping 20 teachers and studying them using the observation protocol, collecting achievement data from 3000 students, and checking P&P content validity with 200 mathematicians. With these validated instruments in hand, the project will then conduct an investigation into the above research questions. Lesley University's Program Evaluation and Research Group (PERG) is the external evaluator. PERG is assessing ASTAHM's overall success in developing valid and reliable instruments to investigate the extent to which a relationship exists between teachers' MHoM and their classroom practice, as well as student achievement. Evaluators are also investigating whether users' coding guides for both instruments enable field-testers to effectively use and adequately score them.

This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement. The MHoM construct is closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards-Mathematics (CCSS-M); especially its Standards for Mathematical Practice. For example, both place importance on seeking and using mathematical structure. Thus the instruments this project produces can act as pre- and post-measures of the effectiveness of professional development programs in preparing teachers to implement the CCSS-M. Mathematics teacher knowledge at the secondary level is an understudied field. Through analyses of the practices and habits of mind that teachers bring to their work, ASTAHM is developing instruments that can be used to shed light on effective secondary teaching.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Studying Teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind

Presenter(s): Sarah Sword, Eden Badertscher, Al Cuoco, Miriam Gates, Ryota Matsuura, & Glenn Stevens

2017 STEM for All Video Showcase
Title: Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind

Presenter(s): Sarah Sword, Courtney Arthur, Al Cuoco, Miriam Gates, Ryota Matsuura, & Glenn Stevens

2016 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind

Presenter(s): Ryota Matsuura, Al Cuoco, Glenn Stevens, & Sarah Sword


Supporting Large Scale Change in Science Education: Understanding Professional Development and Adoption Variation Related to the Revised Advanced Placement Curriculum (PD-RAP)

This proposal leverages the re-design of the Advanced Placement (AP) curricula currently under way to study the impact of teacher professional development on student achievement in a natural experiment at scale. In addition to supporting the improvement of professional development of AP teachers by the College Board, the findings contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between professional development and student achievement more generally.

Award Number: 
1221861
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/15/2012 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This proposal leverages the re-design of the Advanced Placement (AP) curricula currently under way to study the impact of teacher professional development on student achievement in a natural experiment at scale. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Boston, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and the Education Development Center, Inc are conducting a quasi-experimental research study to examine the professional development experienced by AP Biology, Chemistry and Physics teachers to determines 1) the relationship between teacher and school characteristics and the professional development patterns that teachers choose; 2) the relationship between the professional development patterns that various types of teachers choose and their students' outcomes; and 3) the challenges encountered in delivering various forms of professional development at this level of scale. In addition to supporting the improvement of professional development of AP teachers by the College Board, the findings contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between professional development and student achievement more generally.

This study uses the existing context of the AP Course Audit by which all teachers of AP courses submit a syllabus, descriptions of laboratory investigations, and information regarding contact hours and the background of teachers, including the professional development programs accessed. The teachers who submit audits will be surveyed using the Stages of Concern Questionnaire together with other items to determine their perceptions of the AP Science redesign. The experiences of over 20,000 teachers are examined over the course of the study. Teachers who participate in AP professional development conducted by the College Board and the Active AP online Teacher Community (APoTC) will be surveyed about their professional development experiences. Case studies of 40 using interview, elaborated survey items, and artifacts from their teaching provide information about the quality of the teacher implementation of the AP course. Scores on the AP exams of all of the students will be linked to the teachers and the relationships among those scores and teacher professional development experiences analyzed using multi-level regression analyses.

The findings from this study have considerable importance for those individuals who provide professional development for science teachers. The results will inform the College Board and others who provide professional development directly to AP science teachers about how that support needs to change in order to more effectively support teachers. Improving the support that AP teachers receive has the potential to improve the learning experiences of the students who participate in those classes. In addition, this study will provide information about issues and challenges to providing professional development at scale to a wider audience of professional development providers. As the Next Generation Science Standards come online, this information will be useful to policy makers and practitioners.

Exploring Methods for Improving Teachers' Mathematical Quality of Instruction

In this project, researchers are working with 4th and 5th grade teachers to improve their mathematics instruction by experimenting with different ways to implement the MQI model of professional development. The professional development experiences are intentionally aligned with the Mathematical Quality of Instruction (MQI) observation instrument. This research can inform models of professional development by providing more information about various ways that the same model of professional development can be implemented.

Award Number: 
1221693
Funding Period: 
Sat, 12/01/2012 to Mon, 11/30/2015
Full Description: 

The Exploring Methods for Improving Teachers' Mathematical Quality of Instruction (MQI) is an exploratory project at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Researchers are working with 4th and 5th grade teachers to improve their mathematics instruction by experimenting with different ways to implement the MQI model of professional development. The professional development requires teachers to critique and discuss videos of mathematics instruction. The professional development experiences are intentionally aligned with the Mathematical Quality of Instruction (MQI) observation instrument.

The researchers are investigating the impact of several variables on the success of their professional development model as measured by how well teachers can assess videos of mathematics instruction. Researchers are exploring the model by varying the modes of delivery (face-to-face or internet), meeting time (weekly or bi-weekly), facilitator involvement (high or low) and the type of video used (project video or personal video). They are producing case studies using the school group as the unit of analysis.

This research can inform models of professional development by providing more information about various ways that the same model of professional development can be implemented. The use of case studies provides an in depth understanding of the group dynamics and how the variables influence what is learned and observed by teachers of mathematics.

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