Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA) Professional Development Program: Scaling for Effectiveness

This is a full research and development project addressing challenge question: How can promising innovations be successfully implemented, sustained, and scaled in schools and districts? The promising innovation is the Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA) professional development (PD) program, which supports 4th- and 5th-grade teachers in teaching concepts in biology (food webs), physical science (phase changes), and earth science (earth’s changing surface, weather).

Project Email
Project Evaluator
Full Description

The Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA) professional development program is a one-year sequence of professional development activities that engages teachers in content-specific analysis of science teaching and learning using video cases of science lessons. In small, facilitated learning teams, teachers examine specially created video cases and video from their own classrooms. The video cases provide rich contexts for deepening teachers' content and pedagogical content knowledge by providing a shared context for evidence-based analysis. The STeLLA program is built on two key research-based ideas for teacher learning that are examined in depth. The first premise is that teachers can improve their science teaching effectiveness by developing two lenses for analyzing teaching: the student thinking lens and the science content storyline lens. These two lenses provide a conceptual framework for the program. The second key idea is that teachers will deepen their science content knowledge through the use of these two lenses. The current project scale-ups STeLLA in two large, diverse Colorado school districts.

This project is designed to rigorously test the effectiveness of the STeLLA professional development program when it is scaled to(a) reach large numbers of teachers and students in a wider array of school settings, (b) be delivered by facilitators who are not the program developers, and (c) include random assignment to two treatment groups. The scaled-up version of STeLLA (n~100 teachers) is compared with a science content deepening professional development program of the same duration (n~100 teachers). Measures of teachers' science content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and teaching practice documents STeLLA's impact on teachers. Students in 4th and 5th grades (n~6,000) are given two sets of pre-post unit tests to provide evidence of student learning, and 5th grade student data are also assessed through the Colorado Science Assessment Program (CSAP), the state science assessment. The project tests whether teacher variables (content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and teaching practice) mediate student learning, and explores other factors that may explain variance in student achievement.

This project focuses on a teacher professional development model originally suggested by TIMSS video data on science classroom instruction. The TIMSS international comparison of science lesson enactments showed that U.S. teachers, in contrast with teachers from higher-achieving countries, emphasized student participation in activities with little or no attention to using those activities to develop science ideas or to engage students in thinking deeply about the target learning goals The STeLLA project is designed to improve elementary science instruction through the development of video cases of science teaching that support teachers in focusing on science ideas, student understanding of those ideas, and instructional responses that make clear links between the lesson activities and the development of science ideas and understanding. Guided by research results of previous studies, STeLLA focuses on improving teachers' content knowledge and their practice through the use of video. This concentrated, focused approach to professional development in science education is substantially different from other approaches. It holds a great deal of promise through its creative use of video technology, its clearly articulated theory of action, and a thoughtful scale-up research design that helps to illuminate the factors that can improve science teaching and learning.

Project Videos

2015 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: STeLLA: Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis

Presenter(s): Christopher Wilson & Jody Bintz


Project Materials

Title Type Post date Sort ascending
No content available.