Dr. Zandra de Araujo (PI), along with co-PIs Dr. Samuel Otten (University of Missouri – Columbia) and Dr. Amber Candela (University of Missouri – St. Louis), is leading a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project (#2206774) that will provide 2.5 million dollars in funds over the next four years to design and study an innovative form of professional development.
Professional development (PD) is a direct attempt to improve the quality of instruction for teachers already in the classroom. Traditional PD is typically costly in terms of time and money, and efforts tend to be delivered as a one-size-fits-all approach. Furthermore, for teachers who adopt novel techniques such as flipped instruction, there may be few resources to support their efforts. This project seeks to develop a personalized, scalable PD approach that centers on and builds from algebra teachers’ practices and individual strengths. The project will focus its PD efforts on instructional actions that are tailored to teachers’ existing practice, can be readily adopted, and are easily accessible. The project team have termed such instructional actions high-uptake practices. The project will develop and field test PD materials to support algebra teachers at scale via these high-uptake practices.
In addition to developing the PD materials, the project team will research the efficacy of this PD model in terms of student learning outcomes and teacher instructional practices in approximately 60 algebra classrooms. The main data sources will include teacher observation data, teacher interviews and surveys, student pre/posttests, student surveys, and PD analytics. The research will characterize the immediate and longer term impacts of the PD on teachers’ instructional practices; and characterize the impact of teachers’ participation in the PD on students’ learning outcomes and engagement. The research questions include: 1) In what ways does teachers’ participation in the PD impact their instructional practices? 2) Do students of teachers who participate in the PD demonstrate differential growth in learning outcomes? 3) Do students of teachers who participate in the PD have increased rates of homework completion?; and 4) Do students of teachers who participate in the PD have increased engagement during individual work time? In meeting both our PD development and research aims, this project will contribute knowledge about the effectiveness of an incremental, practice-driven approach to PD and instructional change.