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ERIC Number: ED528461
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Preparing Teachers to Design Instruction in Middle School Earth Science: Comparing the Impacts of Three Professional Development Programs on Teaching and Learning
Penuel, William R.; Gallagher, Lawrence P.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
The purpose of this study is to compare the efficacy of three different approaches to professional development in Earth science education: preparing teachers to "adopt" expert-"design" curricula; preparing teachers to use a principled approach to design curricula; and preparing teachers to use a principled approach to "adapt" curricula. The claims examined through the study are that one or more of these approaches is more effective than the other(s) in improving teaching and learning. A total of 56 6th, 7th, and 8th grade teachers from 19 middle schools in a large urban district participated. The study results suggest that professional development aimed at helping teachers to adapt high-quality curriculum materials using the Understanding by Design approach is the most effective approach for improving Earth science teaching and learning in the middle grades. Although all three professional development interventions were effective in improving teaching or learning on some dimensions, the Hybrid classrooms in the study had the most consistent results across measures of impact on teaching and learning. The fact that students in the IES condition did not perform as well on the authors' student learning measures as their assignment quality might indicate does not detract from these findings. The IES teachers could not supplement their instruction with materials that addressed standards and topics not in the IES materials. This fact does not diminish the significance of the results; instead, it points to the critical need for curriculum developers to design materials for teachers to adapt in a principled way. From a policy perspective, the study suggests that neither simply providing teachers with high-quality curricula nor providing them with resources for designing curricular units on their own is as effective as designing curriculum for adaptation. The authors' results suggest specific professional development activities that can help teachers adapt curriculum. The Understanding by Design approach prepares teachers to select target understandings that are at the core of what students need to know and develop or select activities designed to develop those understandings. The study provided evidence that teachers used these elements of their professional development to affect their teaching practice and, consequently, student learning. (Contains 2 figures.) [This paper was prepared for the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness Second Annual Conference held in Hyatt Regency, Crystal City, Virginia last March 1-3, 2009.]
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Adult Education; Elementary Secondary Education; Grade 6; Grade 7; Grade 8; Middle Schools; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)