Funded Grants

Understanding Teacher Change and Teachers as Learners in K-12 Classrooms


Developing a Model of Teacher Learning to Support Classroom Enactment of Purposeful Sensemaking


Grantee: Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA
Project Manager: Brian Reiser, Ph.D.
Grant Title: Developing a Model of Teacher Learning to Support Classroom Enactment of Purposeful Sensemaking
Program Area: Understanding Human Cognition
Grant Type: Teachers as Learners
Year Awarded: 2017
Duration: 5 years

Project Summary:

The proposed project investigates teacher learning in the context of enactment of instructional materials aligned to the three dimensions of the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We have operationalized a major shift called for in the current reform context in an approach we call purposeful sensemaking, in which teachers and students co-construct a knowledge building environment. By studying two cohorts of 20 teachers over a two-year timespan during which they learn about and teach with instructional materials designed to support purposeful sensemaking, we will develop a model for understanding how enactment is influenced by and in turn influences underlying conceptions and practices of science teaching. The project explores variations that occur in teachers’ attempted enactments of a semester-long sequence of middle or high school curriculum, and examines how these variations arise from teachers’ underlying knowledge, beliefs, and practices, and how they coordinate those ideas during enactment in specific contexts. The project aims to develop a model of teacher “learning while doing” identifying the shifts in knowledge, beliefs and practices that teachers make over time, and describe how the process of using NGSS-aligned instructional materials creates the conditions for teacher learning. Project goals are to model the substance of what teachers have learned, and model the mechanism by which these changes arise through cycles of analysis, enactment and reflection. We will draw on research measures and findings in a translation plan that develops and shares teacher tools and practical measures supporting purposeful sensemaking.

  • Project Manager: Brian Reiser, Northwestern University
  • Cynthia Passmore, University of California - Davis
  • Michael Novak, Park View School in Morton Grove, IL
  • William Penuel, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Sarah Michaels, Clark University