Project Overview

National reform efforts in science education suggest that science learning should be propelled by the need to “figure things out”, engaging students to make sense of and explain a natural phenomenon. Student talk is essential to this work. Learning through Collaborative Design Professional Development (LCD PD) is a National Science Foundation funded PD and research project focused on supporting teacher practice that enhances student thinking and learning through talk. LCD PD is guided by nationally recognized science education researchers and PD experts with a goal of providing teachers with the skills to engage students in sensemaking in science through talk and to provide the field with valuable insight into effective designs for science teacher PD.

Project Focus

A key focus of LCD PD is to (1) engage teachers as students in science activities and then unpack pedagogy that underpins them so they can better consider how the student experience can be leveraged to support talk in science classrooms, (2) to help teachers design, analyze, and refine their practice in collaboration with their peers, and (3) to provide the field with valuable insight into effective designs for science teacher PD centered on collaborative design and productive talk in science classrooms. 

The objectives of the project are to: 

The Project

During the first phase of the project, the team designed, implemented, and refined the LCD PD model in two school districts across two years.

LCD PD remains embedded in these districts and continues to follow teachers and support their involvement in the project. The next phase of the project to begin in the spring of 2021, the field test, will compare the impact of the LCD PD model to a Learning through Participation (LTP) PD model and a Results-Based PD model (i.e. control group). All models support teachers’ learning about ambitious science teaching, where students conduct investigations while thinking through and reasoning about the results of those investigations and how to communicate them (something that has received less attention in the past). In the LCD and LTP PD models, teachers engaged in an introductory 6 days summer institute and in four cycles of PD during the school year. The summer and school year PD cycles provide paid opportunities for teachers to connect and work with colleagues. The Results-Based PD (i.e., control group) will participate in a paid summer PD the year following the study and will be financially supported during the prior school year. 

Research on PD, teacher practice, and teacher and student learning began after the first summer PD in 2018 and continues today. The research is viewed through the lenses of collaborative design and/or productive science talk in middle and high school science classrooms.