Current Research Projects

Staying in Science

This longitudinal research study will contribute to a broader understanding of the pathways of STEM-interested high school students from underrepresented groups who plan to pursue or complete science studies in their post-high school endeavors. The project will investigate the ways that formative authentic science experiences may support youth’s persistence in STEM. The study focuses on approximately 460 urban youth who are high interest, high potential STEM students who participate in, or are alumni of, the Science Research Mentoring Program. This program provides intensive mentoring for high school youth from groups underrepresented in STEM careers. It takes place at 22 sites around New York City, including American Museum of Natural History, which is the original program site. Identifying key supports and obstacles in the pathways of high-interest, under-represented youth towards STEM careers can help practitioners design more inclusive and equitable STEM learning experiences and supports. In this way, the project will capitalize on student interest so that students with potential continue to persist.

NSF grant award: #1561637

Moving Next Generation Science Standards into Practice

This full research and development project is focused on the DRK-12 program’s Learning strand with the goal to design, pilot, field-test, and study an eight-week middle school ecosystems unit and associated professional development that aligns with a bundle of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) performance expectations and Common Core State Standards. The project is implemented through a collaborative partnership between three institutions: the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley, the American Museum of Natural History, and the University of Connecticut.

NSF grant award: #1418235

Coherence and Assignment Study in Teacher Education (CATE) 

This comparative study examines the visions, degree of coherence, and opportunities to enact practice in ten different teacher education programs (in Chile, Cuba, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United States). A set of publications are available here, from this project, and main findings are forthcoming in an article in Teachers College Record. This project represents an opportunity to study how programs help prospective teachers of mathematics and language arts connect theory with practice in those very different contexts. Two of the key research questions are: To what degree do prospective teachers have opportunities to learn that are grounded in practice?; and, In what ways do prospective teachers have opportunities to relate theory with real classroom practice? In order to do this work, we developed a set of instruments including an observation tool for use in teacher education classes that focuses on the nature of opportunities to learn in practice, and a short survey of teacher education candidates that focuses upon coherence, vision and opportunities to practice. The survey has been used in seven countries. This study is funded by a grant from the Norwegian Research Council.

Choosing to Teach (CTT) 

In this longitudinal research project, (together with a number of colleagues including Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Eran Tamir, and Kavita Matsko) we examine what we term “context-specific” teacher preparation programs. This research, examining programs that prepare teachers for particular contexts such as the Chicago Public Schools, urban Catholic schools, and Jewish day schools, has led us to articulate the goals, pedagogies and effects of these targeted programs. In particular, we have developed a conceptual framework for thinking about how one prepares teachers for the particularities and unique features of different contexts. Our book Inspiring Teaching: Preparing Teachers to Succeed in Mission-Driven Schools will be published this Fall, 2014, by Harvard Education Press, shares what we learned about the nature of powerful and “context-specific” teacher preparation.

Preparing Teachers for these Times: Context-Specific Preparation for New York City

Building upon the conception of “context-specific” teacher preparation that emerged out of the Choosing to Teach study, this four-year study examines what new teachers learn in the Bard urban residency program about the contexts of teaching in New York City; and in turn, conceptualizes what might they need to know about the context of New York City in order to be successful. This research has led to a new, experimental course co-taught with BC Craig of the Bard MAT which we offered during the 2013-2014 year called “The Contexts of Teaching in New York City,” which is intended to help new teachers develop the skills and practices of learning about the nested contexts of New York City teaching (from school; to community; to district; to state and federal). Our course blog can be viewed at: Publications based upon this work have been presented at AERA in 2012 and 2013; and will appear in an upcoming issue of Urban Education.

Case Study of Finland’s Policy Context for Teaching

This case study is sponsored by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and funded by the National Center on Education and the Economy. The case is intended to explore the policy contexts that support quality and equitable teaching in Finland. The case has been published in a book titled Empowered Educators in Finland which was co-authored with Raisa Ahtiainen (University of Helsinki) and Pasi Sahlberg (Harvard Graduate School of Education). It is one of a set of cases that examines the policies around high quality teaching in ‘high-performing’ countries, by Linda Darling-Hammond as the lead author and Principal Investigator, titled, Empowered Educators: How high performing systems shape teaching quality around the world. As part of this work, I directed a short documentary that depicted a day in the life of a teacher in a practice school (a school developed specifically to support new teachers’ learning to teach).