The goal of the KSTF Research and Evaluation (R&E) program is to build the organizations’ capacity for program improvement and impact within and beyond KSTF. R&E provides direction and support for ongoing improvement of KSTF programs, guides the organization’s effort to generate knowledge from our practice, and connects those efforts with broader fields of educational research and practice.
Investing in an internal research and evaluation program makes a strong statement that inquiry is a fundamental mindset for KSTF professional practice. This mindset ties our programs together as a culture and community that continually seeks to examine, monitor and improve what we do. It says that knowledge not only comes from “out there” but also from “in here.” At the same time, an internal research and evaluation program serves as a link between KSTF efforts and those of other educational communities working to improve secondary mathematics and science education.
As an organization, KSTF realizes the imperative to write about and present findings from KSTF research and evaluation studies for multiple audiences. We have an obligation to share what we learn with the wider educational community. We are working together to develop papers, book proposals, panel presentations and occasional conferences on beginning teacher support, teacher quality, teacher leadership and other issues of importance to the national dialogue on mathematics and science education.
The KSTF research program supports innovative and rigorous studies of teacher development, teaching, learning, and leadership across the KSTF organization. We are particularly interested in supporting practitioner inquiry studies by KSTF Fellows and staff.
Practitioner Inquiry Studies
WHAT WE DO
The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation supports collaborative studies of practice by KSTF Fellows and staff. These studies deepen our understanding of practitioner inquiry, its influence on teacher and student learning, and the impact on teacher leadership and professional identity. To that end, the KSTF research program:
- Provides resources that support practitioner inquiry (such as research groups, coaching and writing support), and
- Advocates for enhanced visibility of practitioner inquiry in teacher professional development, educational research and policy decisions.
In 2011, the KSTF research program initiated a practitioner inquiry group called Practitioner Inquiry for the Next Generation (PING). The ten PING Fellows have been collectively exploring practitioner inquiry methods, deepening their understanding of practitioner inquiry and examining its potential to improve teaching within their PING community and beyond.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
Public school teachers in the U.S. educational system have long struggled to claim the professional status that independent professions (such as doctors and lawyers) assert*. Consequently, they also lack authority to generate knowledge and monitor the quality of their work. Practitioner inquiry studies make an important contribution toward strengthening teaching as a profession and influencing national debates on teacher quality.
*Adler, Kwon, & Heckscher, 2008
The KSTF community collectively explores compelling questions about how beginning math and science teachers become effective teachers and strong teacher leaders. Our ultimate goal is to improve math and science education for all learners.
Jodie A. Galosy,
Director for Research and Evaluation,
Knowles Science Teaching Foundation
WHAT WE DO
The KSTF research and evaluation team works with program staff to conduct internal research studies and form targeted partnerships with external researchers to study KSTF programs. We take a multidisciplinary approach to our work, investigating teacher and student learning from a variety of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. Our research activities focus on areas relevant to the national discourse on improving mathematics and science teaching including:
- examining innovative teaching and teacher education practices,
- exploring learning pathways of beginning teachers and teacher leaders, and
- studying processes for building learning communities and knowledge generation within these communities.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
Teacher education research panels consistently point to the need for longitudinal studies of teacher learning that are discipline-specific and bring together a variety of perspectives (AERA Research Panel, 2005). Few organizations have the access KSTF does to a sizeable number of teachers, working in a variety of contexts, throughout their careers. This uniquely positions us to study how science and mathematics teachers learn over time to continually enhance their practice, positively impact their students’ learning, and become teacher leaders. KSTF programs are rich testbeds for building a more robust educational system that supports the development, vitality and professional practice of high school science and mathematics educators.
Evaluation has always been integral to the development and improvement of KSTF programs. We use a variety of methods to evaluate program effectiveness that include critical review by KSTF staff, feedback from Fellows and observation by external evaluators.
WHAT WE DO
KSTF internal evaluation efforts respond to the needs and challenges that arise from the daily work of the organization through ongoing cycles of inquiry, assessment and feedback into program development and improvement. A major focus of our internal evaluation efforts is building the organization’s capacity for evaluative thinking and practice. KSTF also works with external partners who serve in multiple evaluation roles that include providing formative feedback for program improvement; strategic design and decision making guidance; evidence of KSTF’s influence and impact; and program documentation for external audiences.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
KSTF is committed to ongoing organizational learning. As a learning organization, KSTF relies on embedded program evaluation processes and findings for continuous improvement and informed decision making.