Developing Leadership and Support for Professional Learning Communities for Urban Science Teaching

A collaborative project of Michigan State University and the Lansing School District,
funded by the National Science Foundation.

PI-CRUST Project Description


PROJECT OVERVIEW.  Retention and renewal of developing and accomplished teachers of science in urban schools depend on opportunities and support for learning.  This project will establish and maintain professional learning communities (PLCs) that provide such support for teachers and administrators whose learning is focused on:

  • disciplinary knowledge of core scientific theories, concepts, ideas, and models, and scientific ways of generating, representing, and validating knowledge;
  • studentsí understanding and ways of learning science;
  • standards- and research-based methods for teaching science; and
  • qualities of exemplary curricula in all scientific subdisciplines and grade levels K-8.

In Phase I, Michigan State University science education faculty and graduate students will work intensively and collaboratively each summer and school year with a core group of K-8 teachers and principals from the Lansing School District.  These individuals will become master teachers of science and co-leaders for Phase II.  They will document their participation in PLCs (the foci of which are listed above) and their developing understanding of:  science content and inquiry; standards- and research-based science teaching and assessment; exemplary science curricula; and tools for revising science curriculum materials to facilitate effective teaching and learning.  Grade-specific science units will be refined or developed as a means for gaining better understanding of effective science teaching and learning strategies.


In Phase II, teachers and principals who were participants in Phase I will act as co-leaders, mentoring and coaching new teachers and teachers new to standards-based, inquiry-oriented science teaching during the school year in their classrooms and in district-wide PLCs.  Documentation of inquiry in Phases I and II will provide resources for the districtís work with other teachers focused on:

  • inquiry into challenging, high-quality science teaching and learning;
  • exemplary science curriculum materials matched to state and national standards, revised for local urban contexts; and
  • experienced mentors and coaches for supporting teachers new to the district.

Project impact will be assessed by student performance on district, state, and national assessments of science understanding; quality of science units and assessments refined or developed by teacher participants; quality of support provided by school administrators; and additional professional development opportunities both provided and sought by participants.   



DATA SOURCES, COLLECTION, AND USE.  Data sources to be used to assess the effectiveness of the project will include:

  • interviews with project participants (teachers and school administrators) across the span of the five-year project (audiotaped, videotaped);
  • classroom observations of project participants teaching science units refined or developed in study groups or summer institutes (videotaped);
  • observations and recordings of after-school study groups and summer institutes (audiotaped, videotaped)
  • questionnaires and surveys of  project participants across the project;
  • assessments of students in teacher participantsí classrooms of their understanding of science topics developed or taught by teachers before and at varying points during and after classroom study to determine the impact of such classroom efforts on student learning (individual students will not be identifiable); and
  • participants' personal journal entries.

The data to be collected serve three purposes:  (1) to help study participants assess the extent and direction of their own professional development; (2) to use as resources for other teachers (particularly during the induction period), administrators, and teacher candidates; and (3) to assess the impact of the project on teacher effectiveness.



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This page was last updated:   2/13/2006

© 2002-2006 by PI-CRUST.   Any opinions, findings, or recommendations expressed in these project web pages are those of the project staff or participants to which they are attributed and do not necessarily reflect the views of all project participants, staff, or affiliated or funding agencies (including the National Science Foundation, Michigan State University, and the Lansing School District).