Grant Boosts Notre Dame Center's Research on Science Teachers' Use of Student Data

January 02, 2014William Schmitt

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The Notre Dame Center for STEM Education has been awarded a $300,000 grant by the Spencer Foundation to study how indicators of student learning can influence—and help to improve—the instructional practices of middle-school science teachers in the classroom.

This grant, part of the Foundation’s support for pathbreaking research through its “Evidence for the Classroom” initiative, is a collaboration between PI, Dr. Matt Kloser – Director for Notre Dame’s Center for STEM Education, Co-PI Dr. Hilda Borko of Stanford University, and Dr. Felipe Martinez of UCLA.

The newly funded project is titled “Improving Science Teachers’ Use of Data for Instructional Decisions: Using Assessment Portfolios for Professional Development.” This 2.5 year project will build upon their previous work to assess quality in science teaching using portfolio artifacts.

In this study, middle-school teachers will keep notebook records revealing whether, when, and how they interpret and use student performance data to fine-tune their efforts. The records will be analyzed by the research team led by Kloser,a faculty fellow in Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives.

Teachers will also participate in professional development and create action plans to act on the data. Afterwards, the research team will assess how science teachers and students benefited overall from the use of data and from the professional development encouraging smarter use of the indicators.

Rev. Timothy Scully, CSC, director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, congratulated Kloser and the team for receiving the prestigious grant. “This is important research, with key national partners, that will make a significant contribution to the field of science education,” Scully said.

The Spencer Foundation, established in 1962, is a major supporter of research deemed valuable in improving education around the world.