Ethnography & Evaluation Research (E&ER) has studied several programs that address professional development for science educators and scientists at various career stages. In higher education, these include faculty leadership development, women’s career advancement, and STEM teaching. Our work in K-12 education has focused on teacher professional development. Also see our work on professional development of scientists for their education outreach roles.
We have also worked on developing and understanding a variety of descriptive and evaluative measures to characterize teaching practices and change in these practices over time.
We have written extensively about the outcomes and processes for a decade-long series of intensive workshops on teaching college mathematics with inquiry-based learning.
IBL Centers Workshops (2010-2013)
As evaluators for four universities who have offered intensive week-long workshops on inquiry-based learning in college mathematics, we are documenting immediate and longer-term changes in faculty knowledge, beliefs, and teaching practices as a result of participating in a workshop. The results highlight the impact of multi-day, interactive workshops that help faculty learn teaching methods, think through problems, and plan their own course.
SPIGOT Workshops (2013-2015)
Evaluation of a second series of multi-day, interactive workshops on inquiry-based learning (IBL) in college mathematics shows that a high proportion of participating instructors are implementing IBL approaches in their own classrooms. Their implementation is supported by active discussion on a cohort-based e-mail list.
PRODUCT Workshops (2015-2020)
Using the same tools developed for the IBL Centers and SPIGOT workshops, we studied a third series of multi-day, interactive workshops on inquiry-based learning (IBL) in college mathematics. We provide formative and summative evaluation feedback to the PRODUCT project offered by the Academy of Inquiry Based Learning.
We developed a structural model of workshop participant outcomes that is based on Ajzen's (1991) theory of planned behavior. We can do this using the large, combined data set from the three workshop series combined (IBL Centers, SPIGOT, PRODUCT) because they are broadly similar in design and implementation (see Research Products, above). The structural model suggests that the workshops affect instructors' skills, knowledge and attitudes. These in turn influence instructors' intention to use IBL and their reported intensity of use. Their work contexts matter too, especially specific features of their local course context that simplify and thus support implementation of IBL.
In addition, we are exploring questions of how workshops of different types (face to face or online, longer or shorter duration) play a role in supporting instructors to learn, develop interest, and implement IBL approaches.
Summer intensive workshops - examples of formative reports
Summer intensive workshops - summative reports
Online intensive workshops
Traveling workshop series - formative and summative reports
We served as evaluators for UTMOST, Undergraduate Teaching in Mathematics with Open Software and Textbooks, which supported faculty development and implementation for mathematics instructors to use Sage open-source software and Sage-based open-source textbook materials in their classroom teaching. Results highlight the outcomes of Sage EDU Days and the team's working process.
Evaluation of the IBL Centers workshops was supported by the National Science Foundation under award DUE-0920126 and by the Educational Advancement Foundation. Evaluation of the SPIGOT workshops was supported under NSF award DUE-1225658. Evaluation of the PRODUCT project and cumulative analysis of the workshop data were supported under DUE-1525077. Evaluation of UTMOST was supported under NSF award DUE-1020687. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these reports are those of the researchers, and do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the funders.
Professional development for women scientists
We evaluated career development workshops for women scientists. To learn about this work, visit our page on ADVANCE Partnerships, Workshops for Women Faculty.
As part of our evaluation work for the Biological Sciences Initiative (BSI) at the University of Colorado at Boulder, E&ER studied a classroom outreach program in which graduate student scientists visit K-12 classrooms to present inquiry-based science lessons. Benefits to students and teachers suggest the potential and limitations of short-term classroom interventions. Graduate student scientists experienced powerful professional growth as effective teachers and reported significant impacts on their career paths.
Drawing on data from three evaluation studies of innovations in STEM undergraduate education in chemistry and astronomy, this synthetic analysis portrays the work of teaching assistants in undergraduate courses and identifies how they can help—or hinder—educational innovation. Interview data from TAs offers insights about the sources of student resistance and identifies TAs’ professional development needs.
As evaluators for CoMInDS, the College Mathematics Instructors Development Source, we gathered data to assess needs and improve programming for people who lead teaching professional development for graduate TAs in mathematics departments. We also developed profiles of different types of TAPD programs to help TAPD leaders choose and refine their own program model. See "Preparation of Graduate Students for Teaching" for more about this work.
We evaluated a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) on evidence-based STEM teaching, developed by members of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL Network). The evaluation focused on MOOC-centered learning communities and how facilitators prepared for and led them. The formative reports provided here are data sources that informed later publications.
Evaluation of CoMInDS was supported by the National Science Foundation under award DUE-1432381. Evaluation of the BSI was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Evaluation of the CIRTL MOOC was supported by the National Science Foundation under award DUE-1347605. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these reports are those of the researchers, and do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the funder.
Evaluation work for LEAP, an ADVANCE Institutional Transformation project at the University of Colorado at Boulder, identified faculty gains from participating in multi-day leadership workshops. Other analyses identified faculty development needs at the individual, departmental, and institutional levels.
Studies for LEAP were supported by the National Science Foundation under award HRD-0123636. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these reports are those of the researchers, and do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the NSF.
E&ER has worked with CU Boulder’s Biological Sciences Initiative on its teacher professional development programs. We have examined immediate post-workshop and longer-term outcomes from the BSI’s one- to three-day workshops focused on basic science concepts, cutting-edge scientific developments, or new technologies in the life sciences. Evaluation findings from surveys and interviews indicate teachers’ growth in content understanding, confidence in their ability to teach these ideas, and a sense of being supported by a network of colleagues and the BSI staff. Many teachers reported making classroom use of new teaching materials. Relatively few teachers reported gains in pedagogical content knowledge, and teachers did not always perceive ways to adjust workshop materials for their own students, curriculum, or other constraints.
These resources assist professional developers in conceptualizing and preparing for their role in helping faculty understand, select and adopt strategies for more effective teaching.
We are interested in questions about how to measure change in teaching, as a result of professional development or departmental change work. Our research on developing, evaluating and applying measures of teaching is ongoing.
Development and applications of survey measures
Development and applications of observation measures
These studies were supported by the National Science Foundation under awards DUE-1245436 and DUE-1821704 and by the Spencer Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these reports are those of the researchers, and do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the funder.