Research-Practice Partnerships as a Strategy for Supporting

Partnerships as a Strategy for
Supporting Implementation of
the NRC Framework and Next
Generation Science Standards
William R. Penuel
University of Colorado-Boulder
Meet the Teachers of Downton
Meet the Teachers of Downton
• New standards were adopted in science
just two years ago.
• The district is shifting from teacherassembled to adopted curriculum.
• The district’s own evaluations of the
science program reported significant
shortcomings in curriculum, assessment,
implementation monitoring, and
professional development.
A Framework Workshop
• Purpose
– To introduce teachers to the new
Framework for K-12 Science Education
• Context
– Funded by the National Science
Foundation through a RAPID Grant
– Collaborative effort: Michigan State
University, University of Colorado
Boulder, and SRI International
Modeling as a Practice
By Grade 12, students should be able to:
Construct drawings or diagrams as representations
of events or systems—for example, to draw a
picture of an insect with labeled features, to
represent what happens to the water in a puddle as
it is warmed by the sun, or to represent a simple
physical model of a real-world object and use it as
the basis of an explanation or to make predictions
about how the system will behave in specified
Teachers’ Ideas About Modeling
• Models as Demonstrations
“When students experience disequilibration, they
are able to change their understanding about big
ideas through modeling and questioning by
“The model gives students some background
knowledge of how waves act, provides common
• Models as Descriptive Drawings
“The globe model is used to teach students the
relative size, temperature, and composition of Earth
Teachers’ Ideas About Researchers
• Too confrontational
• Not respectful enough about wisdom of
practice and direct knowledge of students
• The Framework is too “theoretical” and not
grounded enough in problems of practice
as experienced by teachers
Déjà Vu All Over Again
• Teachers, coaches, and principals’ interpretations
of the standards shape classroom practice
(Spillane, 2006; Spillane, Reiser, & Gomez, 2006).
• Even when policymakers align elements of the
system to cohere, it’s teachers’ perceptions of
coherence that shape implementation (Penuel et
al., 2009).
• Standards implementation benefits from contentfocused professional development of an extended
duration (Garet et al., 2001; Supovitz & Turner,
Alternate Pathways to Promoting
• Dissemination
– Workshops, articles in NSTA journals,
presentations, Web sites
• Purposeful diffusion
– Based on an analysis of existing networks of
organizations devote to the improvement of
– Takes advantage of existing capacity
• Collaborative Inquiry and Adaptation
– Presumes the need for extensive, collective
– Can involve more enduring research-practice
Purposeful Diffusion
Purposeful Diffusion
Social network diagram from: Daly &
Finnigan (2009)
Nodes and Ties
Organizational Nodes
State Departments of Education
STEM networks
Schools and Colleges of Education
District curriculum offices
Independent PD providers
Textbook and materials providers
Individual Nodes
State directors
District curriculum supervisors
Teacher leaders/coaches
Nodes and Ties
Organizational Nodes
State Departments of Education
STEM networks
Schools and Colleges of Education
District curriculum offices
Independent PD providers
Textbook and materials providers
Individual Nodes
State directors
District curriculum supervisors
Teacher leaders/coaches
Types of Ties
Dissemination of information
Teaching (e.g., professional
development workshops)
Ongoing guidance (e.g., coaching)
Joint Work
Characteristics of Ties
Differences in Knowledge
Why Think About Networks?
• Overcome limits of dissemination.
Why Think About Networks?
• Makes use of existing mechanisms
through which knowledge can flow.
Why Think About Networks?
• Helps establish norms for engagement
with the new Framework.
Networks and Innovation
• Social Cohesion
– Frequent communication
– Strong emotional connections
• Network Range
– Ties to different knowledge pools
Ray Reagans
Bill McEvily
Big Idea 1: Social cohesion and network range
affects the willingness and motivation of individuals
to invest time, energy, and effort in sharing
knowledge with others
The Strength of Strong Ties
• Big Idea 2: When knowledge is complex,
strong ties are needed for knowledge
transfer and innovation.
• Big Idea 3: When gaps between target
understandings and current
understandings are wide, weak ties to
different knowledge pools are less useful.
Networks and School Change
• Big Idea 4: Every
node (organization or
person) needs access
to an expert.
• Big Idea 5: Every
node doesn’t need to
be connected to every
other node.
Otherwise, there are
too many cooks in the
At Your Tables
• In your state, what organizations are or include people
who have expertise in:
– the Framework?
– Helping people in districts and schools understand new
policies and programs?
– Both?
• In your state, what organizations or nodes are
influential and well-connected to districts and schools?
• What kinds of ties between these two types of nodes:
– Currently exist?
– Should be formed, to enable implementation of the
– What work is feasible to be done to form new ties between
nodes with expertise and nodes with influence?
Research-Practice Partnerships
A long-term collaboration between district
leaders and researchers that is organized to
investigate locally-defined problems of
practice and to gather information about
problems and solutions that can inform
decision making.
Research-Practice Partnerships
• Focus on jointly negotiated, persistent
problems of practice
• Place-based
• Long-term
• Researchers develop original analyses
• Seek to build capacity for improvement
Consortium on Chicago School
MIST Project
• Focused on improving the quality of
mathematics instruction at scale in four
• All districts using the same reform-based
curriculum materials (CMP)
• Researchers’ role is to capture data on
teaching, other aspects of the district’s
theory of action
DBIR Network
• Design-based implementation research:
– An approach to research-practice
partnerships in which the focus is on design
and study of supports for implementation
• Organized a loose network of scholars and
educational leaders engaged in this work
in and outside of school settings
Return to Downton
• Addressing the learning needs of teachers
– Safe, collegial place to learn about how core
ideas are blended with practices
– Place to share ideas and solicit feedback on
curriculum implementation
• Addressing the organizational and
institutional needs for capacity building
– Access to technology
– Addressing increasing diversity of students of
Return to Downton
• Targeted diffusion
– Connect early successful adopters of curriculum
to key teacher leaders with respect to influence
– Organize follow up professional development to
maximize peer support
• Research-practice partnership approach
– Start where the teachers are (Caught in the
middle) and jointly identify a problem of practice
– Co-design and study solutions together.
– Make iterative refinements with them.
Learn More…
Join the breakout session
Penuel, W. R., & Fishman, B. J. (2012). Large-scale intervention
research we can use. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,
49(3), 281-304.
Penuel, W. R., Fishman, B. J., Cheng, B., & Sabelli, N. (2011).
Organizing research and development at the intersection of
learning, implementation, and design. Educational Researcher,
40(7), 331-337.

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