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University Partnerships

For many LSCs, reform efforts would not have been initiated without the impetus from university faculty. LSCs communicated their vision through meetings with university faculty and administrators, hiring liaisons to facilitate university/district partnerships and working with education departments to familiarize student teachers with LSC materials and classrooms. Some partnerships involved university-based centers, with clear functions for sustaining reform - for example, in disseminating materials and professional development to both LSC and non-LSC districts. Not only did the partnership result in development and institutionalization of systems for maintaining professional development, but also positive effects of university faculty participation in professional development sessions demonstrate the advantage of these affiliations. (Boyd et al, 2003)

As part of the LSC core evaluation, an analysis was conducted to examine the relationship between session quality and a number of session characteristics, including the type of provider leading a session and the type of teacher professional development activity. Session types included:

  • promoting/exploring reflective practice;
  • understanding student thinking/learning about mathematics/science content;
  • creating a vision of effective mathematics/science instruction;
  • explicit attention to strategies/issues/role of teacher leaders, principals or others in leadership positions;
  • building professional networks among educators;
  • increasing mathematics/science content knowledge of participants;
  • learning pedagogical/classroom management strategies; and
  • learning how to use specific instructional materials in the classroom

Among the providers considered were classroom teachers' teachers on special assignment; district mathematics/science supervisors and/or other district personnel; mathematics/science education faculty; college/university mathematics/science faculty and/or business industry scientists and other non-district personnel (e.g., museum personnel or textbook representatives). For 5 of the 8 professional development purposes examined, the type of provider was not an important predictor of session quality. The exceptions were sessions focused on creating a vision of effective instruction, promoting reflective practice and understanding student thinking, which tended to be rated more highly when university mathematics/science education faculty were among the facilitators. (Banilower & Shimkus, 2004)

Challenges

Other observations regarding content experts (which included university faculty) noted that, for the most part, care was taken during introductory workshops to present content in ways that did not overwhelmingly alienate teachers who lacked extensive backgrounds in mathematics and/or science. At times however, experts presented topics inappropriate for the participants - beyond their backgrounds and/or without clear links to the student materials. In other cases, evaluators suggested that inadequate preparation of professional development providers - both teacher leaders and content experts may have limited the quality of their work with teachers. (Banilower et al, 2004)


The LSC Capstone Report: Lessons from a Decade of Mathematics and Science Reform
(PDF) [354 KB]