What is Improving Practice Together?

The IPT project was a six-year research practice partnership to build the capacity of teachers to teach scientific argumentation by developing sustainable teacher leadership. The PRACTISE professional learning model for supporting elementary teachers to facilitate argumentation was adapted to the structures and needs of the district through the collaboration of all partners. Teachers were recruited to gradually become teacher leaders. They focused on improving their own classroom practice first, then co-facilitated professional learning sessions with the Lawrence Hall of Science team, and ultimately, facilitated sessions on their own. Throughout the project, the Research & Evaluation team* collected and analyzed data to (1) make real-time recommendations to the professional learning team and (2) learn about how to best support student argumentation and the development of teacher leadership, with a goal of sharing these findings with the science education field.

Teacher leaders experienced initial success improving their own classroom practice for facilitating science argumentation. When the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, our priorities shifted to supporting the immediate transition to remote teaching and learning, and to creating a website to share the project’s professional learning and research resources. Teacher leaders focused on supporting their peers and on contributing to the website development. These shifts were made more complex by the changing priorities of new district leadership. 

The project was complex – people in each of the partner organizations played multiple roles and engaged in multiple tasks. Not surprisingly, the partnership evolved in multiple ways. Below is a chart showing the timeline and major activities as outlined in the proposal, and notation in red showing how the project evolved over time.

*While both research and evaluation involve data collection and analysis, they are not the same thing. Typically, evaluation has the goal of providing feedback on a specific program, while research has the goal of contributing generalizable findings that are informative to the wider field (other practitioners, researchers, etc.). Due to the nature of the partnership, in our project, the Research and Evaluation team collaborated toward both goals.

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