Supporting large scale change in science education

Barry Fishman, UMSI professor of information and professor of education in the U-M School of Education, is serving as a co-principal investigator on this project that studies the best ways to provide professional development to educators of Advanced Placement high-school courses. 

Start date: 9/15/2012
End date: 8/31/2016

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With recent changes to Advanced Placement (AP) tests—which give high-school students an opportunity to earn college credit and prepare them for university courses—the 20,000 instructors who teach AP science classes must adapt their techniques and curriculum accordingly.

This project leverages the AP curricula redesign in order to study the impact of teacher professional development on student achievement. The research will examine the professional development experienced by AP Biology, Chemistry and Physics teachers to determine the relationship between teacher and school characteristics and the professional development approaches that teachers choose. Researchers will also look for links between teachers’ professional development patterns and students outcomes, and examine the challenges in delivering various forms of professional development at this level of scale.

In addition to supporting the improvement of professional development for AP teachers, the findings of this study could lead to a better understanding of the relationship between a teacher’s professional development and student achievement in his or her classroom. 

Arthur Eisenkraft from the University of Massachusetts Boston is the lead investigator on this project. Abigail Jurist Levy from the Educational Development Center, Inc. and Christopher Dede from Harvard’ Graduate School of Education join Fishman as co-principal investigators on this project. 

Read the release announcing the initial National Science Foundation award to UMass Boston.


Supporting Large Scale Change in Science Education: Understanding Professional Development and Adoption Variation Related to the Revised Advanced Placement Curriculum (PD-RAP), National Science Foundation: $375,001


The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…"