- Year 2022
- NSF Noyce Award # 1950260
- First Name Elaine
- Last Name Howes
- Discipline Other:Teacher Education
Elizabeth Edmondson, Virginia Commonwealth University; Dominick Fantacone, SUNY Cortland
Elaine Howes & Jamie Wallace, American Museum of Natural History; Kristen Piscopo, Ralph R. McKee Career and Technical Education High School
Teachers’ instruction, experiences, and knowledge are often the subjects of research (Cochran-Smith & Lytle 1993) – but regularly analyzed by others, which can result in studies that add to the research base but are not “relevant to their needs” (Stremmel, 2007). Practitioner inquiry and action research have provided structures and opportunities for teachers to conduct research in their own classrooms and schools, providing studies that connect more directly to teachers’ practice (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1993; Roberts et al, 2007). In this poster, we discuss a new role for teachers to conduct research: that of the Research Team Teacher (RTT). The RTT role illustrates how teachers conduct research as co-researchers alongside experienced educational researchers. Our Noyce Track 4 research project (AMNH, VCU, SUNY Cortland) exploring culturally responsive science teaching in high-need settings involves practicing science teachers as co-researchers outside of their own classrooms and schools studying culturally responsive science teaching through collecting and analyzing data based in educational contexts that are not their own. The RTTs shape the study through collaboratively developing instruments, collecting and analyzing data, and contributing to all research efforts and case study development. We will share this approach and engage in discussion about what RTTs and project leads are learning about and through collaborative research conducted by teachers and teacher educators.
Our goal for working with RTTs is to enrich the study by ensuring their full involvement in research procedures, analyses, and findings throughout the project. We will describe and explore the development of the evolving role of the RTTs from the perspectives of both the RTTs and the project leads. In the development of this role for practicing teachers, we wonder how experiences as a member of a research team might inform teachers’ thinking about instruction, if at all. Additionally, we are intrigued by the possibility that this role could provide another pathway or perspective on the teacher professional learning continuum (Feiman-Nemser, 2001; McMahon et al., 2015). Therefore, our poster will focus on two guiding questions:1. What have RTTs and project leads learned from working together as co-researchers exploring culturally responsive science education in the study thus far? 2. How might the RTT role fit into a continuum of the teaching profession in which teachers stay in the classroom while learning how to conduct and interpret case study research?
Research Team Teachers, who are practicing science teachers and graduates from our respective preparation programs, participate in all research efforts and case study development for this qualitative study. Through the project, RTTs have learned about qualitative research approaches, studied the literature in CRE and core practices, and engaged in data collection and analysis. Importantly, in this study RTTs are co-researchers rather than subjects of study (Han et al., 2014; Willegems et al., 2017). We are thus required to rethink and forefront teachers’ expertise as we grapple with “whose expertise counts in the education of new teachers and in the work of college and university teacher educators” (Zeichner et al., 2015, p. 10). Culturally responsive researchers commit to making research methods transparent and equitable (Rodriquez et al., 2011; Trainor & Bal, 2014), interrogate traditional ways of conducting research (Berryman et al, 2013), and examine researcher biases and contexts (Garribay, 2017), bringing multiple perspectives into the research through the inclusion of voices across various groups of stakeholders. Our data sources include reflective memos, meeting agendas, and notes. We draw on reflective practice methods (Geursen et al., 2016; Clandinin & Connolly, 2004; Lunenberg et al, 2007) while critically examining our roles and acknowledging our experiences and expertise (Bilous et al, 2018).
The pandemic affected the design of the RTT role as it did every other aspect of our lives. At the very beginning of the project, we decided that our research team meetings would be virtual for the foreseeable future. We were able to make the best out of the situation as we decided that we could support more RTTS from each program in addition to the two per program we had initially conceived. Because we were all working remotely, nine RTTs were able to participate from New York City, Richmond, Bozeman and Los Angeles. A broader geographic representation enriched conversations about CRE in vastly different contexts, including discussions about Indian Access for All, statewide standardized assessments, and highly problematic policies like banning critical race theory in schools.
These findings inform our development for Year 2 in that we seek to find balance in the RTT role, and continue to provide space and time to unpack teaching and research as a group. Importantly, we are continuing to support and explore the congruent development of teacher and researcher lenses which have become central to this new role (Gjelag, White, et al., 2022). We believe that our learning from this first year can inform those who hope to make their work with teachers more responsive. We wonder: Might the role of Research Team Teacher provide a model for teacher involvement in research outside of their classrooms in authentic ways?