Fostering a New Approach to Research on Teacher Preparation: Results of the First Convening of Researchers, Practitioners, and K–12 Educators

Jenny DeMonte

We know that students learn more when they receive high-quality instruction. We also have findings suggesting that some teacher preparation programs produce graduates that are more capable than others. These two pieces of evidence have led many teacher educators, researchers, and stakeholders to conclude that we need better studies of activities and experiences that are part of teacher preparation to learn about their impact on what teacher candidates know and can do.

To help support the progress toward these kinds of studies, American Institutes for Research brought together 35 researchers, teacher preparation providers, and school leaders to discuss what kind of research designs would help teacher preparation providers improve their programs. They collectively agreed on some key themes to guide study designs—the research should be nuanced, actionable, formative, and contextualized. The themes could inform research designs that can fairly quick lead to findings to inform teacher preparation—findings that are at the right grain-size, and speak directly to what goes on in preparation programs and be useful to providers hoping to improve teacher preparation.

Participants also talked about challenges to conducting research within teacher preparation, and also prioritized some research questions. Prior to the next convening in October 2017, participants will design research that can lead to the kind of findings providers seek to inform improvements in their programs. Participants will share their designs at the meeting and offer feedback to each other. Ultimately, we will report on what took place at the second convening, and offer some recommendations for designing research in teacher preparation.