Connecting the Dots from Professional Development to Student Learning

Charlene L. Ellingson, Katherine Edwards, Gillian H. Roehrig, M. Clark Hoelscher, Rachelle A. Haroldson, Janet M. Dubinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Following professional development (PD), implementation of contemporary topics into high school biology requires teachers to make critical decisions regarding integration of novel content into existing course scope and sequence. Often exciting topics, such as neuroscience, do not perfectly align with standards. Despite commitment to enacting what was learned in the PD, teachers must adapt novel content to their perceptions of good teaching, local context, prior knowledge of their students, and state and district expectations. How teachers decide to integrate curricula encountered from PD programs may affect student outcomes. This mixed-methods study examined the relationship between curricular application strategies following an inquiry-based neuroscience PD and student learning. Post-PD curricular implementation was measured qualitatively through analysis of teacher action plans and classroom observations and quantitatively using hierarchical linear modeling to determine the impact of implementation on student performance. Participation in neuroscience PD predicted improved student learning compared with control teachers. Of the two distinct curricular implementation strategies, enacting a full unit produced significantly greater student learning than integrating neuroscience activities into existing biology units. Insights from this analysis should inform teacher implementation of new curricula after PD on other contemporary biology topics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberar57
JournalCBE life sciences education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank all the participating teachers and administrators for their input, cooperation, and eagerness to learn neuroscience. In addition, Selcen Guzey, Michael Michlin, Ken Jeddeloh, Devarati Bhattacharya, and J. McClelland contributed to the organization and evaluation of the teacher workshops, data collection, and analysis. Funding was provided by National Institutes of Health SEPA R25 OD011131 and the University of Minnesota Medical School to J.M.D.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 C. L. Ellingson et al.


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