The role of collective sensemaking and science curriculum development within a research–practice partnership

Stefanie L. Marshall, Christina Restrepo Nazar, Amal Ibourk, Kevin W. McElhaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study examines how researchers can better understand the instructional and practical realities of teachers through collective sensemaking. Traditional approaches to curriculum design engage learning models without accounting for the needed flexibility of teachers. This approach has resulted in tension and gatekeeping—inhibiting the implementation of curriculum. Teachers are often considered relatively autonomous; however, this study sheds light on the constrained autonomy teachers experience resulting from internal and external pressures. This study examines the collective sensemaking process of researchers while developing a high school genetics curriculum. By examining the collective sensemaking of the areas of tension that arose during the curriculum design process, the problem space of researchers expanded and became more aligned with the problem space of teachers. Collective sensemaking encouraged the humanizing of teachers by centering their content, contextual, and social needs. In addition, this study suggests that gatekeeping can result from many factors; but through collective sensemaking, researchers can intentionally design to resolve said factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1202-1228
Number of pages27
JournalScience Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
NSF Award # 1119055.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC


  • curriculum
  • genetics
  • high school
  • research–practice partnership
  • science education


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