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Intentional innovation: How four faculty in the LbSD Network are improving teacher preparation

Deans for Impact

Categories: Teaching Practice, Learning by Scientific Design

We caught up with four faculty members in the Learning by Scientific Design Network who are implementing changes to coursework that they designed last year. Read on to learn more about the process and their reflections.

Leah Brown | Assistant Professor, Secondary Education | University of Alaska Fairbanks

What are you working on right now in the Learning by Scientific Design Network?

Our program is currently in the implementation phase where we are piloting our revisions to coursework to include the learning science principles and teacher actions of Deepening Meaning and Learning and Connecting the Dots. We have been engaging in monthly data reviews of our candidates’ exit ticket assessments and collaborating on ideas for next steps for reteaching where needed this semester and modifications to content delivery for next year.

More specifically, in my teaching I am currently guiding the teacher-candidates in my internship seminar through the effortful thinking teacher action. The candidates have analyzed lesson plans and videos of teaching for the presence or absence of the key criteria. At our next session, they will apply what they have learned to modify a lesson plan to ensure timely and effortful-thinking prompts and activities that engage all students.

How has your practice changed recently as a result of this work?

As part of my practice in all of the courses I teach, I try to be intentional about integrating strategies that ensure active participation of all students both for their own learning but also as a means to model for candidates strategies they can use in their teaching. I share with them why the strategy ensures participation of all students and give them tips for how to facilitate it.

Now, as a result of our work with LbSD, I am bringing learning science into those discussions. For example, we discuss how a particular writing prompt on a quick write helped them to think more deeply about the topic or how having independent time to write before pairing up to discuss with a partner helped them to develop their ideas so they could have richer discussions.


Dr. Andrea S. Foster | Professor, Science Education | Sam Houston State University

What are you working on right now in the Learning by Scientific Design Network?

Currently, I am piloting the “analyze” and “modify” Attention to Meaning and Effortful Thinking modules with my EC-6 Science teacher-candidates. I’m also exploring ways to integrate the LbSD working into my Teaching Science in the Elementary School methods course. My other team members are piloting similar modules for the other teacher actions in Deepening Meaning and Learning and Connecting the Dots in their courses as well.

How has your practice changed recently as a result of this work?

I have had a few transformational moments inspired by my LbSD work this past year. I have struggled with trying to find the time to teach the modules even though I went into the Fall 2021 semester with a scope and sequence already worked out. I think I’ve been on autopilot for some many years; I didn’t consider other ways of teaching science methods. LbSD changed this. When I began to let go of some of things, I’ve “always done” (20+ years of teaching science methods at three universities), I began to see the value of the LbSD work, particularly in helping students modify their lesson plans to better align to standards and whose activities are more focused and support those standards.

One other transformational moment was figuring out how to best deliver the LbSD modules and work in Blackboard and then be able to analyze the data collected from the exit tickets to improve my own practice. I don’t think we do this enough (other than a scheduled once a semester “data day” with the whole college) as faculty.


Dr. Eun Kyung | Associate Professor | National Louis University

What are you working on right now in the Learning by Scientific Design Network?

I am piloting the analyze phase of all four teacher actions in a practicum course, and the modify and rehearsal phase of effortful thinking in a science teaching methods course. Since this is the first time to introduce teacher actions to the teacher-candidates, I created asynchronous modules for them to review the materials, and the following week we discussed in a synchronous session.

How has your practice changed recently as a result of this work?

I was able to provide a more close connection between learning science and the teacher actions through this work. In addition to that, teacher-candidates were able to make a clear focus when they design or analyze the lesson by avoiding common pitfalls. For example, I asked them to develop their lesson plans and review their works using common pitfalls as a checklist. It was very powerful to review their own work with the same lens. Before this framework, teacher-candidates were more focused on fun, hands-on activities, but now, they are trying to elicit students’ ideas and to make meaningful connections.


Dr. Steve Przymus | Assistant Professor of Bilingual/Multicultural Education | Texas Christian University

What are you working on right now in the Learning by Scientific Design Network?

This fall I have been teaching my students about the “effortful thinking” teacher action. I have taken the time to lead them through an introduction to Learning by Scientific Design, a lesson on analyzing work (lesson plans) for effortful thinking, an exploration of modifying lesson plans (in order to improve the effortful thinking in the lessons), and practice rehearsing “mini-teaching” of modified lesson plans.

I have been purposeful at recycling the effortful-thinking criteria and vocabulary throughout each lesson and experience. For example, we talk about the effortful-thinking criteria (timing, analyze and justify, and all learners) during our TESOL methods course lecture days, and then I look for teacher-candidates actually enacting elaborative thinking while out in the field observing and practice-teaching. Finally yet this fall, I am planning on a second round of “rehearsal,” with this time the students rehearsing a lesson plan that they developed.

How has your practice changed recently as a result of this work?

I think I have always been a creative teacher, but now I’m more aware of ensuring that my creative activities in class are aligned with the learning targets and are not in fact distracting students away from the “to be remembered” content/information that I’m teaching.