Supporting teachers and their learning


Susan McKenney & Hannie Gijlers

Teachers learn at the start of the careers (preservice education) and throughout their working lives (inservice education). They learn informally, through communities of practice, through formal programs and through professional experimentation in the classroom. A crucial motivator for teacher learning is the desire to improve learner outcomes. This theme explores ways to support the connection between teacher learning and pupil learning.

One series of studies conducted to this theme is embedded in the IMPULS project. In this project, innovative curriculum materials are being created for Dutch secondary school science classes, in which cutting edge research at the University of Twente (physics, chemistry, robotics, mathematics, informatics) provides the context for pupil learning of specific concepts (this is referred to as the context-concept approach). For example, chemistry pupils can learn about redox and molecular structure in the context of research on advanced systems for delivering drugs to the body, or tissue engineering. The new materials should help teachers enact new lessons. The materials should also help teachers develop their understanding of learners and how to teach them specific concepts. Some student projects are structured to analyse the existing situation and generate design guidelines or initial prototypes. Others offer the opportunity to design tools and evaluate them.

Sample research questions from each phase in this series of studies are:


How does teacher understanding of student (mis)conceptions contribute to their understanding of how to represent concepts in different ways? 


How can digital tools (for teachers or learners) support classroom argumentation in context-concept learning modules? 


What do teachers learn from the (e.g. argumentation-based) formative assessment data of their students?