Teacher Learning of Technology-Enhanced Formative Assessment
Group Page: 
Beatty, Ian D.
Leonard, William J.
US National Science Foundation grant ESI-0456124 (TPC)
Starting date: 

TLT was a five-year research project studying how secondary science and mathematics teachers learn to use an electronic "classroom response system" to implement a specific pedagogical approach called Technology-Enhanced Formative Assessment (TEFA).

Background: Classroom response systems (CRSs) were technology that helped an instructor poll students' responses to a question, displaying a graphical chart of the class' aggregated answers. These systems, although simple in concept, could have a beneficial and even transformative effect on instruction.* TEFA was a pedagogy that Gerace, Leonard, Beatty, and colleagues had developed over 15 years to support effective science teaching with a CRS. Teachers at the university, high school, and middle school levels had succeeded with TEFA, but mastering it was often challenging and time-consuming, and took extensive support.

Objectives: The TLT project was designed with three goals: (1) to better understand teacher learning of CRS technology and TEFA, and consequent changes to their practice; (2) to better understand effective and efficient methods of teacher professional development in TEFA; and (3) to develop tools and techniques for the evaluation of teachers' TEFA mastery, of suitable design and quality for use in a controlled, randomized study of the effects of TEFA on student learning.

Professional Development: Project staff had conducted (and continue to conduct) intensive, sustained, on-site professional development (PD) programs for 40 middle- and high-school science and math teachers at six schools in three Western Massachusetts school districts. PD focuses on use of CRS technology (provided to the teachers by the project), practice of the TEFA pedagogy, development of supporting curriculum elements, and attendant teaching issues. It began with a four-day summer workshop, continued with a year of weekly or biweekly after-school meetings, and ended with one or two years of monthly after-school meetings. The PD was itself conducted according to the TEFA approach.

Research: The project used a longitudinal, delayed-intervention design. Data was collected via several channels, including interviews and regular questionnaires for participating teachers, surveys for their students, videotaping of classes being taught, and video- and audio-taping of professional development meetings. Analysis was mixed-methods, focused on detailed, heavily triangulated case studies and cross-case analysis. Significant new instrumentation had been developed, tested, and refined during the course of the project.

Outcomes: Project staff had compiled detailed case studies of four participants, with partial profiles of several others, and had developed an initial model of teacher learning and pedagogical transformation called the "model for the co-evolution of teacher and pedagogy." A TEFA PD program had been developed and iteratively improved, and the TEFA pedagogy had been more clearly articulated, defended, elaborated, and disseminated. Experiences, methods, and preliminary results had been presented at several different professional conferences.

* For references, contact Ian Beatty (

The TLT project is funded primarily by grant TPC-0456124 from the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed here or in other project publications are those of the principal investigators and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.

Additional project support has been provided by InterWrite Learning (now owned by eInstruction), makers of the PRS-RF classroom response system.