Work Circles: Developing research sensitive teachers and practice-sensitive researchers

BEAR Center Participants: 
Mark Wilson, Brent Duckor

Lawrence Hall of Science Participants: 
Kathy Long

Consultant Participants: 
Paul Black, King's College London

This is a 15 month applied research project to investigate the implementation and impact of a pilot implementation of an innovative group research and professional development structure called a Work Circle. It is proposed by the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) and BEAR, working with partner schools. A Work Circle will be established and its organization, operation, and accomplishments will be investigated over time. A Work Circle is conceived as a vital and dynamic small organizational unit, engaging specialists, practitioners, and researchers in collaborative R&D. The partners on this proposal have worked in collaborative, project-oriented environments for many years, and know that focused teamwork can produce results. Within our existing R&D teams, we have experienced how the innovative collaboration of specialists and practitioners working on problems in authentic settings is the most powerful way to achieve solutions and support the mutual professional development of highly qualified people who can bridge the gap between research and practice. This project will produce a number of products (several types of new assessments, implementation approaches, "next-steps" strategies) as well as significant professional development. Major outcomes include (1) best practices for implementation of an assessment system, based on the principles of the BEAR Assessment System; (2) Each of the types of educational professionals involved in the Work Circle (teachers, specialists and researchers) will have the opportunity (a) to improve their skills in working in multidisciplinary and multi-layered teams, and (b) to understand the different specialist roles that they might themselves decide to move towards, and to try-out some of the activities of those roles.