Building a Conceptual Model of Learning-Trajectory Based Instruction

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

The overarching goal of this study is to develop a conceptual model of Learning Trajectory Based Instruction (LTBI). At the start of this project, we define LTBI as the ways in which teachers use their own knowledge of a LT to organize their instructional practices and participate in their professional communities. Through the research proposed in this project, we explore the concept of LTBI within one specific content domain, equipartitioning, and we work with the equipartitioning learning trajectory (EPLT) developed by researchers at NC State University. We propose to refine the initial working definition of LTBI as we investigate: (1) the ways teachers’ knowledge of EPLT develops; (2) the ways teachers use their knowledge of EPLT in instruction; (3) the ways teachers use their knowledge of EPLT for participation in a professional development learning community; and (4) the ways in which teachers’ knowledge of EPLT is disseminated in teachers’ daily interactions at the school.


All LTBI work will take place in elementary schools in the east coast. The first two years of the grant will involve one school; the project will scale up to three schools in year three. What is important to consider is that the project's intervention (professional development) is school-based and involves all teachers in the school who choose to participate.

Research Design: 

This project has a cross-sectional research design and will generate evidence that is descriptive [design research]. Original data will be collected using diaries, assessments of learning, and observation [personal observation and videography]. The intervention that serves as the context for this study is a 96 hour, year-long professional development program for elementary school teachers. Instruments or measures include LMT measure of teacher knowledge; Diagnosing Teachers' Multiplicative Reasoning (NSF DRL-0903411) measure of teacher knowledge; and DELTA assessment (NSF DRL-073272) measures of student and teacher knowledge of equipartitioning. Students of participating teachers also take at pre and post DELTA assessment. Data is also collected to complete a network analysis of the ways in which knowledge from the project is disseminated among participating teachers in partner schools.

As it is usual for design experiments, the main form of data analysis used in this part of the project consists of constant comparison methods (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) and the search for grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Connected to the idea of examining a learning ecology, this method of analysis allows for the creation of emerging categories in the data analysis and the refinement of these categories as they are contrasted with new project data. Various sources of data are used for the ongoing analysis and for triangulating information (Miles & Huberman,1994) in search of both confirming and disconfirming evidences. It is this constant refinement of the categories and of the research lenses that allows for the understanding of the learning ecology supported by design experiments and the development of refined conjectures and intervention. For feasibility purposes, design experiments also require focused data analyses that attend to the projects’ conceptual framework and to the more targeted research questions posed by the researchers. We begin our research with initial learning conjectures and use complementary data analysis methods to supplement our constant comparison method.


Findings will be posted as they become available.

Other Products: 

At the end of the design experiment, we will have a revised intervention with a set of revised learning conjectures.