Student Experience Research Network (SERN) is pleased to release research snapshots and working papers from the seven projects in our K-12 Teachers and Classrooms Research Portfolio. The portfolio was launched to yield new knowledge about teacher beliefs and practices that foster inclusion and support students’ experience of feeling respected as valued people and thinkers, as well as knowledge about the measurement of such classroom environments. SERN was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the K-12 Teachers and Classrooms Research Portfolio.
The projects shed light on how curriculum and instruction, classroom discourse, beliefs about discipline, and other structures shape students’ experience of classroom contexts. They also exemplify practically relevant, equity-centered, and interdisciplinary research.
The projects include 11 SERN scholars working alongside 42 external collaborators, including several early career scholars. The majority of research teams include practitioner partners, all projects incorporate multiple disciplinary lenses and methodological approaches, and three research teams partnered directly with school and district stakeholders. In their approaches to measurement, many teams use multiple sources of evidence, center the experiences of minoritized students, or otherwise set a high standard for studying the complexities of student experience.
Research teams prepared brief snapshots of their projects, which are available via the links below.
- Thomas Dee and Sade Bonilla led a project that evaluated the longer-term effects of San Francisco Unified School District’s 9th grade ethnic studies course on high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment, providing new evidence on the positive impacts of anti-racist and culturally responsive education.
- Sidney D’Mello and colleagues coded video recordings of teacher discourse in mathematics classrooms in the Measures of Effective Teaching data set to identify specific practices that can shape students’ belonging and achievement (e.g., praise; admonishment). They also explored automating their analyses as an opportunity to provide teachers with fine-grained and lesson-specific feedback on their instructional practices.
- Eric Grodsky, Patti Schaefer, and colleagues surveyed students and teachers in five Madison Metropolitan School District middle schools to examine how teacher beliefs are related to students’ belonging and achievement in mathematics and how students’ belonging varies across classrooms.
- Yasmiyn Irizarry, Tia Madkins, and colleagues conducted a literature review and interviewed high school teachers in order to characterize racialized mathematics learning environments and identify evidence-based inclusive mathematics teaching practices. Building from this work, they developed and delivered a first of its kind national survey to determine how high school mathematics teachers’ racialized beliefs are related to their classroom practices.
- Neil Lewis, Jr., Rene Kizilcec, and colleagues embedded surveys in an Advanced Placement computer science course to learn about students’ psychological experience of the course, including how these experiences changed throughout the course and varied based on student demographics and classroom- and school-level factors.
- Jamaal Matthews and DeLeon Gray led a team that developed and validated a Belonging-Centered Instruction Observation Protocol based on existing literature, interviews with Black and Latinx adolescents, and quantitative analysis of coded video recordings in the Measures of Effective Teaching data set. The protocol encompasses three interpersonal and four instructional dimensions of belonging-supportive teaching practice in mathematics contexts, filling a need in the field for observational tools focused on belonging that center the specific experiences of students of color.
- Jason Okonofua and colleagues scaled up delivery of an empathic mindset exercise that encourages teachers to value students’ perspectives and nurture relationships with students, which had previously been shown to reduce suspension rates in an initial sample. They studied the effects of the exercise in a large public school district in the southeastern United States, including variation in those effects across students.
To learn more about the projects, please find the teams’ working papers on SERN’s Data Archive for Interdisciplinary Research on Learning (DAIRL). The DAIRL working paper series makes insights from SERN-funded projects available in advance of publication in order to share learning with the field on a more rapid timeline and foster discussion and feedback from the field.
Finally, to learn more about experiences of inclusion and marginalization in mathematics and belonging-supportive environments – two topics taken up by many of the projects in this portfolio – check out the findings from our Inclusive Mathematics Environments Early Career Fellowship and our recent research synthesis, Structures for Belonging. SERN is thrilled to be able to build on this work and release findings from these seven projects that provide insights into inclusive classroom environments and practices, as well as new tools and evidence that can support their development.