RESEARCH AT Relay GSE
Researchers at Relay GSE are committed to producing innovative and timely scholarship on how teachers, in partnership with schools and communities, can raise student achievement and help young people develop the character strengths that are needed to be successful in school and life. We focus on four critical areas of inquiry: elements of effective teaching; preparing effective teachers of high-need students; tracking and measuring student achievement and character development; and teachers’ career trajectories.
As part of this work, we pose questions that have broad implications for teacher preparation. We also study our own programs to identify areas of strength and growth so that we are able to respond to the changing needs of our graduate students and the schools and districts that they serve as teachers. We share our research findings with others who are interested and engaged in educational reform through publications, presentations, and other resources that are made available via our website.
Our four major areas of research interest are described in more detail below.
ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE TEACHING
Exceptional teachers are made, not born. We investigate the “black box” of teaching and ask, “What characterizes great teaching?” Work in this area focuses on identifying the knowledge, mindsets, and effective teaching practices that lead to student achievement gains, especially for high-need students. We demystify the relationship between teachers’ practice and their students’ outcomes. In doing so, we build theories of action that describe why and how the field-tested techniques of champion teachers are effective in raising student achievement.
PREPARING EFFECTIVE TEACHERS OF HIGH-NEED STUDENTS
This area of research aims to improve our understanding of how to best prepare teachers to raise student achievement. As adult learners, how do teachers learn how to apply effective teaching practices in their own classrooms? What are the optimal instructional methods to use in teacher education? For example, we consider how technology (e.g., hybrid learning) can be leveraged to deliver meaningful and customizable curricula and produce valuable feedback to our graduate students about their classroom practice as teachers.
TRACKING AND MEASURING STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
Highly effective teachers measure and track their students’ learning and achievement on an on-going basis. We study current trends in the measurement of teacher-driven student achievement and assess how Relay GSE holds its MAT candidates accountable for their students’ achievement. We also describe how teachers can collect, analyze, reflect on, and respond to meaningful data about their students’ academic progress to make decisions in the classroom that contribute to students’ learning and character development.
TEACHERS’ CAREER TRAJECTORIES
Teachers represent diverse backgrounds and experiences and perform their important work as part of the changing landscape of America’s schools and communities. Here we examine the factors that inform, shape, and influence the teaching profession (e.g., teacher recruitment, preparation, and retention). Projects include case studies as well as policy analysis. For example, how do legislative and policy climates shape opportunities to increase the pipeline of highly-qualified and well-prepared beginning teachers?
MIXED METHODS, MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES
Our research addresses contemporary educational issues that are of consequence to a diverse community of stakeholders. We build this work upon an interdisciplinary foundation in the social sciences. Our frameworks and methodologies are drawn from the fields of education, sociology, public policy, economics, political science, and psychology, among others. The data that we collect and analyze come from a variety of sources, including our own graduate students and the K-12 classrooms and schools where they teach. We also take advantage of local, state, and national datasets that can elucidate the factors that contribute to students’ success.
We invite external researchers who share our commitment to preparing the next generation of effective, results-oriented teachers to join us in pursuing the lines of inquiry described above. There are opportunities for both established and emerging scholars (e.g., doctoral students) to engage in research and scholarly activities at Relay GSE. To learn more, please contact Dr. Billie Gastic, Director of Research