Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning
SEDL's Promoting Instructional Coherence project was a project funded under SEDL's 1995-2000 Regional Educational Laboratory contract. the PIC project investigated problems teachers face in their efforts to make their practice more coherent or meaningful for students. From our early conversations and excursions into the research literature, we recognized the power afforded teachers when they were able to make their teaching decisions based on an understanding of their students as learners. The literature on learning theories and the implications for teaching practice supported this stance. Before completing the design for the applied research project, we examined several additional bodies of literature, including those on school reform and research approaches. We decided to use a collaborative approach to research, focusing on the experiences of classroom teachers as they struggled to make sense of reform initiatives and change their teaching practices. A study group format encouraged teachers to reflect on and inquire about their practice with colleagues and project staff. The literature on teacher learning and the change process was particularly important in this stage of our work. As the teachers became deeply engaged in conversations about teaching and learning, the need to explore the relationship between curriculum, assessment, and instruction became apparent, so references on these topics were examined.
SEDL identified, located, and annotated references to inform the work of the project. The references we included in the searchable bibliography are those we found particularly insightful and useful in helping us think about our research. The annotations will provide information about these references for other researchers and educators to use in developing their understandings of issues related to educational reform, coherent teaching practice, and improved student learning.
Users of this bibliography should be aware of two caveats.
- First, the bibliography is not exhaustive. As closer attention is brought to helping teachers make quality classroom decisions, the number of potential references expands dramatically, a fact that leads us to the second caveat.
- Second, the bibliography is not finished. Staff will continue to add annotations to the bibliography over the life of the project, exploring new lines of inquiry as they become apparent or needed.
- Like any other bibliography, this one is eclectic, drawn from the interests and knowledge of the staff and the needs of the project. Your favorite resource may or may not be included. However, care was taken to identify current, accessible, and readable references that were accurate, credible, and reliable and were useful to the explication of our topic. All of the references included were found to be useful and relevant to our exploration of meaningful classroom instruction.
Organization of Entries
After we began our work on the project and this bibliography, it became clear that we needed a way to organize the entries. Certain areas of literature informed our work and the following categories, although they may be imperfect, were found to be a useful way to sort the entries.
- Approaches to educational research--This area was reviewed in order to connect our work to accepted educational research strategies that use and value teacher perspectives. References describe collaborative educational research using qualitative (interpretive, narrative) methods, examine the roles of and relationships with teacher-participants, and explore teacher inquiry in school settings.
- Learning theory and implications for classroom practice--A good understanding of the literature on cognitive science and learning theory was critical because of the project's emphasis on student learning. References focus on constructivist learning, and the approaches to teaching that are consistent with this understanding of learning.
- School reform--Teachers and schools are operating in a climate of reform, so it was important for us to understand the demands and expectations placed on them by state and national reform initiatives. References were chosen to provide a background on current educational reform and implementation efforts as they relate to improving teaching practice and student learning.
- The change process--Teachers are being asked to change the ways they work, both by our project and by other reforms, so it is imperative to understand how people react to the process of change. References provide an overview of the literature on change and leadership and describe experiences of change in educational settings.
- Teacher learning--The project is an applied research project, so it was critical to consider how teachers grow professionally and how they learn in the context of their work. References were selected that explored current conceptions of professional development with particular attention to teacher learning, teacher growth, and collegial relationships within schools.
- Instructional practice: Curriculum, instruction, and assessment--Our actual work with teachers revolved around their approaches to teaching, so research in this area provided necessary background for project staff. References provide a snapshot of current best practice in teaching practice, and this area is expected to grow substantially in the future work of the project.
Some references could have been placed in more than one category, so judgments were made as to the category that made the most sense.