New Initiative to Bring Developmental Science into the Classroom

The Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) is beginning a new initiative that aims to bring developmental science into classrooms across the country. This work will kick off with a 2-day meeting in June focused on how measures can be used to bring knowledge and research from developmental science into everyday practice in schools across the country.

Developmental science, which examines the conditions and processes that shape human development, provides many potential points of intersection with educational practice. Yet too often researchers fail to make their work relevant to the everyday work of schools.

The broad goals of the initial meeting centers around the use of measures as a mechanism for helping move developmental science in schools and classrooms. CASTL is primed to lead this work after developing and validating observational measures like the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) and the Individualized Classroom Assessment Scoring System (inCLASS).

These measures draw from decades of research in developmental science, but provide actionable information for teachers and school administrators. For example, the CLASS, which assesses the effectiveness of teachers’ interactions with children, is being used in Head Start programs and preschool classrooms across the country as a part of efforts to ensure that young children have access to emotionally supportive and cognitively stimulating classroom settings.

Bridget Hamre“There are a few notable examples of measures from developmental science having a major impact on the everyday lives of teachers and students throughout the country – but we think there is more we can do.,” CASTL researcher and project lead Hamre said. “Our goal is to support the development and use of measures that reflect contemporary understandings of child and adolescent development in educational setting across the country.”

A newly awarded grant from the Society for Research in Child Development will fund this meeting as well as other outreach efforts, such as an online network fostering the exchange of information between researchers and school practitioners. This initial meeting will bring together national experts in areas such as early childhood education, adolescent motivation, and peer relationships.

A two-day conference is planned for June 2013. Primary organizers of this initiative, in addition to Hamre, include Jason Downer, CASTL research associate professor as well as Elise Cappella from New York University and Stephanie Jones from Harvard University.

by Lynn Bell & Leslie Booren