CASTL Launches Large-Scale Teacher Professional Development Study in Ecuador

Kathy Neesen

For several years now, the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) has been partnering with the Inter-American Development Bank to study how teachers and students across Ecuador are interacting in the classroom.  Led by Dr. Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch, Research Associate Professor at CASTL, studies so far have shed a light on how learning is taking place and where there are opportunities for improvement.


Now, LoCasale-Crouch and her research team are headed back to Ecuador in hopes of helping teachers improve their classroom interactions and strategies. In collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank, Teachstone, and the Ministry of Education in Ecuador, CASTL is kicking off a randomized trial to study the impact of a teacher professional development program called AMIA: Aprovechando al Máximo las Interacciones en el Aula (Making the Most of Classroom Interactions)


As lead investigator of the new study, LoCasale-Crouch is excited to see all the hard work and effort from the past few years come together in launching this large-scale study, “Over the past year, we’ve worked collaboratively with Latin American partners to develop and pilot a coaching program that can potentially help Ecuadorian teachers improve their practice in ways that really matter.”


The coaching program (AMIA) focuses on improving teacher-student interactions and combines the lessons learned from a decade of research on teacher professional development and teacher-child interactions in the United States. Adapted from the MyTeachingPartner (MTP) coaching program and a course called Making the Most of Classroom Interactions, AMIA has been designed so that it is culturally responsive and easy to implement in Ecuador. To do that, the research team had to make some changes while maintaining the core aspects of the intervention. “We worked closely with partners across the region and with the intervention developers to ensure we kept the key components of the MTP intervention that worked, while also making it culturally relevant and technically feasible to implement in a very different context.”


To kick off the study, LoCasale-Crouch and her team, including Dr. Carolina Melo and Fran Romo, both research associates at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, traveled to Ecuador to train 100 teachers who would participate in the year-long study. Study teachers will be compared to another 100 teachers randomly assigned to a control group, so the researchers can see if AMIA improves the quality of instruction in Ecuadorian elementary classrooms. The study will involve extensive study of teachers and their students, examining whether the program improves the quality of teacher-child interactions and children’s development. 


The program also has support from 10 in-country experts throughout Ecuador, who will work closely with the CASTL team to not only deliver the intervention throughout the year but also help build capacity in the country to continue this work after the initial study ends.


LoCasale-Crouch says the study is an exiting step forward to improving teacher-child interactions in a part of the world where resources are often limited, “The enthusiasm from the teachers so far has been incredible. They really want to make a difference in the lives of their students and for the first time they feel like they are getting professional development tools to help them do this. We are all excited to see where we go from here!”


The study will last at least two years and is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank.