New NSF grant for core teaching practices helps prepare student teachers

CMU's Kevin Cunningham, Julie Cunningham, and Douglas Lapp lead research on teachers building relationships with students and modeling course content

| Author: Hadlee Rinn | Media Contact: Kara Owens

A group of teacher educators from the College of Education and Human Services and College of Science and Engineering at CMU received a grant from the National Science Foundation to help college students become familiar with the core teaching practices, which are ideas or actions teachers follow to support learning. Additionally, the core teaching practices are demonstrated to have the greatest impact on student learning and were adopted by the Michigan Department of Education several years ago.  

Kevin Cunningham, Ph.D, the lead principal investigator on the project says, “We chose to focus on [the core practices of] building respectful relationships with students and modeling and explaining content. […] I would argue these are two of the more important teaching practices [because] if you're going to teach students and have them learn effectively, you need to have a good relationship with them. The ability to take what is challenging content and make that clear and intelligible to students [is important].” Although there are 19 core teaching practices, the two core practices of the grant are among the five the state of Michigan has chosen to focus on.  

Co-principal investigator, Julie Cunningham, Ph.D, says, “Without the grant, a lot of individuals have the ability to do the work. [However], the support of the grant allows us to move this forward in a significant and cohesive manner.” Although instructors were previously implementing the core teaching practices in their own classrooms, the grant allows for collaboration across different specialties.  

Douglas Lapp, Ph.D., a co-principal investigator, explains, “The Michigan test for teacher certification is [going through a major overall] and will focus on the [core teaching practices]. I was on the advisory board for the test development and what we’re doing will help prepare our preservice teachers to be successful.”

This story is brought to you by the  Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

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