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Online Professional Development Study

Thank you for your interest in our online elementary science Professional Development. Participation in this Boston University project, which promotes best practices for preparing elementary teachers to teach natural selection, will directly help school districts and teachers address new 2016 MA STE standards on natural selection and adaptations.


Details of the project. This research project explores the effectiveness of 3 different versions of a custom online PD on natural selection. Each version contains the same information and activities so all participating teachers can access the same amount and quality of training. In all cases, teachers will be prepared to teach new elementary science content standards on biological evolution. However, across the 3 versions, we vary the order in which teaching information and activities that assess teacher learning are presented. Teachers will be randomly assigned to one of the 3 versions; this will allow us to scientifically assess which components and order of presentation best support understanding of natural selection.


Who can participate? Anyone who currently teaches children in grades K-5 in the state of Massachusetts.


When can teachers participate? The deadline for participation is June 19th. Any K-5 teacher with access to a computer can participate as it suits his/her schedule.


What are the benefits to teachers? This PD will help teachers improve their own understanding of natural selection and develop skills to teach this concept to their students. We also provide access and links to additional educational resources (e.g. storybooks, activities) for understanding and teaching these concepts. Finally, teachers who complete the entire online course and submit a lesson plan on natural selection will receive 10 Professional Development Credits from Boston University. At this time, we are only able to provide PDP to Massachusetts teachers.


Are there any other benefits? Your participation will help identify best practices going forward for supporting teachers’ understanding and teaching of biological evolution. Results from this research will be used to design additional PD materials that will be made available at no cost to participating schools/districts.

What is involved? The online course for this PD project consists of 2 online modules which can be taken up to a week apart. Each module requires approximately 60-90 minutes. In total, the PD modules may take approximately 3-4 hours. The modules include instructional videos, demographic questionnaires, an orientation to optional resources for use in teaching biological evolution, and activities to track teachers’ knowledge of natural selection as well as their knowledge of student misunderstandings about natural selection. Teachers will also create a lesson plan focused on teaching natural selection. In total, participation may take up to 10 hours and teachers will receive 10 PDP from Boston University.

Next steps? If you are interested in participating and receiving PDP credits, please click on the button below to begin the first module. (If the button does not work, please copy and paste this link in your address bar: ). After you complete the first module, our team will send you the link to the second module.


If you would like to reach us, please contact Project Director, Dr. Sarah Brown at 617.358.1738 or Thank you for your interest!

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