Davis & Krajcik (2005)

From MathEd.net Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Designing Educative Curriculum Materials to Promote Teacher Learning


Curriculum materials for Grades K–12 that are intended to promote teacher learning in addition to student learning have come to be called educative curriculum materials. How can K–12 curriculum materials be designed to best promote teacher learning? What might teacher learning with educative curriculum materials look like? The authors present a set of design heuristics for educative curriculum materials to further the principled design of these materials. They build from ideas about teacher learning and organize the heuristics around important parts of a teacher's knowledge base: subject matter knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge for topics, and pedagogical content knowledge for disciplinary practices. These heuristics provide a context for a theoretically oriented discussion of how features of educative curriculum materials may promote teacher learning, by serving as cognitive tools that are situated in teachers' practice. The authors explore challenges in the design of educative curriculum materials, such as the tension between providing guidance and choice.

Outline of Headings

  • Goals and Structure of the Article
  • Teacher Learning and Teacher Knowledge
  • The Design of Educative Curriculum Materials: Some High-Level Guidelines
  • Design Heuristics for Educative Curriculum Materials
    • Developing the Design Heuristics and the Issue of Generality
    • The Substance of a Design Heuristic
  • How Educative Curriculum Materials Promote Teacher Learning: An Example
  • Limitations of Educative Curriculum Materials
  • Tensions in Designing Educative Curriculum Materials
    • Tensions in Determining an Appropriate Amount of Guidance and Prescription
    • Tensions in Designing for Different Teachers
  • Alternative Structures for Delivering Curriculum Materials
  • What Next?


Educative curriculum materials refer to curriculum materials that support teacher learning as well as student learning. Davis and Krajcik credit both Ball & Cohen (1996) and Bruner (1960) for promoting the idea and present in this article suggestions for the design of such materials and how they might be used. Materials that are educative should help teachers make instructional decisions in both the short- and long-term and lead to a general teaching knowledge that can be applied flexibly across contexts. How teachers learn from educative materials involves the interactions between reader, text, and context (Rumelhart, 1994), how the text is structured (Armbruster & Anderson, 1985), persistence in using the materials, teacher knowledge and beliefs, and disposition towards reflective practice (Collopy, 2003; Remillard, 1999; Schneider & Krajcik, 2002). The interaction of these factors is complex (Lloyd, 1999) and shapes how the curriculum is ultimately enacted (Clandinin & Connelly, 1991). While professional development should also support teacher learning (Putnam & Borko, 2000), educative materials are positioned to support teachers' daily decisions in the real-world context of the classroom (Collopy, 2003). If successful, educative materials will not just promote teacher learning, but will ultimately lead to increased student learning.

Research Questions and Teacher Learning

Davis and Krajcik ask, "How can K-12 curriculum materials be designed to support teacher learning, and what might teacher learning with educative curriculum materials look like?" The design process should be iterative and reflective, with testing cycles and development cycles grounded in theory. Davis and Krajcik call their set of descriptors design heuristics instead of design principles to reflect the relative lack of empirical evidence research has yielded thus far.

Comparing teacher learning and knowledge to that of students, Davis and Krajcik claim that teachers' sense of agency over the learning, as well as their advanced development as learners, makes the study of teacher learning complex. Following their formal preparation, opportunities for teacher learning can be scattered and incoherent (Wilson & Berne, 1999). In addition to content and pedagogical knowledge, teachers also develop pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) that helps them effectively teach specific content (Shulman, 1986). Teachers need to integrate their knowledge in a coherent curriculum (Davis, 2004; Linn, Eylon, & Davis, 2004) and maintain a flexibility to respond to student ideas in discussions (Ball & Bass, 2000). This knowledge is situated in practice and distributed across artifacts like their curriculum materials (Putnam & Borko, 2000), making it difficult at times for teachers to apply theories of pedagogy and student learning to their practice (see Fenstermacher, 2004). Teacher learning is also both individual and social (Borko, 2004; Cobb, 1994), all of which, say Davis and Krajcik, make promoting teacher learning more complex than promoting student learning. Prior research suggests that focusing on PDK might be most effective (Collopy, 2003; Schneider & Krajcik, 2002), especially where theories of PDK have been developed in discipline-specific ways.

Guidelines and Heuristics for Educative Curriculum Materials

To frame their design heuristics in a broader context, Davis and Krajcik use the recommendations from Ball & Cohen (1996) to state these five guidelines for educative curricula (pp. 5-6):

  1. Materials could help teachers learn to anticipate and interpret student thinking or responses to instructional activities (Ball & Cohen, 1996; see also Collopy, 2003; Heaton, 2000; Remillard, 2000)
  2. Materials could support teachers' learning of subject matter (Ball & Cohen, 1996; see also Heaton, 2000; Schneider & Krajcik, 2002; Wang & Paine, 2003)
  3. Materials could help teachers consider ways to relate units during the year (Ball & Cohen, 1996; Wang & Paine, 2003)
  4. Materials could make visible the developers' pedagogical judgments (Ball & Cohen, 1996; see also Heaton, 2000; Petish, 2004; Remillard, 2000; Shkedi, 1998)
  5. Materials could promote a teachers' pedagogical design capacity, referring to the ability to use personal and curricular resources to achieve productive instructional ends (Brown & Edelson, 2003)

Regarding the final point, pedagogical design capacity is a characteristic that should help teachers from making a "lethal mutation" (Brown & Campione, 1996, p. 291) to their curriculum. This is important in light of the generally low quality of many curricular resources (Hubisz, 2003; Kesidou & Roseman, 2002) and teachers' need to make adaptations (Barab & Luehmann, 2003).

Davis and Krajcik build upon these five guidelines to describe nine design heuristics for educative curriculum materials in science. This is not intended to represent a full set and Davis and Krajcik encourage further development. The heuristics, found in the appendix, are outlined as follows:

  • Design Heuristics for PCK Science Topics
    • Design Heuristic 1 — Supporting Teachers in Engaging Students with Topic-Specific Scientific Phenomena
    • Design Heuristic 2 — Supporting Teachers in Using Scientific Instructional Representations
    • Design Heuristic 3 — Supporting Teachers in Anticipating, Understanding, and Dealing with Students' Ideas About Science
  • Design Heuristics for PCK for Science Inquiry
    • Design Heuristic 4 — Supporting Teachers in Engaging Students in Questions
    • Design Heuristic 5 — Supporting Teachers in Engaging Students With Collecting and Analyzing Data
    • Design Heuristic 6 — Supporting Teachers in Engaging Students in Designing Investigations
    • Design Heuristic 7 — Supporting Teachers in Engaging Students in Making Explanations Based on Evidence
    • Design Heuristic 8 — Supporting Teachers in Promoting Scientific Communication
  • Design Heuristic for Subject Matter Knowledge
    • Design Heuristic 9 — Supporting Teachers in the Development of Subject Matter Knowledge

Davis and Krajcik used both theoretical and inductive analyses in the development of the heuristics, focusing on the identification and grouping of challenges faced by science teachers (Davis & Krajcik, 2004). Design heuristics were developed for each group of challenges along with teaching strategies identified supported by research. While specific to science, Davis and Krajcik believe their framework for types of knowledge could be useful in other disciplines. Each individual design heuristic, when viewed in detail, has three parts: what materials should provide for teachers, how they help teachers understand recommended strategies, and how teachers could use them in their own practice.

Limitations and Tensions

The quality of educative curriculum materials are constrained by (a) the quality of the underlying content, (b) the characteristics of the teacher using the materials (Collopy, 2003; Remillard, 1999; Schneider & Krajcik, 2002), and (c) their limited influence as a single intervention within a larger system. Educative curriculum materials must be detailed enough to be helpful, but respect teachers' limited time, attention, and teaching in general as a learning profession (Darling-Hammond & Sykes, 1999). Considerations may need to be given to teachers with different needs, with novice teachers requiring more rationales and PCK support. Teachers may also need educative materials that they can use online (Davis, Smithey, Petish, 2004; Fishman, 2003) and may benefit from audio and video depictions of practice.

Despite difficulty in researching the connections between teacher learning, teacher practice, and student learning (Wilson & Berne, 1999) progress is being made (Fishman, Marx, Best, & Tal, 2003; Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, & Yoon, 2001; Rowan, Correnti, & Miller, 2002; Schneider & Krajcik, 2002). These heuristics should be tested empirically and we need a greater understanding of teachers curriculum support needs and wants.


Davis, E. A., & Krajcik, J. S. (2005). Designing educative curriculum materials to promote teacher learning. Educational Researcher, 34(3), 3–14. doi:10.3102/0013189X034003003
author = {Davis, Elizabeth A. and Krajcik, Joseph S.},
doi = {10.3102/0013189X034003003},
journal = {Educational Researcher},
number = {3},
pages = {3--14},
title = {{Designing educative curriculum materials to promote teacher learning}},
url = {http://edr.sagepub.com/content/34/3/3},
volume = {34},
year = {2005}