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Ohio University Researchers Getting $3.2 Million To Improve Teacher Training

Ohio University

Researchers at Ohio University will receive $3.2 million to study a new approach to professional development for teachers. The effort is meant to make teachers better equipped to meet the needs of students with emotional or behavioral issues.

Researcher Julie Owens says teachers face a lot of stress in the classroom, which can make it difficult to adequately respond to kids who need special attention.

“Teachers are saying, just in survey research across the country, that they would like more professional development and/or support so they can better meet the needs of students with diverse challenges,” Owens says.

A key piece of Ohio University's program is ongoing support to check up on how teachers are implementing what they’ve learned. Owens describes how that contrasts with typical development programs.

“You go to a workshop, you learn some strategies and you go back to your school,” she says. “And we know from years of education research that that type of training, although it improves teachers’ knowledge, it doesn’t changes practices very well.”

Owens and her co-researcher will recruit 165 elementary school teachers around Ohio at the outset, but she says they expect work with 300 over the course of the three-year study. Teachers in the study will participate in a series of consultations and receive access to online support.

Researchers will track how well different approaches work, as well as how the effort impacts students’ educational and behavioral outcomes.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.