Conferences and Workshops Organized by DRK-12 Projects

This Spotlight highlights the work of DRK-12 projects focused on organizing conferences or workshops to advance their work and the STEM education field.

In this Spotlight...

Featured Conferences & Workshops

Ambitious Science Teacher Preparation | June 4-7, 2018


Conference Goals: In science education, there is a growing consensus among teacher educators that, within and across preparation programs, there is no shared research-based vision of what accomplished instructional practice looks like, nor is there agreement about teacher education pedagogies that can effectively prepare novices to support the science learning of students from all backgrounds. One framework that has gained purchase amongst science teacher educators is Ambitious Science Teaching [AST] (Windschitl, Thompson, & Braaten, & Stroupe, 2012), originally developed at the University of Washington. As a number of science teacher educators have incorporated AST into their university methods courses and programs, it became necessary to get together to examine the shared affordances and drawbacks of the framework across settings. Thus, teacher educators from across the United States, joined by their doctoral students, met at Michigan State University for a four-day conference funded by the National Science Foundation. The conference was a critical first step in working towards both a coherent vision of science instruction and the building of a community of teacher educators that can collectively share and refine strategies, tools, and practices for preparing professionals to work with young science learners. Through this inaugural conference, we achieved two goals that will directly impact the preparation experiences of beginning science teachers across our institutions, and will shape national conversations about future science teacher preparation. The first goal was to develop a shared vision and language about effective pedagogy of science teacher preparation, focusing on: a) AST and b) practice-based approaches to science teacher preparation (Grossman & McDonald, 2008). The second goal was to initiate a professional community that can generate, test, revise, and disseminate a set of resources (curriculum materials, tools, videos, models of teacher educator pedagogies, etc.) to support teacher educators. We viewed this first meeting as the genesis of such a community, and will actively work to grow the membership of this group of teacher educators over time. 

Intended Audience: Science teacher educators from across the United States were invited to attend the conference, especially colleagues interested in practice-based science teacher education. 

Participants: Twenty-nine colleagues from 14 institutions from across the United States attended. These colleagues included 16 faculty/directors of research, and 13 graduate students. In addition, over 85 people from across Michigan attended the first day of the conference to learn more about Ambitious Science Teaching (AST).

Strategy for Knowledge Generation, Documenation, and Sharing: We captured ideas from all participants through a pre-conference survey about methods courses and through a shared drive to store syllabi and working papers. During the conference, we obtained permission from attendees to video record conversations, to take photographs of any artifacts produced during conversations, and to compile resources in the shared drive. After the conference ended, we presented a session at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) annual  meeting, and we published a book (co-edited by conference co-organizer and grant PI David Stroupe, and conference attendees Karen Hammerness and Scott McDonald) with Harvard Education press about practice-based science teacher preparation.

Conference Product(s): Agenda | Book: Preparing Science Teachers Through Practice-Based Teacher Education

Project Page: Building a Community of Science Teacher Educators to Prepare Novices for Ambitious Science Teaching (PI: David Stroupe | Co-PI: Amelia Gotwals)

Lesson Study in Mathematics and Science Teacher Education Conference | April 14-15, 2021


Conference goals: The primary goals of this project were to design and convene a working conference of mathematics and science teacher educators who use lesson study within their teacher preparation programs. Specifically, the goals were:

  1. Identify and document the conceptualization and implementation of lesson study models within MST education.
  2. Determine and document the factors that contributed to the successful utilization of lesson study in K-12 MST education and share strategies and tools for spreading its utilization.
  3. Determine and document the factors that constrained the implementation of lesson study in K-12 MST education and share strategies and tools for working within those constraints.
  4. Determine, understand, and document the practical implications of supporting and constraining factors for the use of lesson study in K-12 MST education for both teacher educators and future researchers. 

Intended audience: Teacher educators in Mathematics and Science education who applied.

Participants: Thirty-two teacher educators participated in addition to the organizing team.

Strategy for Knowledge Generation, Documenation, and Sharing: Given that the pandemic required our conference to meet virtually, we used multiple digital tools to share and generate ideas. These included Zoom, Google Docs, Slides, & Sheets, and Jamboard. Each conference session generated artifacts that were shared among attendees.

Conference Product(s): Agenda | An edited book proposal was submitted to Routledge for the WALS Lesson Study Series.

Project Page: Understanding the Role of Lesson Study in K-12 Mathematics and Science Teacher Education  (PI: Sharon Dotger)

Understanding the Role of Simulations in K-12 Science and Mathematics Teacher Education | February 19 - 21, 2019


Conference goals: The Simulations in Teacher Education conference was aimed toward building a research and development agenda for examining the role of simulations in K–12 science and mathematics teacher education. The conference was structured to provide opportunities for attendees to share their current research, theoretical models, conceptual views, and use cases focused on the design and use of simulations for building and assessing K–12 science and mathematics teachers’ competencies. 

The conference was organized around four major goals including:

  1. Defining how simulations (technologically mediated and face-to-face formats) are conceptualized, operationalized, and utilized in K–12 science and mathematics teacher education;
  2. Documenting and determining the challenges and affordances of the varied contexts, audiences, and purposes for which simulations are used in K–12 science and mathematics teacher education and the variety of investigation methods and research questions employed to investigate the use of simulations in these settings;
  3. Making explicit the theories of action and conceptual views undergirding the various simulation models being used in K–12 science and mathematics teacher education; and
  4. Determining implications of the current research and development work in this space and establishing an agenda for studying the use of simulations in K–12 science and mathematics teacher education.

Intended Audience: Initially, we recruited conference attendees by sharing our conference recruitment flyer with the listservs of different teacher education organizations (e.g., Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, National Association for Research in Science Teaching, etc.) and with those who submitted a letter of interest with the original grant proposal. We also reached out to our professional contacts who were currently involved in designing, using, and/or studying the use of technologically mediated or face-to-face simulations in mathematics and science teacher education. Each interested participant completed a short online survey to provide information about their background and work in the simulation space.

Participants: The Simulations in Teacher Education conference was facilitated by Educational Testing Service and the University of Central Florida in Louisville, Kentucky. The conference included a total of 38 attendees who worked across different types of organizations and varied in the kinds of simulations they developed and used to support teacher learning, the content areas they worked in, the teacher populations they worked with, and the roles they served. The 38 conference attendees included 20 university faculty members or lecturers (most within teacher education), five researchers who worked in research centers within universities, four research scientists and one policy maker who worked at non-profit organizations, two simulation specialists who served as the human-in-the-loop in technologically mediated simulations (one at a university and another at a for-profit company), five graduate students or postdoctoral researchers, and one teacher candidate. 

Strategy for Knowledge Generation, Documenation, and Sharing: We used a few strategies for knowledge sharing, generation, documentation, and dissemination. First, prior to the start of the working conference we had conference attendees complete two key activities.

  • For the first activity, each attendee (or team, if a group of participants were from the same project or organization) prepared a short paper providing an overview of their work in this area, including their current theory of action in designing, using, and/or studying the role of simulations in teacher education, and describing the key features of the simulation they are using, how the simulation is hypothesized to develop teachers’ competencies, and their current research or development in this area.
  • For the second activity, each attendee read about three to five of these short papers and responded to a set of structured questions noting similarities and differences in the theories of action being used to design and study the role of simulations in teacher education; where they see both converging and diverging lines of research and development; what they view as productive inquiry in this area; and what they note as current gaps and limitations in terms of understanding the role of simulations in K-12 science and mathematics teacher education.

Second, during the conference, we gathered electronic copies of the PowerPoint slides decks used during the keynote and plenary sessions, as well as copies of the posters shared where attendees reported out on different projects and their outcomes. Third, after the conference, we created a number of products to capture and disseminate the important learnings (see below).

Conference Product(s): 

  • A publicly available web page that provides access to the conference agenda, conference attendees’ short papers and synthesis papers, and PowerPoint slide decks from the conference’s keynote speaker and plenary presenters;
  • manuscript published in the Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education online journal, which shares outcomes from this working conference about the role of simulations in K-12 mathematics and science teacher education; and
  • A short video that was included in the 2019 STEM for All Video Showcase highlighting the conference activities and outcomes.

Project Page: Understanding the Role of Simulations in K-12 Science and Mathematics Teacher Education (PI: Jamie Mikeska | Co-PI: Lisa Dieker, Heather Howell, and Michael Hynes)

University of Delaware Virtual Conference for Beginning Researchers in Mathematics Education and Related Fields | August 11-13, 2021 


Conference goals: The purpose of the virtual conference was to provide a practical guide for conducting and communicating high-quality research in (mathematics) education. In this conference, we made explicit our orientation to the value and process of scientific inquiry. Pre-pandemic, we had planned an in-person conference to engage the broader field, including senior researchers, junior researchers, and teachers, to discuss and plan new kinds of research programs to directly influence the quality of teaching and learning mathematics in schools. This virtual conference took advantage of pandemic constraints to engage a larger group of beginning researchers in thinking more deeply about the process of research in education. We plan to build on this through the in-person conference once such meetings are again feasible in 2022. 

One insight we shared with participants was that continual learning is required to develop orientations and skills for conducting high-quality research. We intended for participants to recognize that, as beginning researchers, they are bound to experience frustrations and setbacks. These can be viewed as rich learning opportunities rather than discouraging signs of their abilities as researchers.           

We suggested to participants that, although we are mathematics educators and used examples from mathematics teaching and learning, the practical guidelines we recommended apply to most content areas and domains of educational research. There is nothing special about mathematics education with regard to the research process we discussed.

Intended Audience: Beginning researchers across the US were invited to this August 2021 virtual conference, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

Participants: Forty-one beginning researchers attended.

Strategy for Knowledge Generation, Documenation, and Sharing: The conference organizers were University of Delaware mathematics education faculty who participated in writing editorials for the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education from 2017-2020. The conference coincided with release of an initial draft of Doing Research: A New Researcher’s Guide, a research guide (inspired by the editorials) that will be published by Springer. The conference engaged beginning researchers with major ideas presented in the book, with each session following one of the main phases of scientific inquiry. Participants read the book before the conference so considerable time was devoted to discussing the key ideas and answering participants’ questions about conceptualizing research. Time was spent in small group discussions to afford additional opportunities to examine the big ideas and to form professional networks with new colleagues.

We are in the process of publishing the book as an open-access publication. In addition to the book, we plan to conduct a series of workshops on doing educational research.

Conference Product(s): We currently have a complete draft of the book that we circulated to conference participants for their review and feedback. The book is scheduled to be published in 2022 by Springer as an open-access publication. 

We also have evaluation results from the conference. On a post-conference survey, 94% of participants indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with the conference, over 80% indicated the conference was helpful to them in developing their understanding of scientific inquiry, theoretical frameworks, the process of formulating, revising, and testing hypotheses, and how to write research reports that communicate the significance of their research. In addition, 86% indicated that the conference helped them to network with other participants.

Project Page: Looking Back and Looking Forward: Increasing the Impact of Educational Research on Practice (PI: Jinfa Cai | Co-PIs: James Hiebert, Charles Hohensee, and Anne Morris | Project Coordinator: Stephen Hwang

Additional DRK-12 Projects Organizing Conferences or Workshops

Organized in order of year funded.





  • Critical Issues in Mathematics Education 2018
    This conference will continue the workshop series Critical Issues in Mathematics Education (CIME). The topic for CIME 2018 will be "Access to mathematics by opening doors for students currently excluded from mathematics". The CIME...


  • Building Capacity to Retain Underrepresented Students in STEM Fields
    This workshop provides minority serving institutions with an opportunity to engage in dialogue about effective ways to create, implement, and evaluate models of intervention that will advance knowledge about retaining underrepresented...
  • Critical Issues in Mathematics Education 2017
    This conference will continue the workshop series Critical Issues in Mathematics Education (CIME). The CIME workshops engage professional mathematicians, education researchers, teachers, and policy makers in discussions of issues critical...