Understanding Teacher Change and Teachers as Learners in K-12 Classrooms (TAL)

There is an urgent need to know how teachers think and work within complex, ever-changing educational systems to process, evaluate, and adopt "evidence-based"  practices. There are numerous and ever growing lists of recommended evidence-based practices that teachers are encouraged to adopt, but there is little research on how teachers view, interpret, or work to improve their use of such practices.

The Teachers as Learners (TAL) program emphasizes a cognitive science perspective on teachers as learners – including a focus on the cognitive constraints that guide teacher thinking and change in attitudes, knowledge, skills and behaviors. We need to know what aspects of cognition (e.g., memory, knowledge, goals, expertise, collaboration) help explain teachers’ learning and change, particularly as it relates to adopting evidence-based practices in classroom contexts.

Understanding teachers as learners in the context of the many influences on teacher change across career trajectories is an important but understudied area of translational research with the opportunity for impact on both research and educational practice. Understanding teachers as learners from a cognitive science perspective would advance the implementation of policies aimed at evidence-based reforms.

The focus of this program is on studying the cognitive dimensions of teacher learning as it takes place within these rich socio-cultural and institutional contexts, rather than the contexts themselves.


Mitchell Nathan


Completed on April 30, 2021

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Mitchell Nathan