Study of Instructional Improvement

The Research Team

The Study of Instructional Improvement (SII) was conducted under the auspices of the Consortium of of Policy Research in Education (CPRE), a group of higher education institutions that includes Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Wisconsin. SII was based at the University of Michigan’s School of Education and was led by Deborah Loewenberg Ball, David K. Cohen and Brian Rowan (SII Study Director).

Principal Investigators

Deborah Loewenberg Ball

Deborah Loewenberg Ball is the Dean of the School of Education, William Payne Collegiate Professor in Education at the University of Michigan. With elementary mathematics as the main context, her research has focused on the challenges of teaching for understanding and on efforts to support such teaching through policy, reform initiatives, and teacher education. Her publications include articles on teacher learning and teacher evaluation; the role of subject matter knowledge in teaching and learning to teach; challenges embedded in trying to teach for understanding; and relations of policy and practice in instructional reform.

David K. Cohen

David K. Cohen is the John Dewey Collegiate Professor of Education, and professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. In addition to his current work on educational policy and the relationships between policy and practice, his previous research includes studies on the effects of schooling; efforts to reform teaching; evaluations of educational experiments and large-scale intervention programs; and relations between research and policy.

Brian Rowan

Brian Rowan is the Burke A. Hinsdale Collegiate Professor in Education, a Research Professor at the Institute for Social Research, and (by courtesy) a Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan. A sociologist by training (Ph.D., Stanford University), Rowan’s research addresses the question of how schools can be organized to improve students’ academic achievement. Over the years, he has written about education as an institution, the organization and management of schools, the nature of teachers’ and school leaders’ work, and how schooling affects students’ academic achievement.

Senior Research Staff

Carol Barnes is an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan. She was Associate Director of Qualitative Studies for SII.  Barnes has been a policy advisor at state and federal levels of government as well as a university-based researcher. Her research interests include the macro and micro influences on school renewal in high poverty settings - especially the pedagogical aspects of policy or program implementation and the role of learning as a lever for complex change.

Sally Atkins-Burnett is now a senior researcher with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. and formerly an assistant professor at the University of Toledo. During the SII pilot stage, she worked on the development of instruments for the project. Her research interests include assessment in early childhood, social development, literacy instruction, and children with special needs.

Eric Camburn is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin.  He was Associate Director for Surveys for SII prior to moving to Wisconsin. Camburn’s work has focused on large-scale educational studies including NELS:88 and various Chicago-based studies of teachers, administrators and students. His research interests include the function of expertise in school improvement efforts, teacher learning in the workplace, and survey measurement techniques.

Ruben Carriedo was Associate Director of Outreach for SII from 1999-2004. A former teacher, assistant principal, and Assistant Superintendent for Planning and Evaluation, he worked on several leading research studies, including a study of high schools conducted by Ted Sizer and sponsored by NASSP, and a study of Catholic schools sponsored by NCEA.  Carriedo has served as a consultant to Ford, Spencer, and MacArthur foundations in the areas of school reform, student assessment, and evaluation.

Richard Correnti is currently an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests include the measurement and determinants of instruction (e.g., professional development), how educational innovations impact instruction, and how instruction affects student learning. His work on SII includes program evaluation of CSR design effects on instruction and, separately, on student achievement; and the causal pathway from instruction to achievement.

Karen Gates was a senior research specialist on the case studies of interventions component of the Study of Instructional Improvement. Her research centers on the work of external providers of models for instructional improvement in high-poverty elementary schools in the U.S.

Joshua Glazer is a researcher at the Rothschild Institute of Israel. His research interests include the design and implementation of large scale improvement efforts, the way in which instructional designs mediate knowledge demands of teaching, the development of professional systems of instruction, and the nature of educational professionalism.

Heather Hill is an associate professor of education at Harvard University.  Her research interests include the relationships between policy and instructional practice, and the effects of large-scale interventions designed to improve teachers' knowledge and instruction in mathematics.  Recent publications include, with David K. Cohen, Learning Policy: When State Education Reform Works (Yale Press). Her work with SII included developing measures of teacher knowledge and instruction in mathematics.

Christopher Johnson is currently an assistant professor at the University of Arizona. He holds a doctorate in applied statistics and education from the University of Michigan. His research interests lie in the creation of new methods of estimation to be applied in education research. On SII, his work focused on understanding the relationship between literacy instruction and reading comprehension and the extent to which this relationship could be understood in a causal framework.

Kristi Holmstrom is a research investigator at the University of Michigan. Her research areas of interest include studying instruction and exploring the effects that school organization, instructional guidance, and policies have on efforts to improve teaching and learning.

Diane Massell is a senior research specialist at the University of Michigan. For SII, she worked with the group conducting case studies of schools.  Her research centers broadly on the impacts of government education policies on school system and on schooling practices. She received her Ph.D. in Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford University.

Robert J. Miller is currently an associate research scientist with the Educational Leadership Research Center at Texas A&M University. He was Associate Director of Surveys for SII from 2004 through 2009. His main fields of interest are education policy, organization theory, and the analysis of school effectiveness.

Donald Peurach is currently an assistant professor at Michigan State University. His SII project focus was on the case studies of interventions. His research centers on the work of developing, supporting and organizing large-scale improvement efforts in the complex environments of U.S. public education.

Geoffrey Phelps is an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan. His research interests include the measurement of instruction and teacher knowledge, teacher development and teacher education, and the role of teacher content knowledge in the improvement of mathematics and reading instruction.

Research Consultants

Stephen Raudenbush is the Lewis-Sebring Distinguished Service Professor in the department of sociology at the University of Chicago. He previously held appointments at the University of Michigan with the School of Education, the Survey Research Center of the Institute for Social Research, and the departments of statistics and sociology. Dr. Raudenbush's research involves the development, testing, refinement and application of statistical methods for insuring individual change and studying the effects of social and longitudinal experiments. His book with Anthony S. Bryk, Hierarchical Linear Models: 2nd Edition (2002), provides an authoritative account of analytic methods for multilevel data analysis.

Stephen Schilling is an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan. His area of specialization is educational foundations and policy as well as research methodology and quantitative psychology.

Graduate Student Research Assistants

The graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) working on the Study of Instructional Improvement were active members of the SII professional community and maintained a close research mentorship with the project's principal investigators and senior research staff. In addition to pursuing their own independent research, the GSRAs made contributions in the production of SII published articles and reports, and they actively participated in paper presentations and symposiums at major research association meetings. The roster of SII graduate student research assistants has changed over the years as many graduated (earned doctorates) or moved on to other pursuits. The group has included: Douglas Corey (Ph.D), Danae De Los Rios (Ph.D.), Jenny DeMonte (Ph.D.), Simona Goldin, Delena Harrison, Andrew Hayes, Ji-Soo Kim, Beth Sanders, Seneca Rosenberg, James Taylor (Ph.D) and Charles Vanover (Ph.D.).

Support Staff

The Study of Instructional Improvement support staff anchored the project's day-to-day operations. As administrative assistants, Bonita Kothe, Katherine Mikesell, and Terri Ridenour performed a range of diverse administrative activities for the project. Jeanne Kuo served as the project's database manager and the supervisor of information technology (IT) support. Jennifer Smith was the project business manager. The research team appreciates the dedication and service of each of these support staff members, whose work contributed to the success of the project.

The Institute for Social Research

The Institute for Social Research (ISR) at the University of Michigan was the primary data collection agency for the survey component of SII.  ISR is the nation's longest standing, academically-based, survey research institute and has been a scientific leader in the scientific study of society for over 50 years.  The Study of Instructional Improvement and ISR formed a collegial partnership to undertake this ambitious and complex research program. Throughout the pilot Study and the main study, SII and ISR staff collaborated to develop the various survey instruments and interview protocols. ISR also was charged with the responsibility of coordinating and implementing data collection in the field, and processing the raw data for research use. In addition to the ISR project management team of Lesli Scott, Jenny Bandyk, Barb Homburg, Andrea Meyer-Scott, and Meredith House, SII also owes a debt of gratitude to all the school site coordinators who worked directly with the teachers, staff, and administrators at each of the participating school locations.