Spotlight on BSCS: Digging into the STeLLA Program and the Research Behind it

November 8, 2016

Last Wednesday, BSCS hosted a virtual conversation with partners about their STeLLA program (STeLLA stands for Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis). Partners had the opportunity to dig into the details of program and how it works, and also gain insight into the research behind it and it’s efficacy.

What is STeLLA?

STeLLA is a one-year professional development program for K-12 science teachers featuring a videocase-based approach to lesson analysis. The ultimate goal of STeLLA is for science teachers to learn to analyze science teaching through two lenses: Student Thinking and Science Content Storyline. Below is the structure for what the program looks like for teachers over the course of the year:


During the summer, teachers analyze videocases, which show short clips of real-life classrooms enacting Student Thinking and Science Content Storyline strategies, and later in the year, teachers analyze their own clips and strategy enactment. Similarly, during the summer, teachers study model lesson plans demonstrating student thinking and science content storyline strategies, while during the year, teachers collaboratively design their own lessons.

The Research on STeLLA

To study STeLLA’s effectiveness, BSCS undertook a cluster-randomized control trial with 77 schools (and 144 4th and 5th grade teachers impacting roughly 2800 students). The STeLLA group was compared with a group of teachers who only experienced content deepening PD. The results of the study showed that STeLLA is effective for both teachers and students. Most importantly, STeLLA students are better able to model concepts and reason about science - particularly important in the NGSS era:


Looking forward: What’s next for STeLLA?

While STeLLA has been shown to be effective, BSCS is looking at ways through which they can make their program more sustainable and bring it to scale by having teacher leaders and experienced PD leaders facilitate the program for a wider range of teachers than BSCS is currently able to reach conducting the program themselves. Something else on their mind is how to situate the STeLLA year within a broader, deeper professional development experience. In one particular district they partner with in California, former STeLLA participants later become the program leaders the following year, which helps to build greater sustainability and depth within a district. One challenge they face with expanding that model is that their funding source from NSF currently does not support that model, and they are currently pursuing alternate streams which would allow them to use this model in more communities. Through some of their work in Minnesota, they’re also exploring putting some of the STeLLA program online to see if that’s a feasible way to move past these challenges.

Curious to hear more? Be sure to check out the recording and deck and reach out to Paul Numedahl,Senior Science Educator, and Chris Wilson, Senior Research Scientist.