David Stroupe to Receive AACTE Dissertation Award for Study of ‘Ambitious Practice’

AACTE has chosen David Stroupe, assistant professor of science education at Michigan State University, to receive the 2015 AACTE Outstanding Dissertation Award for his study "Students Drive Where I Go Next": Ambitious Practice, Beginning Teacher Learning, and Classroom Epistemic Communities. The award will be presented at the 67th AACTE Annual Meeting Speaker Spotlight Session, Sunday, March 1, at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

Stroupe completed his dissertation–which examines ambitious practice of novice science teachers–at the University of Washington under the advisement of Professor Mark Windschitl, whose letter of nomination illuminates the value of Stroupe’s work:
“David independently investigated two sets of questions that had been eluding us–and the field of teacher development–for years,” Windschitl writes. “The first phenomenon he studied was how epistemic communities are cultivated in classrooms by looking at the ways in which science ideas and students’ everyday ideas are ‘treated’ on the social plane of the classroom. [. . .] David was able to uncover how and why widespread participation in authentic science talk becomes exhilaratingly common in some classrooms and disappointingly rare in others.”

The second area Stroupe investigated was teacher learning, Windschitl says, and “David noticed that there were patterns around how his focal teachers created circumstances in their own classroom that allow them to learn something consequential to their practice, almost daily, from their students.”

AACTE’s Committee on Research and Dissemination faced the demanding task of selecting a winner from a large number of noteworthy submissions for this year’s award. After reading and debating the merits of the 40 entries, the committee narrowed the pool to six finalists and ultimately was unanimous in its selection of Stroupe’s work to receive the award.

Committee Chair Jorgelina Abbate-Vaughn (University of Massachusetts-Boston) said the reviewers commended the premise of Stroupe’s study as one in which “teachers’ work is guided by a repertoire of instructional practices that enable them to adapt and innovate pedagogical routines and tools to meet students’ emerging needs.” The study followed five participants for a full year, looking at how their pedagogical reasoning and critical discourses screened “their school’s instructional cultural scripts.” It concluded that “those supporting beginning teacher learning need to work across contexts, including schools during beginners’ first years of instruction,” as a means toward fostering ambitious practice within schools that enable its ongoing implementation, solidifying messages about how resources are to be used.

Committee members praised Stroupe’s compelling set of analyses for teacher learning as theorized and observed within a situative learning framework and the findings that illustrate how candidates learn to engage with instructional and conceptual tools and resources to further develop and sustain their content pedagogy.

“We are extremely proud that Professor David Stroupe has received the AACTE Outstanding Dissertation Award for 2015, the second year in a row that one of our faculty members has received this honor,” said Donald Heller, dean of the College of Education at Michigan State University. (Last year’s award went to Chezare Warren for a study about the role of teacher empathy in multicultural settings.) “David’s dissertation examining the professional practices and experiences of beginning science educators has made an important contribution to our understanding of how new teachers adjust to the challenges they face in today’s classrooms. We are very excited to have him continuing his research on science education as a member of the faculty in the College of Education at Michigan State University.”

For more information on Stroupe’s work, see this announcement from the University of Washington College of Education. For information on AACTE’s awards program, including lists of past winners, visit http://aacte.org/professional-development-and-events/awards.

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