Educative Materials

In this project, we have created educative curriculum materials for teacher educators that are intended to provide them with support for developing elementary teachers’ CKT. Educative curriculum materials (ECM) are designed to help “increase teachers’ knowledge in specific instances of instructional decision making but also help them develop more general knowledge that they can apply flexibly in new situations” (Davis & Krajcik, 2005, p. 3).

The development of these materials, known as “CKT Packets” was a collaborative effort, and followed an empirically and theoretically grounded design process (Davis et al, 2014). The CKT packets were inspired in part by Page Keeley’s Uncovering Student Ideas series and the structure of the packets was adapted with the authors’ permission from a model used in mathematics education (Nabors, Oláh, Howell, Lai, & Delucia, 2018; 2020). Similar to the ‘mini-cases’ in mathematics education (Oláh, Howell, Lai, & DeLucia, 2018), each CKT Packet is built around a particular task (similar to Keeley’s probes). These tasks are flexibly designed for use in a variety of course contexts (e.g., content courses or methods courses) and professional development settings. Educative features of the CKT packets are intended to support teacher educators in engaging elementary teachers and teacher candidates in the task in ways that support the development of their CKT. Specific supports are provided to help teacher educators anticipate, elicit, and understand elementary teachers’ thinking in regard to the focus CKT learning goals.

In creating CKT Packets, our team utilized content-specific research studies, existing educative curriculum materials, resources for science teacher educators, and practitioner perspectives and literature to develop a theoretically and empirically based set of design principles.

Heuristic #1: Supporting Teacher Educators in Engaging Preservice Elementary Teachers in the Work of Teaching Science

Resource packets should provide teacher educators with productive experiences that make the work of teaching science visible to preservice teachers, and provide rationales for why this work is important. Instructional modules should help teacher educators adapt and use resources with their preservice teachers in pedagogically appropriate ways, for example by making explicit how specific science teaching practices correspond to different concepts and ideas and providing recommendations for how those might be introduced to preservice teachers in different contexts and courses. 

Heuristic #2: Supporting Teacher Educators in Anticipating, Understanding, and Addressing Preservice Elementary Teachers’ Ideas about Science and Science Teaching

Resource Packets should help teacher educators understand how preservice teachers develop CKT for science. Modules should support teacher educators in anticipating, eliciting, and interpreting preservice teachers’ ideas, and provide insight into how teachers educators might address those ideas in their teaching, for example by giving suggestions of assessment probes, discussion questions, and activities likely to confront preservice teachers’ initial thinking about teaching science in productive ways.

Heuristic #3: Support Teacher Educators in the Development of Preservice Teachers’ Content Knowledge

Resource Packets should provide teacher educators with tools for helping preservice teachers develop a deep conceptual understanding of science content as a foundation for building CKT.  Modules should help teacher educators support preservice teachers in assessing their own understanding, confronting gaps in their understanding or misconceptions, making connections across concepts, and understanding why strong content knowledge is important for teaching. Modules should emphasize key differences between the understanding required of preservice teachers and their students.

Educative Features

We used these design principles to generate potential eduative features of the materials and create prototype CKT packets. These underwent review by teacher educators and our Advisory Board, and were pilot-implemented and revised based on user feedback.

Educative Features Alignment to Design Principles
About the PacketDescribes key concepts aligned with the targeted content focus and work of teaching science emphasized in the task and module.
Identifies connections to the NGSS Performance Expectations, DCIs, SEPs, and/or CCCs as well as assessment boundaries and connections across elementary grades.
CKT Task and Elaborated Answer KeyProvides an elicitation task to assess preservice teachers’ CKT, including expected incorrect/correct responses and reasoning.
Suggested ImplementationProvides a suggested route for teacher educators to engage preservice teachers with the CKT tasks in ways that are consistent with their intended use.
Annotated Lesson PlanA detailed lesson plan is provided that includes rationales for suggested activities and teaching moves, expected student responses, and suggestions for modifications.
Content Reading Pages Provides information for preservice teachers about the science ideas elementary students are intended to develop, why these are important, their developmental appropriateness (e.g., introducing the small particle model rather than atoms in the elementary grades) and what they find difficult.
Additional ResourcesOptions for Going Further are included to allow instructors to flexibly adapt instruction to their students and context.
A list of Relevant Research is included to help teacher educators expand their own understanding of the CKT ideas represented in the packet.
Practitioner Articles are included that could address particular challenges and help preservice teachers deepen their CKT.
Web Resources provide supplemental or alternative options for exploring CKT with preservice teachers.

Subsequent research on the efficacy of these materials is planned, and materials will continue to refined as a result.


Davis, E. A., & Krajcik, J. S. (2005). Designing educative curriculum materials to promote teacher learning. Educational Researcher34(3), 3-14.

Davis, E., Palincsar, A. S., Arias, A. M., Bismack, A. S., Marulis, L., & Iwashyna, S. (2014). Designing educative curriculum materials: A theoretically and empirically driven process. Harvard Educational Review84(1), 24-52.

Nabors Oláh, L., Howell, H., Lai, Y., DeLucia, M., Kim, E. (2020). Mr. Lee’s Dilemma: An Instructional Mini-Case on Evaluating Student Approaches to Comparing Fractions. (ETS Research Memorandum Series). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

Oláh, L.N., Howell, H., Lai, Y., & DeLucia, M. (2018, February). Using mini-cases to support pre-service teachers’ Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching. Paper presented at the meeting of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), Houston, TX.