Results


Progress Report Contents | Brochures and Reports

Contents of section:


Consistency of Response

There was remarkable consistency among the questionnaire responses, from different groups of individuals (e.g., Fellows and non-Fellows) and from groups whose responses were solicited over as many as seven years. We examined responses from sever al different groups of individuals. We were initially interested in learning whether and to what extent teachers who become Fellows are different from their colleagues who do not. It soon became clear from their questionnaire responses that Fellows were quite similar to their peers in the New Haven system not only with respect to demographic characteristics and academic preparation but in their responses to other questions as well. We were also interested in comparing Fellows who take part in the Inst itute science seminars with those who participate in seminars in the humanities. Apart from differences in the subjects they teach and the teaching methods they use, the two groups responded to the questionnaires in highly similar ways.

For most of the Institute’s history, elementary school teachers have not been invited to participate in the program. However, following a pilot program that demonstrated the benefits to them of participation in the Institute, elementary school t eachers were included for the first time in 1990. We were, therefore, interested in knowing whether and how their responses might differ from those of teachers who work with older students. Again, we found no substantial difference in the reactions of t hese two groups to the questionnaires. Finally, we sought to contrast the experiences of first-time and returning Fellows and found little in their questionnaire responses to distinguish the two.

For these reasons, the responses are often aggregated in the accounts that follow, across groups of respondents and across years in which the same questionnaires were administered. Occasionally, only the results from the most recent survey are c ited. To underscore the consistency of response, ranges are often provided when data from five years of Fellows’ surveys are presented.

to the top of Results

Fellows’ Written Responses

As has been noted, the Institute has, from the beginning, asked participating Fellows each year to describe their experience with the program in their own words. These written responses provided Institute staff with feedback about the program an d were used in part to suggest refinements to program elements and procedures. Since 1986, we have administered a program evaluation survey to Fellows made up mainly of multiple-choice questions. However, because Fellows' statements about the program in earlier years provided such rich documentation of their experience in the Institute, we have retained three open-ended questions. These concern Fellows' experiences in their seminars, the effect they expect their curriculum units and their Institute par ticipation will have on their teaching, and their evaluations of the strengths and weaknesses of the program overall. Over the years, distinct themes have emerged in the responses of Fellows to their Institute experiences. In fact, these themes have bee n used to structure our annual reports, in order to represent the program as its participants see it. The annual reports have also drawn heavily on Fellows' comments to illustrate features of the program and its outcomes. Similarly, we have drawn typica l quotations derived from the aggregate responses to multiple-choice questions that are reported in the pages that follow. However, it is also valuable to consider the major themes that have emerged from the written responses, and to describe how these h ave changed over time.

Fellows have always commented on their individual meetings with seminar leaders, two of which are required for each Fellow during the course of the seminar, and on their work together as a whole. They have tended to focus strongly on the teachin g, scholarship and accessibility of the seminar leaders in describing what is most important to them about their Institute experience. It has also been useful to make a distinction between general comments on the seminar leader and comments on the enviro nment of collegiality he or she fostered in the classroom, because Fellows have seemed to place a special emphasis on the mutual respect that characterizes this relationship. A section on collegiality among Fellows was also added to reports beginning in 1985 in order to accommodate comments on how teachers from different schools benefitted from their common consideration of the seminar topics and the units that each of them wrote.

Fellows’ opinions on the Institute’s schedule and the unit writing guidelines have been important in determining how procedures and deadlines can best be integrated with the other professional and personal demands on the participants’ lives. A s ection of comments on these topics—including Fellows’ reactions to how the unit writing process shaped their final product and affected their ideas about writing and curriculum design—has accordingly always been a theme in the evaluations Fellows write. Fellows frequently mention that they have tested their units-in-progress in their own classrooms, leading us to assemble this testimony, as we have with their assessments of the talks conducted at the beginning of each Institute session. We have also col lected comments concerning the balance the seminars strike between study of their topic and work on Fellows’ individual curriculum units. Giving each sufficient time and attention is essential to fulfilling the Institute’s goals, and Fellows have recogni zed this in their responses.

Fellows are asked each year to anticipate the effect their unit will have on their teaching. They have tended to focus their responses in two different areas: the unit’s bearing on their teaching style and classroom situation, and the anticipate d response of their students. The latter—emphasizing as it does the ultimate and most important result of the Institute’s work—has been significant in assessing the success of the program. In 1987, we added a section of the report to present Fellows’ mo re frequent comments on how their unit, and their Institute experience as a whole, has influenced their professional lives.

Early reports grouped comments on professional morale, confidence as teachers, and intellectual stimulation together. It has since proved clarifying to separate these three, assessing the responses in each category. As an indicator of the way r esponses vary from year to year, however, in 1990 it was difficult to separate teachers’ comments about confidence and professional morale: the concepts seemed more closely linked than they had the previous year. In the 1990 report, therefore, we merged the two categories to reflect this.

The Fellows’ reaction to coming to Yale has always been strongly positive, and comments reflecting their attitude towards the University have been collected since the first reports. What Fellows learned in their fields—the academic preparation t hey received in their Institute seminars—has also long been a concern both of participants and of the Institute staff in analyzing their responses: Fellows frequently describe the academic benefits of participation in their comments, and sometimes make il luminating comparisons to other professional development activities they have undertaken.

It has also been important to identify the responses of particular subgroups of Fellows and the special concerns they have had. Even early reports collect the comments of first-time Fellows and of veterans on the perspectives resulting from thei r different amounts of participation. In 1990, we also assembled some of the responses of elementary school teachers who were enjoying their first year of full participation in the Institute: their enthusiasm and perception of the benefit they derived we re at least as strong as for Fellows in middle and high school.

Certain themes that were prominent in the responses of Fellows early in the Institute’s history have receded or disappeared in more recent years. For example, many early Fellows singled out their feelings of “isolation” in their schools and high lighted the ways in which the Institute provided an otherwise unavailable collegial working relationship with other teachers. As the statistical report which follows indicates, many teachers still complain of this isolation; in recent years, however, man y fewer Fellows have mentioned this problem in their written evaluations.

Finally, to accommodate the wide range of responses which bear on the Institute in ways more comprehensive than these categories would admit, we have maintained a section in reports on reactions both to the seminar in general and to the Institut e as a whole. Some of the most striking and poignant comments Fellows have made over the years have come when they have summed up their reaction to the program, and these sections are perhaps the most powerful testimony to the experience of Fellows at th e Teachers Institute. In fact, even in the earliest evaluations, when Fellows were asked to rate the Institute and its component features, they often evaluated the program overall more positively than many of its particular parts.

The ongoing development of these categories in our content analysis of Fellows’ written responses has been influenced in different ways. Returning Fellows, completing a survey they have seen before, may offer more detailed and sophisticated comm ents, which suggest new categories in our annual reports. The differentiation of confidence, professional morale, and intellectual stimulation provides an example of distinctions we have increasingly been able to make. Probably more important, however, Fellows are attentive to proposals which are widely discussed in one year or another as being important measures for improving public schools. So, for example, in recent years teachers have put their Institute experience more in terms of “empowerment” an d “professionalism.” As another example, in 1990 so many Fellows commented on the multi-cultural perspectives provided in Institute seminars on different subjects that a section was set aside to highlight their views on this topic.

Although it is not possible to present all of the data from all of the subgroups of respondents, the statistical report that follows is organized according to many of the themes just discussed. This report focuses on five broad topics: the char acteristics of Fellows (and, for comparison, their colleagues who did not serve as Fellows); respondents' perceptions of the condition of teaching and of themselves as teachers; Fellows' reflections on their Institute experiences; the curriculum units; an d Fellows' reports of student reactions to the curriculum units. A final section of the report discusses the retention of teachers in the New Haven system and the role of the Institute in retaining teachers in the profession and in New Haven. In order t o emphasize the continuity of Fellows’ written responses to open-ended questions with these data from the surveys, we have often included in the outside margin of each page representative comments on the topic being addressed at that point in the report. This illustrates how the two methods of evaluation reinforce each other, and allows Fellows to flesh out in their own words some of the points that they make collectively by their responses to the multiple-choice questions on the surveys.

to the top of Fellows’ Written Responses | to the top of Results

Responses to Multiple-Choice Questions

Most of the results that follow are expressed as ranges based on the questionnaire responses over five years. Simply put, this means that the statistics reported are the highest and lowest percentages of Fellows who gave a particular response du ring the period between 1986 and 1990. Occasionally, we report only the responses from the 1990 questionnaires, usually because the range over five years was quite narrow.

Some responses are for Fellows only, that is teachers who completed at least one Institute program prior to the 1982 and 1987 system-wide surveys, or teachers who completed an Institute program between 1986 and 1990. Information about non-Fellow s, when it is reported, comes from the 1987 system-wide survey or, if the question of interest was included in both the 1982 and 1987 system-wide surveys, from both surveys. A non-Fellows is a teacher who, although eligible to participate, had not partic ipated in the Institute at the time of one or both of the system-wide surveys. This means, for 1982 and 1987 at least, teachers in middle and high schools of subjects included in the Institute. (Non-Fellows may have participated in an Institute seminar at a later time.)

to the top of Results

I. Characteristics of Fellows and Non-Fellows

It is of interest to describe the individuals who choose to participate in the Institute and to compare them with their peers in the New Haven Public School System who do not participate. It is often suggested by critics of programs such as the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute that their successes may be attributed to a process of self-selection by participants. This argument implies that the teachers who take part in programs such as the Institute are a better-prepared and more highly-motivat ed group than the teachers who opt not to participate. The validity of the argument depends upon the existence of observed differences between the two groups. This section of the report, therefore, describes Institute Fellows and compares them with non- Fellows in 1982 and 1987.

to the top of Results

Demographic Characteristics

The New Haven Public School teachers who participate in the Institute are a diverse group, and their diversity reflects that of their colleagues throughout the city. In 1990, there were four Fellows in their twenties and three in their sixties, bu t most (59 percent) were between the ages of forty and forty-nine. They have, on average, fifteen years of full-time teaching experience, and twelve years of full-time experience in the New Haven Public Schools. Responses of non-Fellows showed them to b e remarkably similar: they had taught full-time for an average of fifteen years, twelve and a half of which were spent in the New Haven schools; their average age was forty-two.

The Institute’s ongoing study of Fellows who have remained in teaching in New Haven has shown that Fellows are racially and ethnically similar to their colleagues as well, as Table 1—which includes participants through the 1990 session—indicates. In 1990, elementary school teachers participated in the Institute for the first time. Thus, elementary school teachers are included in the 1990 results, but their numbers are quite small.

Table 1
Race and Ethnicity of Institute Fellows Compared
to All New Haven Public School Teachers

Percent White
non-Hispanic
Percent Black
non-Hispanic
Percent
Hispanic
Percent
Other
Institute Fellows
67.2%
27.4%
5.4%
0.0%
All New Haven Public
Schools Teachers (1990)
67.8%
24.6%
6.7%
0.9%
Source: 1990 Annual Report of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

Because of the importance of attracting, retaining, and developing minority teachers, we cite in particular the fact that the percentage of Black and Hispanic teachers who have completed the Institute closely reflects the proportion of Black and Hispanic teachers in the New Haven Public Schools.

The 1987 system-wide survey revealed minor (and statistically insignificant) differences between Fellows and non-Fellows in the educational background of their families. Thirty percent of all Fellows came from a family in which the father had a college degree, as compared to one quarter (25 percent) of non-Fellows. The fathers in Fellows’ families worked at many of the same jobs—as farmers or clerical workers—in the same proportions, though 35 percent of non-Fellows’ fathers were skilled or sem i-skilled workers and 27 percent were professionals, and the proportion was reversed for Fellows’ fathers: 26 percent were skilled or semi-skilled workers, and 35 percent were professionals. With respect to the education of mothers, one quarter (25 perce nt) of Fellows’ mothers held college degrees as opposed to 19 percent of non-Fellows’ mothers. These figures are additional evidence of the substantial similarities between the two groups, the more so because the slight differences noted above are the la rgest observed in any of the demographic questions on the survey.

Sixty-four percent of Fellows and two–thirds (66 percent) of non-Fellows surveyed in 1987 reported that they had children. The children of non-Fellows tended to be younger on average: more than a quarter (26 percent) had children who were five y ears old or less, which was true of only 13 percent of Fellows. Participation in the Institute demands a substantial commitment of time and energy, and it seems reasonable to attribute this difference to teachers’ reluctance to take on extra work while c aring for very young children.

to the top of Demographic Characteristics | to the top of Results

Academic Preparation

Responses to survey questions about academic preparation revealed few differences between Fellows and non-Fellows. Table 2 displays all of the undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates earned by all of the teachers who completed our su rveys in all of the years of their distribution.

Table 2
All Degrees and Certificates Earned by Fellows and Non-Fellows

Percent of Fellows Percent of
Non-Fellows
1982* 1986 1987 1987* 1988 1989 1990 1982* 1987*
Bachelors
99
100
100
96
98
98
99
98
99
Masters
77
72
70
47
57
65
74
67
61
Fifth year
10
4
4
4
0
2
3
4
3
Sixth year
23
24
20
30
27
22
20
20
19
Ph.D.
1
2
2
0
0
3
1
2
1
*System-wide survey
Source: System-wide surveys of Fellows and non-Fellows in 1982 and 1987 and annual surveys of Fellows between 1986 and 1990.

In terms of their formal preparation, then, Fellows and non-Fellows had earned degrees of the same level and type. As Table 2 shows, almost all teachers in every year, Fellows or non-Fellows, held Bachelors Degrees, and similar proportions of no n-Fellows and Fellows—67 and 61 percent compared with between 57 and 77 percent over five years—had earned Masters Degrees of some sort. The statistics for fifth and sixth year certificates and Ph.D. degrees are similarly consistent.

The most common undergraduate major among Fellows was education: in 1990, more than a third (36 percent) held degrees in education, and in no year were fewer than 20 percent of Fellows education majors. Between 17 and 28 percent over the last fi ve years had received B.A.’s in English or literature, making it the next most common undergraduate major. History, biology and math have been the next most common undergraduate majors.

With respect to the distribution of subjects studied by Fellows who continued their education beyond the baccalaureate, education was by far the most frequent graduate major: no fewer than 34 percent of Fellows reported it in any year that the su rvey was conducted; 48 percent of the Fellows in 1987 reported education majors, the highest percentage reported. Other Fellows studied subjects in which they may have majored as undergraduates. In 1990, for example, 9 percent of Fellows had majored in earth science, 6 percent in each of history, general science, and biology, 4 percent in mathematics, and 3 percent in English or literature. As was the case with undergraduate degrees, the distribution of graduate majors reported by Fellows was similar t o the distribution reported by all teachers in the New Haven Public Schools (who completed the surveys in 1982 and 1987).


“Probably the greatest strength for me was the academic stimulation. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day mechanical necessities of teaching while neglecting your own academic growth. It is important to have an opportun ity to balance out the picture.”
—Institute Fellow, 1989









to the top of Academic Preparation | to the top of Results

Subjects Taught

The distribution of academic majors reported by Fellows is also consistent with the distribution of subjects taught in the New Haven Public Schools. For example, relatively large numbers of English majors participate in the Institute, reflecting a relatively high number of English teachers in the city at large. Table 3 shows the sizes of six academic departments in middle and high schools in New Haven, in terms of the numbers of teachers they include. The six departments represented reflect th e principal subjects addressed by the Institute.

Table 3
Number of Teachers in New Haven Public Middle and High Schools
in the Principal Subjects the Institute Addresses

1987 1988 1989 1990
English:
83
85
86
81
History:
72
70
74
67
Foreign Language:
44
42
44
46
Arts:
39
39
32
26
Math:
69
70
70
67
Science:
67
66
70
68
Source: Annual reports by Institute Representatives for each school.

The surveys also revealed discrepancies between the academic majors of teachers in the New Haven Public Schools and the subjects the teachers are assigned to teach. These discrepancies were reported by Fellows and non-Fellows alike. While most teachers reported having received some preparation related to the subjects they were teaching at the time of the survey, many were teaching in areas in which their academic preparation was lacking. Figures 1A and 1B show the relationship between their ac ademic majors and teaching assignments as reported by teachers in the humanities and sciences. The figures show that twenty-one percent of humanities teachers and almost a third of teachers in the sciences did not major as undergraduate or graduate stud ents in any of the subjects they were teaching at the time they completed our questionnaire. Those teachers who become Fellows of the Institute differ in this respect not at all from their colleagues who have not yet participated.

Figure 1A: Undergraduate and graduate preparation of Fellows and Non-Fellows in the humanities in the subjects they teach

Figure available in print form.

Figure 1B: Undergraduate and graduate preparation of Fellows and Non-Fellows in the sciences in the subjects they teach

Figure available in print form.

Although the responses of Fellows and non-Fellows reveal that the two groups experienced similar discrepancies between their academic preparation and teaching assignments, they also underscore an important contribution of the Institute. Through their participation in subject-matter seminars and the creation of curriculum units related to their teaching assignments, Institute Fellows are able to strengthen their academic background in areas that were not included or emphasized in their undergradu ate or graduate preparation.


“My participation in the seminar has been tremendously helpful in my preparation for the coming school year. I was able to prepare a year-long unit for one of my classes. In doing so, I read extensively on a topic in which I h ave had a long-standing interest. The time I spent writing and researching and discussing my unit has enabled me to become quite knowledgeable and as a result more confident in presenting my unit.”
—Institute Fellow, 1990

“I enjoyed the reading that we did. I participate in the Institute because I do not have a degree in English and need to broaden my background. I have certainly done this through our seminar readings and the r eading I did for my paper.”
—Institute Fellow, 1988

“Even though I had a good background in history and in the social sciences, I found that there was so much historical information that I had forgotten and that what I remembered was, in many ways, superficial. Rethinking, retrieving, re-interpretation as well as acquiring new knowledge was so healthy.”
—Institute Fellow, 1989
to the top of Subjects Taught | to the top of Results

II. Fellows’ and Non-Fellows’ Perceptions of the Teaching Profession

The surveys included a number of questions that asked for respondents' perceptions of selected aspects of the teaching profession and their own relation to it. Fellows and non-Fellows were asked to reflect on the recommendations for reform of th e teaching profession that surfaced during the early 1980s, and to respond to questions about their own professionalism and professional experiences. This section describes the reactions to such questions. Although a later section will focus on Fellows' responses to particular features of their Institute experience, this section includes responses to questions about the Institute that are directly related to proposals for educational reform and to issues of professionalism.

to the top of Results

Opinions on Issues of School Reform

The questions on school reform were derived from a review of major studies and reports on education issued between 1982 and 1986. These questions were included in the Fellows' annual questionnaires starting in 1986 and in the system-wide survey conducted in 1987. Responses of Fellows to the questions were quite uniform. Their responses are therefore represented here by the results from the 1990 survey although, for some questions, tables showing the results from all six years are provided to d emonstrate and underscore the consistency of response.

Several of the proposals about which the surveys ask concern the lives of students directly. Fellows were generally skeptical about increasing the amount of time that students spend in the classroom. Only one quarter (25 percent) in 1990 thoug ht that a longer school day would improve education, and 26 percent had the same expectation for a longer school year. But an almost equal number—20 and 21 percent respectively—thought that these measures would make matters worse, and non-Fellows were ev en less optimistic: no more than 13 percent thought that either would improve education, and 42 and 34 percent respectively thought they would have a negative impact. Both groups were more optimistic about setting higher standards for students. Three qu arters (76 percent) of Fellows thought that higher requirements for high school graduation would improve education, and half (52 percent) thought that higher college admissions standards would do the same. Non-Fellows’ responses followed the same pattern , and no more than 9 percent in either group thought that either measure would make matters worse.

Fellows favored holding themselves and their colleagues to higher standards as well. Over two thirds (69 percent) thought that higher initial certification standards would improve education, as did 53 percent of non-Fellows. Enthusiasm for high er standards within the teaching profession was greater still: 85 percent of Fellows and 75 percent of non-Fellows endorsed this measure, while no Fellows—and only 2 percent of non-Fellows—predicted that it would have a negative impact. Fifty-eight perce nt of Fellows thought that the creation of a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to establish high standards and certify teachers would improve education, as did 57 percent of non-Fellows; 77 and 67 percent respectively thought the same of the proposal to free teachers to decide how best to meet state and local goals for children while holding them accountable for student progress. Fellows and non-Fellows alike were less enthusiastic about relating incentives for teachers to school-wide st udent performance: 37 percent in both groups thought this would improve education, but of Fellows, 21 percent thought it would make matters worse and another 21 percent said they did not know. Non-Fellows expressed their reservations or uncertainty in al most identical proportions.

to the top of Results

Teacher Professionalism

Proposals to enhance professionalism in schools were among the most widely endorsed by Fellows, who demonstrated considerable optimism about the prospect of restructuring schools to provide a more professional environment for teachers, as well as making teachers’ salaries competitive with those of other professions. Figure 2 shows their responses in detail.

Figure 2A: Percentage of Fellows who think that making teachers' salaries and career opportunities competitive with those of other professions will improve education

Figure available in print form.

Figure 2B: Percentage of Fellows who think that restructuring schools to provide a professional environment for teachers would improve education

Figure available in print form.

Seventy percent of Fellows and 53 percent of non-Fellows indicated that restructuring the teaching force by introducing a new category of “lead teachers” with the proven ability to provide active leadership in the redesign of schools would improv e education. Fewer than half of each group, however, thought that significantly higher pay for teachers in positions of greater responsibility would improve education.

As has already been noted, most Fellows thought that higher initial certification requirements for teachers would improve education. Relatively few thought that such requirements would “greatly improve” education and Fellows were more uniformly positive about higher standards within the teaching profession.

As also mentioned above, the creation of a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to establish high standards and to certify teachers drew support from more than half of Fellows and non-Fellows, in each year, though no more than 29 pe rcent in any year saw great improvement resulting from such a move. In no year, however, did fewer than 91 percent of teachers say that making teachers’ salaries and career opportunities competitive with those in other professions would improve education , and between 54 and 80 percent envisioned a great improvement in result. When asked to express their opinion on restructuring schools to provide a more professional environment for teachers, Fellows’ support was nearly unanimous, running from a low (in 1989 and 1990) of 90 percent to a high (in 1987) of 98 percent. As many as 74 percent and no fewer than 60 percent in any year thought that such an environment would greatly improve education. Eighty-eight percent of non-Fellows saw the potential for im provement in this measure; 45 percent said it would greatly improve education.


“I liked being treated as if I mattered—the comfortable chairs, the coffee—and the chance to talk to other teachers. Teachers will act like professionals when treated like professionals.”
—Institute Fellow, 1989
to the top of Teacher Professionalism | to the top of Results

Academic Preparation

Fellows and non-Fellows alike demonstrated their expectations for the benefits of greater academic preparation in their responses to survey questions on issues of school reform. Table 4 illustrates Fellows’ responses. Well over half of all Fell ows—no fewer than 61 percent in any given year, and no more than 78 percent—agreed that the requirement of a bachelor’s degree in the arts and sciences as a prerequisite for the professional study of teaching would improve public education. Fellows showe d even greater enthusiasm for the benefits of developing a new professional curriculum in graduate schools of education leading to a masters degree in teaching, with 84 percent supporting the idea in 1988, and no fewer than three quarters (75 percent) end orsing it in any other year. In the most positive response on the issue of academic preparation, however, Fellows especially thought that greater emphasis on the preparation of teachers in the academic subjects they teach would improve education. No few er than 91 percent in any given year agreed with this, and as many as 53 percent (in 1990) said that such an emphasis would “greatly improve” education. Eighty-five percent of non-Fellows also saw in this measure the potential for improvement in schools. Neither Fellows nor non-Fellows, however, tended to favor the elimination of education as an undergraduate major: fewer than half of all Fellows supported the proposal (no more than 49 percent and no fewer than 29 percent in any given year), and as many as 39 percent (in 1988) said that it would make matters worse. Non-Fellows were even more skeptical, with only 27 percent seeing promise in such a policy.

Table 4
Fellows' Reactions to Proposals for Improving Public Education through
Enhancement of Academic Preparation for Teachers

Percent who think the proposal...
will
greatly
improve
education
will
improve
education
won't
change
things
will
make
matters
worse
don't
know
Requirement of a Bachelor’s degree in the arts and
sciences for the professional study of teaching
34
27
26
3
10
Development of a new professional curriculum in graduate
schools leading to a masters degree in teaching
27
50
14
3
6
Greater emphasis on the preparation of teachers in the
academic subjects they teach
53
39
7
0
1
Source: Fellows' Questionnaire, 1990

Fellows have strong opinions about the impact of the Teachers Institute on their preparedness to teach. Ninety-seven percent or more of all Fellows in any given year agreed that the seminar had improved their knowledge of its subject matter; in four of those years, agreement was universal, and between 89 and 96 percent—including 100 percent of new Fellows in 1990—said their understanding had improved “a lot.” Similarly, no fewer than 94 percent responded that they had gained knowledge of their subject and confidence in their ability to teach it; as many as 51 percent (in 1989) “strongly agreed” with this statement. Forty-eight percent of all former Fellows who completed the 1987 system-wide survey agreed that their experience with the Institut e had been more relevant to their teaching than their experience in teacher preparation classes, and over half (56 percent) found the experience more relevant than other professional development programs; no more than 15 percent disagreed with either stat ement. In the same year, 72 percent responded that they were better prepared as a resource for their students as a result of their Institute participation, and 69 percent agreed that they had come away with new techniques for teaching their students.


"This year’s seminar had a great impact upon me by affording me an opportunity to greatly increase my knowledge of the subject of poetry—a subject I teach each year I’m in the classroom.”
—Institute Fellow, 1985
















"I gained a tremendous amount of new understanding about crystals and semiconductors—something I firmly believe I would not have done without good guidance and encouragement.”
—Institute Fellow, 1989
to the top of Academic Preparation | to the top of Results

Professional Growth

The 1987 system-wide survey asked Fellows and non-Fellows to list the professional growth activities they had participated in over the last three years. Table 5 shows what they reported.

Table 5
Participation in Professional Growth Activities Reported by Fellows and Non-Fellows
Between 1984 and 1987

Percent of
Fellows
Percent of
Non-Fellows
System-sponsored summer workshops
51
33
Work on curriculum committee
53
37
Committee work other than on curriculum
40
33
College courses not in education during the school year
29
18
Professional growth activities sponsored by professional associations
45
27
College courses in education during the school year
26
26
Sabbatical leave: travel
23
17
College courses in education during the summer
18
17
College courses not in education during the summer
17
12
Sabbatical leave: other
8
4
Full-time college
7
3

Institute Fellows reported greater participation than their peers in the New Haven Public Schools in certain categories of professional growth activities: summer workshops, curriculum and other committees, some types of college courses, and prof essional growth activities sponsored by professional associations. Given that one of the few observed differences between Fellows and non-Fellows was the age of their children (Fellows' children were older, on average), it would appear that non-Fellows m ay have less time than Fellows for professional growth of all kinds, owing to greater family responsibilities.

The same survey asked Fellows to compare their participation in the Teachers Institute with their experience with other professional growth opportunities. Figure 3 illustrates their responses. As these charts show, over half (55 percent) agreed that their experience at the Institute had been more important to their professional growth than their experience in teacher preparation classes, while only 21 percent disagreed with this statement. The same percentage (55 percent) rated their Institute participation as more important to their professional growth than other professional development programs elsewhere; on this question, only 13 percent thought it less important.

Figure 3A: Fellows' responses to the statement, "My experience as an Institute Fellow was more important to my professional growth than my experience in teacher preparation classes."

Figure available in print form.

Figure 3B: Fellows' responses to the statement, "My experience as an Institute Fellow was more important to my professional growth than my experiences in other professional development programs."

Figure available in print form.

Table 6 shows that proposals for enhancing teacher leadership in schools were also viewed with great optimism.

Table 6
Fellows and Non-Fellows Who Think Greater Teacher Leadership
Will Improve Public Education

Percent of Fellows Percent of
Non-Fellows
1986 1987 1987* 1988 1989 1990 1987*
Teacher leadership in managing schools
84
87
90
100
86
86
75
Greater teacher control over curriculum
80
80
91
93
84
86
79
* System-wide survey

These figures reflect high expectations for both proposals, though at the same time, well over half (62 percent of all Fellows and 68 percent of non-Fellows) saw promise in the idea of a more uniform city-wide curriculum. A very high percentage of both Fellows and non-Fellows—92 and 91 percent, respectively—also saw promise in more effective school principals.

For the purposes of the current report, it is worth noting that many of the proposals to which Fellows and non-Fellows responded most favorably are reflected in the Institute’s program. Greater teacher control over curriculum and greater emphasi s on the preparation of teachers in the academic subjects they teach (discussed in a section below) are two important examples. We also asked teachers directly what their expectations were for school teachers having an affiliation with a university, for greater collegiality in schools, and for the establishment of more professional development opportunities like the Teachers Institute. Figure 4 shows their responses.

Figure 4: Percentage of Fellows and Non-Fellows who think that proposals in the Institute's vein will improve education

Figure available in print form.

Source: Fellows’ Questionnaire, 1990; and non– Fellows’ Questionnaire, 1987

Fellows and non-Fellows corroborated this response when asked what effect they thought the Teachers Institute will have on public education in New Haven: 93 percent of Fellows and 71 percent of non-Fellows thought it will improve education, with 33 and 4 percent respectively foreseeing a great improvement. One percent of all non-Fellows and no Fellows thought that the Teachers Institute will make matters worse. The greater strength of Fellows’ responses, compared with that of non-Fellows, sugge sts that their experience at the Institute has shaped their expectations for these measures. Because both groups’ opinions are so similar on other questions about school reform and throughout the survey, it seems reasonable to attribute Fellows’ more opt imistic responses to proposals associated with the Institute’s approach to strengthening teaching and learning in schools to their positive experience as participants.


“Once again, I’ve completed the Institute with a sense of personal growth and satisfaction. This experience made me more aware of my professional commitment to teaching.”
—Institute Fellow, 1984


“The Institute was stimulating and challenging. Its strength lies in the opportunity for teachers to become creative and purposeful academically.”
—Institute Fellow, 1984
to the top of Professional Growth | to the top of Results

Respondents' Own Effectiveness as Teachers

Fellows and non-Fellows rated themselves highly on their effectiveness as teachers: on a scale of one (low) to five (high), 82 percent of Fellows in 1982 and 75 percent in 1987 gave themselves a four or five, and 78 and 71 percent respectively of non-Fellows did the same. Eighty-five and 90 percent of Fellows gave themselves a four or a five when asked about their intellectual interest in the subjects they teach, along with 80 and 86 percent of non-Fellows. This did not diminish their appreciat ion of these qualities in the Institute: when Fellows were asked if participating in the seminar had helped them grow professionally and intellectually, the majority said yes. Fellows in 1987 stated unanimously that it had helped them grow in these respe cts, and in no other year did fewer than 94 percent make the same claim. In each year between 1986 and 1990 more than half of the Fellows (between 54 and 57 percent) agreed “strongly” that the Institute had helped them grow professionally and intellectua lly.

to the top of Results

Teacher Leadership

Related to the question of teacher professionalism is that of teacher leadership. Teachers’ control over their own classrooms and curriculum, and the degree of leadership they are able to exercise in their schools, make a substantial difference in their sense of themselves as professionals. Again, the questions on issues of school reform in the Fellows and 1987 system-wide surveys are useful in illuminating the context of Fellows’ experience at the Institute. Asked if they thought freeing teac hers to decide how best to meet state and local goals for children while holding them accountable for student progress would improve education, as many as 84 percent and no fewer than 71 percent of Fellows in any given year agreed; 67 percent of non-Fello ws felt the same. No fewer than two–thirds (65 percent) and as many as 81 percent of Fellows also saw promise in the idea of restructuring the teaching force by introducing a new category of “lead teachers” with the proven ability to provide active leade rship in the redesign of the schools. As many as 42 percent (in 1988) agreed strongly with this proposal. Of non-Fellows, 53 percent agreed, including 18 percent who agreed strongly.

No fewer than 84 percent and as many as 100 percent of all Fellows in a given year thought that teacher leadership in managing schools would improve education, with between 41 and 54 percent expecting great improvement. Three–quarters (75 percen t) of non-Fellows agreed, including almost a third (32 percent) who agreed strongly. Greater teacher control over curriculum was also viewed with great optimism: between 80 and 93 percent of Fellows over five years thought that it would improve education , and as many as 43 percent agreed strongly with the proposal. Seventy-nine percent of non-Fellows agreed, 27 percent of them strongly.

to the top of Results

Teacher Leadership in the Schools

The 1987 system-wide surveys further contribute to the context in which we must understand findings on the Institute’s results, inasmuch as they pose questions about the attitudes of Fellows and non-Fellows to the leadership they felt able to exe rcise in their schools. In one question, respondents were asked to rate, on a scale of one (not at all) to five (a lot), the extent to which they felt they had a voice in determining certain aspects of their teaching situations.

As Figure 5 shows, a high proportion of Fellows—46 percent—report having little or no control over the subjects they are assigned to teach. Relatively few make the same claim about the materials they use, their professional activities, or the cu rriculum they teach; non-Fellows responses are remarkably similar. When asked directly about their participation in some aspects of their schools, however, Fellows and non-Fellows do not report having as much active participation as the question about th eir sense of control would suggest. Both groups said they had little involvement in planning class scheduling: 53 percent of Fellows and 52 percent of non-Fellows said they “never” participated in this planning, and only 12 and 23 percent, respectively, reported that this participation occurred “more than half the time” or “always.” Asked if teachers help select the curriculum to be taught in their schools, more than half of all Fellows (57 percent) and non–Fellows (52 percent) answered only “once in a while” or “never.”

Figure 5: Percentage of New Haven teachers who say they have little or no voice in determining aspects of their teaching situation

Figure available in print form.


“Nothing makes a teacher feel better about what he does than when he feels he is in control. The Institute provides us with the means for that control. Through each step of the process we see the unit develop and we know that it is truly ours. The seminar leader’s guidance is essential in helping us shape the final product, but in the end the unit is certainly ours.”
—Institute Fellow, 1989
to the top of Results

Teacher Leadership in the Institute

In light of this it is not surprising that Fellows report that the opportunity to design their own curriculum was a major incentive for them to participate in the Institute: no fewer than 85 and as many as 91 percent of Fellows characterized it a s an “important incentive,” and in no year did more than 7 percent discount its influence on their decision to apply. In the annual surveys almost all Fellows described developing their own curriculum unit as beneficial, as Figure 6 indicates.

Figure 6: How much Fellows said they benefitted from developing their own curriculum units

Figure available in print form.

No fewer than 93 percent in any other year agreed with the Fellows in 1990 that they had benefitted, at least to some extent, from developing their own curriculum unit.

Designing and teaching these units allows Fellows to exercise leadership in determining the conduct of their own classrooms; they also have an opportunity through the Institute Coordinators and Representatives—who are themselves Fellows—to exerci se leadership in the Institute itself. At least two–thirds (67 percent) of all Fellows agreed that their School Representative had worked to ensure that teachers had a direct role in designing the program to meet their needs, and between 37 and 46 percen t—except in 1986, when the figure was almost two-thirds (64 percent)—thought that the Institute Representative for their school provided them sufficient opportunity to contribute to planning Institute seminars. There is an Institute Representative in eac h school whose role it is to keep other teachers aware of and involved in the Institute’s activities and to facilitate the use of curriculum units.

Fellows commented further on the teacher leadership provided by Institute Representatives, as Figure 7 indicates. Responding to the question represented in the first chart, a significant majority (in all years more than two–thirds) of Fellows th ought that their Representatives were helpful, maintaining frequent contact with teachers in their schools who were prospective Institute participants. This is in many ways the Representatives’ primary responsibility, and the positive response in subsequ ent questions reflects this close relationship between the Representatives and the teachers whom they represent.

Figure7A: Fellows' opinions of how helpful the Institute Representatives in their schools were in maintaining frequent contact with teachers who were prospective Institute participants.

Figure available in print form.

Figure 7B: Fellows' opinions of how helpful the Institute Representatives in their schools were in assisting teachers in applying to the Institute

Figure available in print form.

Fellows’ responses demonstrate a similar satisfaction with the assistance offered by Institute Coordinators, who assist the seminar leaders in the operation of Institute seminars. As many as 95 percent agreed that the Coordinator in their semina r provided leadership without diminishing the collegial relationship within the seminar. Half or more of all Fellows (between 50 and 68 percent) in every year thought that the Coordinators provided strong teacher leadership within the Institute. Figure 8 shows Fellows’ reactions to more specific aspects of the Coordinators’ roles in 1990.

Figure 8A: Fellows' opinions of how helpful the Coordinators in their seminars were in monitoring the process of the seminar through observation and conversations with seminar members.

Figure available in print form.

Figure 8B: Fellows' opinions of how helpful the Coordinators in their seminars were in reporting information about Institute activities to seminar members.

Figure available in print form.

Figure 8C: Fellows' opinions of how helpful the Coordinators in their seminars were in providing information about guidelines for unit writing.

Figure available in print form.

Of particular importance is the first chart: the Coordinator’s observations and advice in the seminar are useful to Fellows, seminar leaders and the Institute administration alike, and they ensure that all of these groups are in frequent and frui tful communication. As Figure 8 shows, 90 percent of the 1990 Fellows thought that their Coordinator was helpful in this capacity. This positive response is characteristic of Fellows’ opinions of the Coordinators: in none of these capacities did less th an a majority of Fellows—in any year—view their Coordinators as helpful.

Finally, 86 percent of Fellows responding to the 1987 system-wide survey agreed that as a result of Institute participation, there is more opportunity for teachers to write their own curriculum. Almost half (49 percent) of Fellows on the same su rvey said that the Institute is run by New Haven teachers, and only 22 percent disagreed with the statement; of non-Fellows, 28 percent agreed, 61 percent did not feel strongly either way, and only 11 percent disagreed.


“As in previous years, this interest and control over subject matter gives me a fresh outlook, and I look forward to presenting the unit to the students.”
—Institute Fellow, 1986










“Our Representative was very supportive and enthusiastic. In fact I might not have taken the seminar without her encouragement and support. She was always there to answer questions and assist in ideas.”
—Institute Fellow, 1985










“Our seminar Coordinator was incredibly helpful to me. She listened to ideas, always answered questions, gave great suggestions, and was supportive when I almost felt like giving up.”
—Institute Fellow, 1985
to the top of Teacher Leadership in the Institute | to the top of Results

Collegiality

The prospect of collegiality among Public School teachers and between teachers and Yale faculty members strongly influenced the decision of many Fellows to participate. The opportunity to work with Yale faculty was an important incentive to betw een 69 and 80 percent of all Fellows, and a minor incentive to a further 16 to 22 percent; in no year did fewer than 90 percent indicate that contact with Yale faculty had played some role in encouraging them to participate. Furthermore, no fewer than 82 and as many as 99 percent of Fellows cited the opportunity to work with teachers from other schools as an incentive; in all years more than half (between 54 and 68 percent) listed it as an important incentive. Of non-Fellows responding to the question o f what might attract them to participate in the future, 72 percent saw working with Yale faculty as an incentive, and 82 percent were attracted by the idea of working with teachers from other schools. After completing the program Fellows expressed consid erable optimism concerning collegiality as an element of school reform. Between 89 and 97 percent over five years thought that establishing more collegial relationships among teachers would improve education, and as many as 60 percent thought it would ma ke a great improvement. Twenty-eight percent of non-Fellows saw such increased collegiality greatly improving education, and another 41 percent saw the promise of at least some improvement.

In the 1987 system-wide survey we asked Fellows to describe how supportive various individuals and authorities in their professional lives had been of their participation in the Institute, and asked non-Fellows to speculate on the support they wo uld receive if they were to participate. Table 7 shows their responses.

Table 7
Support Fellows say They Received, and Non-Fellows Would Expect to Receive, for Institute Participation

Percent Highly
Supportive
Percent Somewhat
Supportive
Percent Not
Supportive
Fellows Non-Fellows Fellows Non-Fellows Fellows Non-Fellows
School principal
45
36
38
46
18
18
Department chairperson
62
44
24
39
14
17
Curriculum supervisor
58
35
26
46
16
20
Other teachers
41
44
42
47
17
10
Central Office
31
23
33
44
36
33
Board of Education
35
24
32
40
32
37

In general, most Fellows—in almost all cases over two-thirds—feel that the individuals and authorities in their professional lives are or would be at least somewhat supportive of Institute participation. In particular, most Fellows and non-Fello ws in 1987 indicated the support they had received or would expect to receive from other teachers and administrators in their schools. Still, many teachers, Fellows and non-Fellows alike, expressed a feeling of isolation in their schools. As Figure 9 sh ows, when teachers were asked to rate “my sense of isolation in my school” on a scale of one (low) to five (high), 41 percent of Fellows in 1982 and 36 percent in 1987 circled either four or five; 26 and 22 percent of non-Fellows, respectively, did the sa me. More non-Fellows than Fellows rated their sense of isolation as low (a rating of one), 30 against 15 percent in 1982 and 45 against 38 percent in 1987. This suggests that teachers who feel more isolated in their schools may be more likely to turn to the Institute. But of all teachers surveyed a substantial number—at least a quarter—indicated that isolation figured in their experience in their schools. This was echoed in their sense of isolation in teaching as a profession: 36 percent of Fellows an d 37 percent of non-Fellows circled a four or five on the same scale—indicating that their sense of isolation was relatively high—in 1982, and 40 percent of Fellows, along with 28 percent of non-Fellows, did so in 1987. A sense of isolation was also an e specially important theme in the early written evaluations, as mentioned previously.

Figure 9: Fellows' and Non-Fellows' rating of “my sense of isolation in my school”

Figure available in print form.

The great majority of Fellows, however, reported that they had learned about Yale faculty and other teachers in New Haven through their participation in the Institute. Figure 10 shows statistics for 1990; no fewer than 80 and as many as 90 perce nt in any year thought that they had learned about other teachers and schools through the Institute, and almost as many—between 75 and 79 percent—said they had learned about Yale University and its faculty members. The difference in attitudes about Yale professors which this experience may bring about is illustrated by Table 8 (see page 27).

Figure 10A: Fellows' response to the statement "Through the seminar, I learned about other teachers and schools in New Haven." (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

Figure 10B: Fellows' reaction to the statement, "Through the seminar, I learned about Yale University and its faculty members." (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

Between 83 and 96 percent of Fellows said they had benefitted from discussing work-in-progress on their units with other Fellows in the seminars, and as many as 53 percent said they had benefitted from this exchange “a lot.” Almost as many felt they had benefitted from the discussion of work-in-progress on other Fellows’ units, with no fewer than 80 percent finding it beneficial and as many as 51 percent reporting that they had benefitted a lot.

Despite the fact that Fellows’ general impression of Yale before their participation is, as the section of this report on “Fellows’ Reactions to Yale” will show, worse if anything than that of non-Fellows, after participating in an Institute semi nar their opinions of Yale professors as scholars and colleagues are markedly more positive.

Table 8
Fellows’ and Non-Fellows’ Attitudes Toward Yale Professors

Percent who
agree
Percent who neither
agree nor disagree
Percent who
disagree
Fellows Non-Fellows Fellows Non-Fellows Fellows Non-Fellows
Yale professors are uninterested in teaching.
9
6
18
55
73
39
Yale professors are extremely knowledgeable
about their fields of study.
87
59
10
34
2
7
Yale professors are poor teachers.
3
4
32
57
65
39
Yale professors are more interested in
research than in teaching.
12
17
39
62
49
22
Yale professors have no idea what life is like
outside the “ivory tower.”
26
28
30
53
44
19

Significantly, Fellows’ relationships with their colleagues in the schools also improved as a result of their participation in the Institute, as Table 9 shows. In 1987 almost two thirds (61 percent) said their relationships with other teachers h ad been positively affected, and improved relationships with school principals, curriculum supervisors and department chairs were cited by 41, 50, and 40 percent of Fellows respectively. No Fellows thought that these relationships had been negatively aff ected.

Table 9
Change in Fellows’ Relationships with their Colleagues
as a Result of Institute Participation

Percent who report that they experienced...
Negative
Change
No
Change
Positive
Change
Other teachers in my school
0
39
61
My school principal
0
59
41
My curriculum supervisor
0
49
51
My department chairperson
0
59
41

When non-Fellows were asked if their relationships with teachers who had taken part in the Institute had changed, 40 percent said that they had changed positively, and only six percent perceived a negative change. Furthermore, over half (56 perc ent) of Fellows agreed that there was more discussion among teachers about the subjects they teach as a result of participation, and 37 percent thought there was more discussion among teachers about the students they teach.

Finally, as Figure 11 shows, 40 percent of Fellows thought that, as a result of Institute participation, there is more collegiality among teachers in their schools; only 22 percent disagreed. These findings suggest that the collegial character o f Institute seminars may have an ongoing influence on the lives of Fellows, perhaps providing a model for their professional relationships beyond the Institute.

Figure 11: Fellows' reaction to the statement, “As a result of Institute participation, there is more collegiality among teachers in my school.”

Figure available in print form.


“It seems that this year, as well as past years that I’ve participated, there is a true spirit of camaraderie among our group. Although each of us interprets the literature and art individually, there is only constructive criti cism offered. I find the seminar a time of rejuvenation—rethinking the reasons why I chose teaching as my career to begin with.”
—Institute Fellow, 1990


“Normally, I am a very quiet person when I’m with other adults in a meeting or class situation, but the atmosphere created by the seminar leader was such that I opened up and shared my opinions on the readings along with everyone else. It seemed that [he] felt that everyone’s ideas were important—everyone had something valuable to contribute.”
—Institute Fellow, 1990


“From the very first meeting we were an extremely cohesive group, very supportive of each other, and eager to learn from each other. I came away feeling I had made seven new friends.”
—Institute Fellow, 1985


“The Yale faculty member [who led the seminar] had a clear idea of our Fellow status, rather than student status. He planned, encouraged and coordinated feedback among us as well as being exceedingly available for advice and criticism....It was my best curriculum unit (so far), and by far the closest to ideal cooperation and fellowship I have experienced.”
—Institute Fellow, 1990
to the top of Collegiality | to the top of Results

III. Fellows’ Reactions to Selected Aspects of the Institute

A major portion of the Fellows’ questionnaire was devoted to Fellows’ reactions to their Institute experience. Some of the responses have been discussed in earlier sections. In this section, we report Fellows’ reasons for participating in the I nstitute and their reactions to selected features of the Institute program.

to the top of Results

Why Fellows Participate

We asked Fellows to comment specifically on the incentives to their participation. Having access to Yale facilities was important to many. In 1990, almost half (49 percent) considered the opportunity to use the libraries and other academic faci lities an important incentive, and an additional 36 percent ranked it as a minor incentive. Use of athletic facilities was an important incentive only to 9 percent; for 61 percent, it was not an incentive.

Thirty percent of Fellows indicated that the opportunity to have their curriculum units published and circulated by the Institute was an important incentive, and 38 percent listed it as a minor incentive. Similarly, 29 percent of non-Fellows—who were asked what aspects of the program would contribute most to their decision if they were to participate—said that having their work published would be a major incentive; 36 percent said it would be a minor one. A relatively small number of Fellows w ere attracted by the opportunity to have their course of study recognized for credit in a degree program: only 18 percent listed it as a major incentive, and 60 percent said it was not an incentive at all. Non-Fellows found this prospect more persuasive: 46 percent said it would be a major incentive, and a further 28 percent said it would be a minor incentive.

The collegiality of the Institute has had a major influence on Fellows’ decision to participate, as Figure 12 shows.

Figure 12A: The opportunity to work with Yale faculty as an incentive to Fellows' participation in the Institute

Figure available in print form.

Figure 12B: The opportunity to work with teachers from other schools as an incentive to Fellows' participation in the Institute

Figure available in print form.

Non-Fellows also found the opportunity to work with Yale faculty and other teachers potentially influential, though in a slightly lesser degree: 39 percent thought interaction with the faculty would be a major incentive, and a further 32 percent characterized it as a minor incentive. Forty-eight and 34 percent respectively thought the same of the opportunity to work with other teachers.

The opportunity to develop curriculum units to suit their students, and to exercise greater control over the curriculum they taught, influenced Fellows very strongly, as Figure 13 shows.

Figure 13: 1990 Fellows' opinions of curriculum units as an incentive to participation in the Institute

Figure available in print form.

Non-Fellows also found these opportunities potentially persuasive, though again they were less enthusiastic than Fellows: 75, 64 and 46 percent respectively [from top to bottom] thought of them as major incentives.

The opportunity for interdisciplinary work was a major incentive to 59 percent of 1990 Fellows and a minor one to 34 percent; for non-Fellows, 45 and 38 percent respectively anticipated the same. Figure 14 makes clear that the great majority of Fellows were persuaded by the academic and intellectual opportunities which the Institute offers:

Figure 14: 1990 Fellows' opinions of increased mastery of their subject and intellectual independence as incentives to their participation in the Institute. (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

Non-Fellows were attracted to these opportunities too: 65 and 61 percent respectively thought they would be major incentives to participation. Of particular interest is the response of elementary school teachers. As was stated in the introducti on, elementary school teachers were not fully included in the program until 1990. In that year, 95 percent said that the opportunity to exercise intellectual independence had been a major incentive to their participation, a degree of enthusiasm which ma y reflect the relatively small number of opportunities for study on the Institute’s level that are open to teachers of the youngest grades.

The benefits participants say they derive provide an implicit explanation for the success of the Institute in attracting teachers. Table 10 ranks various aspects of the program according to the degree to which Fellows in 1990 considered them use ful.

Table 10
Usefulness of Aspects of the Institute’s Program to Fellows in 1990

Percent of Fellows who found each useful...
to a
great
extent
to a
moderate
extent
to a
small
extent
Not
at
all
Did
not
use
Knowledge gained of subject matter
84
10
4
1
0
Seminar leader
75
19
4
1
0
Program overall
71
26
3
0
0
Stipend
56
25
12
7
0
Contact with Yale faculty
54
13
21
9
3
Underwriting guidelines
49
30
16
3
1
Interaction with other Fellows
44
36
14
4
1
Program schedule
43
29
23
5
0
Seminar bibliographies
42
34
15
3
6
Membership in the Yale Community
32
22
32
9
6
Lectures
21
40
24
11
3

These figures from 1990 are highly representative of findings from other years. The factors which emerge as most persuasive in this analysis are central to the concept of the Institute: collegiality, both with Yale faculty and with other teacher s; the opportunity for Fellows to write their own curriculum units, and the control this gives them over their teaching; academic preparation in the subject matters Fellows teach; and intellectual stimulation. The most important of these potential incent ives and perceived benefits may therefore be summarized as the opportunity to develop a curriculum unit by working with Yale and school colleagues in order to apply in their own teaching what they have learned in Institute seminars. In every year of the surveys, ninety percent or more of Fellows found that the opportunity to write curriculum suited to their needs and designed to motivate students was a major incentive to their decision to participate initially or again in the Teachers Institute.


“The resources available were a strong point. The library is good, as is the computer center, and the staff were useful and helpful.”
—Institute Fellow, 1990





“The strength of the Institute is in its outstanding seminar leaders. Their willingness to bring the latest information and research to us and still correct our first and second drafts shows to me what flexibl e and dedicated teachers they are.”
—Institute Fellow, 1990




“I feel the effects of having participated in the Institute already. My mind is busy with thoughts about school, with doing further study in the area of my unit, and I’m anxious to begin posing new challenges to my students.”
—Institute Fellow, 1988

“So often, ‘intellectual’ pursuits are not fostered for teachers on the elementary level. They run a very poor second to the development of methods over content. As important as methods are, this approach lea ves an important gap in our pupils’ development, as well as our own—the Institute seminar reverses this approach. The intellectual pursuits motivated by my seminar leader and expanded by our group led naturally into the development of a subject matter un it which certainly did not neglect methods.”
—Institute Fellow, 1990


“The experiences were extensive, enlightening, and refreshing educationally. The program is an intellectual awakening!”
—Institute Fellow, 1987











to the top of Why Fellows Participate | to the top of Results

Program Scheduling and Design

Readings

Fellows in both humanities and science seminars are asked to read a substantial amount of material related to the topic they are studying, both in preparing for seminar discussions and in researching the curriculum units they write. Figure 15 in dicates how much Fellows said they read in 1990.

As the chart shows, over half (52 percent) of Fellows in humanities seminars read more than a thousand pages to prepare for their meetings. Although seminars in the sciences tend to involve shorter—though generally more time-consuming—assigned r eadings, three quarters (74 percent) of the Fellows who participated in them read over a thousand pages in researching their curriculum units, along with 80 percent of their colleagues in the humanities. Still, no fewer than two thirds (65 percent) of Fe llows in any given year agreed that the reading period provided in the Institute’s schedule was long enough for them to complete the reading they most wanted to do.

Figure 15A: Number of pages read by Fellows in humanities and science seminars to prepare for seminar meetings (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

Figure 15B: Number of pages read by Fellows in humanities and science seminars to research their curriculum units (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

At the beginning of each Institute session, seminar leaders provide Fellows with an annotated bibliography of sources relevant to the seminar’s topic. Fellows, in turn, include annotated bibliographies for students and teachers in their finished units. Between 58 and 72 percent of Fellows found the general bibliography useful, and even more—between 71 and 81 percent—thought that the bibliographic assistance providedby the syllabus of weekly readings was useful. Two-thirds or more in each year agreed that the bibliographies were sufficiently annotated. Between 76 and 89 percent agreed that suggestions made to them individually by their seminar leaders had been valuable. Fellows found these different forms of bibliographical assistance useful in a variety of ways. In 1990, 65 percent said they had been helpful in preparing for seminar meetings, 76 percent said they were of assistance in researching their curriculum units, and 70 percent agreed that they would be useful for further reading in the future. Overall, between 68 and 84 percent of Fellows found the bibliographies useful to a great or moderate extent, and no more than 5 percent thought they were not at all useful.


“I read and used over half of the books recommended. I discussed, quite often, my choice of reading with my seminar leader and he was quite helpful, especially with the refinement of my topic.”
—Institute Fellow, 1985


“The bibliography for the seminar I was in proved very helpful as a starting point in focusing on a final unit topic. Most of my early research came from this list.”
—Institute Fellow, 1984
to the top of Readings | to the top of Results

Talks

In the first two months of each session the Institute schedules a series of talks given by Yale faculty members. The topics of the talks may reflect the content of a seminar being offered that year, preview a seminar that could be offered the fo llowing year, or address some other subject of scholarly or current interest. The speakers are usually past or prospective seminar leaders, though other faculty from the University may offer their special expertise in response to teacher interest.

In 1990, as Table 11 shows, over half (55 percent) of all Fellows thought that the talks offered an overview of Fellows’ work in the seminars to at least a moderate extent, with only 12 percent disagreeing entirely. All but 4 percent thought tha t the talks offered a sense of collegiality and common purpose among Fellows, and over half (53 percent) found this true to a great extent. Fellows agreed universally that they were an occasion for a pleasant social gathering, and, more importantly, 98 p ercent thought that they offered intellectual stimulation, with 74 percent saying so “to a great extent.” A great majority of Fellows that year said that the talks spurred them to read more about the topic (82 percent), discuss the topic with their stude nts (82 percent), and discuss the topic with other teachers (94 percent). “to a great extent.” A great majority of Fellows that year said that the talks spurred them to read more about the topic (81 percent), discuss the topic with their students (83 per cent), and discuss the topic with other teachers (94 percent).

Table 11
Percentage of Fellows Who Thought Institute Talks Were Successful in 1990

to a
great
extent
to a
moderate
extent
to a
small
extent
Not
at
all
In providing an overview of Fellows’
work in the seminars
25
30
33
12
In providing a sense of collegiality and
common purpose among Fellows
53
30
13
4
In providing an occasion for a pleasant
social gathering
44
38
19
0
In providing intellectual stimulation
74
24
0
1

Over five years, between 75 and 89 percent of Fellows agreed that the Institute had scheduled the right number of talks, and no fewer than 80 percent of Fellows in any year found the talks useful.







“The principal value of the talks was to answer a hunger in this teacher for hearing information from people who are able to work in depth in various fields.”
—Institute Fellow, 1984
to the top of Talks | to the top of Results

Schedule

The Institute schedule has evolved over the years to accommodate Fellows' work during both the school year and the summer. Fellows test aspects of their units-in-progress in their classrooms during the school year, and complete the units during the summer recess. There was mixed reaction to questions that posed possible changes in the schedule: between 9 and 19 percent of the Fellows wanted the schedule changed so that the entire session would be conducted during the summer, and between 16 and 30 percent wanted all activities to take place during the school year. There are obviously advantages and disadvantages to both proposals. Between 38 and 49 percent of Fellows work at least part time during the summer months, and they must also balance their participation with their professional workload during the school year.

Satisfaction with the schedule was high, but there was also a range of response to the questions about schedule. The majority of Fellows (between 62 and 74 percent) believed that the writing deadlines connected with their units occurred at the right times in relation to the Institute calendar. Over the years of the survey, between 44 and 62 percent agreed that the deadlines occurred at the right times in relation to the school calendar and between 39 and 52 percent disagreed. Nonetheless, bet ween 92 and 96 percent judged the Institute schedule to be "useful," and between 68 and 78 percent agreed that, all things considered, the Institute schedule is about the best it can be.


“The process, although it was difficult for me to meet the deadlines, is good in that it is a step-by-step approach and I am always amazed, when I think I have nothing to write that, in fact, I have a lot.”
—Institute Fellow, 1984
to the top of Results

Fellows’ Reactions to Yale

All Institute seminars and lectures are conducted on the Yale campus, and Fellows receive the benefits of membership in the university community—including full library privileges and the opportunity to use athletic and other facilities—for a full year from the beginning of the session in which they participate. The surveys speak strongly of the Fellows’ appreciation of the University setting and its resources. As indicated in the previous section, working with Yale faculty was an important ince ntive to participation for a majority of Fellows, and a small percentage—between 12 and 25 percent—sought out faculty members other than their seminar leaders. Access to academic facilities such as the libraries was an incentive for no fewer than 82 perc ent and as many as 96 percent, with as many as 63 percent indicating that it was an important incentive. In fact, between 73 and 96 percent of Fellows in any given year said they used these facilities, and more than half in most years said they used them a lot. Athletic facilities were a less important but still significant incentive to participation, cited by between 39 and 52 percent of Fellows (though “important” to only 7 to 17 percent). Very few, however, actually made use of them: 14 percent visi ted the gym in 1987, and only one Fellow took advantage of it in 1990. Museums—attended by as few as 24 and as many as 64 percent of Fellows—were somewhat more popular; the wide discrepancy in these last figures is probably attributable largely to the di fference from year to year in the use that specific seminars made of Yale’s collections.

Fellows and non-Fellows believe that Yale University is resistant to change in roughly equal proportions, with 28 percent of Fellows and 26 percent of non-Fellows agreeing with this statement; 33 and 26 percent, respectively, disagreed. Ninety-s even percent of Fellows and 88 percent of non-Fellows agreed that Yale has a wealth of cultural and educational resources. Sixty–six percent of Fellows and 52 percent of non-Fellows said that Yale makes a positive contribution to the surrounding communit y. Despite these relative consistencies, however, Institute participation significantly changes teachers’ general opinion of Yale University. Figure 16 shows how favorably or unfavorably non-Fellows and Fellows, both before and after their participation , report they looked on Yale.

Figure 16: Fellows' and Non-Fellows' opinions of Yale University (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

As these graphs indicate, Fellows’ impressions of the University before their participation are, if anything, less favorable than those of non-Fellows, but Fellows have a markedly more positive attitude after having participated. Their optimism about the accessibility of the University through the Institute and the favorable response to Yale and its faculty may help to explain why between 76 and 88 percent of Fellows, as opposed to 64 percent of non-Fellows, responded that school teachers having an affiliation with a university would improve education in schools.


“Having access to the Yale community has been an incentive and a welcome bonus to teaching in New Haven.”
—Institute Fellow, 1987


“Just being a part of the Yale family is a plus within itself.”
—Institute Fellow, 1989
to the top of Fellows’ Reactions to Yale | to the top of Results

IV. The Curriculum Units

The curriculum units developed by Fellows during their Institute participation represent the most tangible outcome of the Institute. A catalog of the units developed between 1978 and 1990 offers testimony to the range and variety of Fellows’ int erests and their creativity. A section of the Fellows’ questionnaire asked about Fellows’ experiences developing their units and their uses of both units that they themselves developed and units developed by other Fellows. In addition, the system-wide s urveys investigated the uses by non-Fellows of units developed by Institute Fellows and the reactions of both Fellows and non-Fellows following their use of the units.

to the top of Results

Development of the Units by Fellows

Fellows develop their curriculum units according to a process which has five steps to guide them to the final product. Table 12 illustrates the primary sources of Fellows’ ideas for their units:

Table 12
Primary Sources for Fellows’ Ideas for their Units
(as a percent of Fellows responding)

1986 1987 1988 1989 1990
A topic that I think is important for my students to study
44
38
27
32
41
A topic I have been interested in
17
10
38
34
22
A topic I have taught on which I want to do further work
19
29
16
13
20
A topic my students were interested in
0
14
5
8
6
The written description of my seminar
8
2
5
2
2
My reading for the seminar
0
2
3
2
0
A previous Institute seminar
3
0
3
2
2
A previous Institute talk
0
0
0
0
2
Discussion in my seminar this year
3
0
0
2
0
A requirement of my departmental curriculum
0
0
0
0
0
Other
6
5
3
4
4

Most Fellows selected either a topic which they thought was important for their students to study or a topic they were interested in: as many as 44 percent and no fewer than 27 percent over five years cited the former, and between 10 and 38 perce nt cited the latter. Many topics are shaped by the interdisciplinary nature of the seminars, and 81 percent of Fellows agreed that the Institute’s interdisciplinary approach had broadened their teaching curriculum. Fellows also responded positively to t he Institute’s writing process. Between 94 and 100 percent of Fellows agreed that it encouraged them to formulate, reformulate and enlarge their unit as they developed it from draft to draft; between 28 and 40 percent agreed strongly. Three quarters or more (between 73 and 88 percent) said that the writing process had encouraged them to prepare the draft naturally, making the final product seem more effortless.

Fellows reported benefitting from the process of writing a unit in a number of ways. Table 13 shows the responses of Fellows in both humanities and science seminars.

Table 13
Percentage of Fellows in Humanities and Science Seminars
Who Found the Institute Writing Process Helpful

A lot A little Not at all
Humanities Science Humanities Science Humanities Science
Sharpening writing skills
69
74
27
21
4
5
Sharpening research skills
55
68
39
32
6
0
Organizing thinking and refining ideas
90
84
10
11
0
5
Pacing writing
73
63
25
32
2
5

Despite the difference in the subjects they usually teach, Fellows in humanities and science seminars were equally positive about the benefits of the Institute writing process. Ninety-six and 95 percent of humanities and science teachers respect ively reported improvement in their writing skills, and equivalent percentages reported having been helped with sharpening their research skills and with pacing their writing. Ninety percent of humanities Fellows and 84 percent of Fellows in the sciences credited the process with helping them “a lot” with organizing their thinking and refining their ideas. Responses were similarly positive when Fellows were asked about the feedback they received from other Fellows and from their seminar leaders, and lea rning about the writing process in general.

Furthermore, new Fellows reported benefitting from the unit writing process as much as returning Fellows did, despite the fact that they had no previous experience with it. In 1990 their response to the questions in Table 13 was often more posit ive than that of returning Fellows. Eighty-four percent of new Fellows, for instance, thought that the process had sharpened their research skills “a lot,” as compared with 59 percent of returning Fellows; and more than two-thirds (68 percent) thought th ey had learned “a lot” more about the writing process, a claim made by only 54 percent of returning Fellows.

The Institute’s schedule also encourages Fellows to experiment with their units-in-progress in their own classrooms. Between 48 and 67 percent of Fellows tried out the subject matter or strategies of their units in their classes, and of those th ree quarters (from 79 to 95 percent) said that this helped to shape their final units.







“I wrote my unit to develop an idea I have been playing with over the past few years, and in fact, have been even teaching. This seminar gave me a chance to develop and to organize it into a coherent whole, and it will give me a chance to use it in my humanities classes. The unit will become the major focus of my humanities work.”
—Institute Fellow, 1989





“I find this process to be perfect for me. I like the graduation of writings and the way the completed unit is structured. I always try to rush things, but this writing process has really been well planned.”
—Institute Fellow, 1984










“As a writing teacher totally committed to teaching writing as a process and as an eight-year participant of the Institute, I believe we have the ideal guidelines. If a Fellow follows each step, the unit flows and grows very naturally, practically writes itself.”
—Institute Fellow, 1985
to the top of Development of the Units by Fellows | to the top of Results

Approaches, Activities and Skills Taught in the Classroom

Fellows were asked to describe their past teaching generally as well as their teaching of Institute units specifically, and the results show that the use of Institute units makes a significant difference in some of the approaches and activities t eachers use as well as the skills they teach. Figure 17 makes a few representative comparisons.

It is generally accepted that students learn more, understand better, and remember what they have learned longer when they are actively engaged in the learning process. As Figure 17 indicates, Fellows teaching their own units put much more empha sis on that sort of active learning, and rely less on evaluations such as test-taking.

Figure 17A: Fellows who teach analyzing writing and writing from research 'to a great extent' (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

Figure 17B: Fellows who administer tests or Socratically question ideas and values 'to a great extent' (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

Figure 17C: Fellows who teach preparing for exams to a 'great or moderate extent' (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

Furthermore, students of all levels appear to benefit from Institute units. Fellows were asked to identify the groups of students for which the activities, approaches and skills contained in their units were designed: between 67 and 80 percent s aid their units were suitable for average students, while 47 to 63 percent thought they could be taught to the most advanced students and 37 to 62 percent thought they could be taught to the least advanced students. Fellows experienced success in teachin g units to all these groups, as is discussed below.


“My curriculum unit will stimulate my students to do more reading, performing, and writing. It should make many plays come alive for the students through their active participation. Their learning should become more active and participatory. I hope to improve their literary analysis skills and comprehension by understanding cause and effect, the differences between fantasy and reality, and past and present.”
—Institute Fellow, 1988

“After researching this unit, I feel competent and more confident in approaching this subject. I know that it would enlighten other teachers who are hesitant about teaching a subject they are not familiar wit h.”
—Institute Fellow, 1990
to the top of Results

Units in Use in the New Haven Public Schools

From the outset the Institute has been interested in the extent and pattern of the use of Institute-developed curriculum units by Fellows and other teachers. Though the units are developed first for their authors’ own use, they are written for a n audience of teachers, and we have encouraged teachers throughout the New Haven Public Schools to make use of them in their own classrooms. We are accordingly interested not only in how Fellows use their own units, but how Fellows use other Fellows’ uni ts and how non-Fellows use Fellows’ units. We have conducted a number of surveys over the last ten years to investigate these types of unit use. The first, in 1981, was administered to Fellows and non-Fellows and concerned unit use alone. In 1982 we ad ded questions from the 1981 survey to our first system-wide general survey, and in 1985 we further refined our approach for a second survey solely on the topic of unit use. In 1987, based on what we had learned and what we had not learned from the three previous questionnaires, we added a substantial section of questions on unit use to the system-wide survey of that year. All of these surveys were given to both Fellows and non-Fellows; those given in 1981 and 1985 reflect only the use of units in the ye ars in which they were administered, while the system-wide surveys in 1982 and 1987 asked teachers to report their use of Institute units in any previous year as well. Because the response rates fell well short of including all the teachers who may have used Institute units, the 1981 and 1985 surveys yield a substantial undercount of units used, inasmuch as we did not extrapolate from the results, but simply tabulated them.

Furthermore, beginning in 1986 we decided we would ask Fellows at the conclusion of their participation each year about how they planned to use their new units, and accordingly included a section of questions on that topic in the annual Fellows s urveys. We intended in the future to make comparisons between what Fellows anticipate, and what Fellows and non-Fellows actually report about unit use that has already occurred when surveyed system-wide. The current data from the four system-wide survey s and the Fellows survey thus consist of responses to different questions asked in different years, and direct comparison is difficult. These data should therefore be understood more as documenting the minimum amount of unit use occuring at a given time, rather than as demonstrating changes in this use over time.

The Institute conducted its first survey on the use of Fellows’ curriculum units in April, 1981. The survey indicated that almost all of the units written up to then were still being used not only by their authors but by other teachers as well. They were being taught that year in approximately 700 school classes attended by almost 30,000 students. Because at that time there were about 9000 secondary school students in New Haven, these figures indicate that most students were studying Institute materials in at least one of their courses, and that many students were studying Institute materials in several courses. The survey conducted in 1985 determined that the number of school classes in which Institute units were taught had more than doubled since 1981, to more than 1500. At least a third of all New Haven teachers—Fellows and non-Fellows—were found to be using Institute units, with 71 percent having used two or more and 43 percent having used three or more.

The system-wide survey of 1982 asked Fellows and non-Fellows to report how many Institute units they had used in any year. Forty-one percent of non-Fellows, along with 90 percent of Fellows, said they had used at least one; 74 percent of Fellows said they had used two or more, and 79 percent said they had used one that year. Responding to the same questions on the 1987 system-wide survey, 96 percent of Fellows said they had used at least one Institute unit; 82 percent said they had used two or more, and 68 percent said they had used one that year. Only 22 percent of non-Fellows, however, reported having used an Institute unit, and only eight percent had used one that year. The apparent drop in unit use by non-Fellows between 1982 and 1987 may be partly attributable to the end in the early 1980s of New Haven’s city-wide in-service workshops, at which Fellows frequently presented the units they wrote to their colleagues. Although we attempted to offset this loss by creating teams of Fellows to make presentations in schools on individual Institute seminars and the units that had been written in them, the statistics above suggest that these efforts were of limited success. To the extent that the elimination of these workshops is responsible for a reduction in unit use, it is incumbent upon us to find new ways of encouraging non-Fellows to make use of the curriculum resources of the Institute, not the least because of the success non-Fellows have reported in adapting Fellows’ work for their own classrooms.

In the annual Fellows’ surveys, Fellows have been asked to describe how they plan to use the unit they have just written. The majority of Fellows—between 68 and 80 percent—expected to teach their units in one or two different courses, most of wh ich were to be a half-year or a year in duration; others expected to teach units in as many as five courses. Each course may be taught to more than one class of students: for example, a teacher might teach world history once a day to one class and Americ an history, a second course, two times a day to two different classes. Table 14 shows in how many classes Fellows expected to teach their new units.

Table 14
Number of Classes in Which Fellows Expect to Teach Their New Units

Percent of
Fellows in
1986
Percent of
Fellows in
1987
Percent of
Fellows in
1988
Percent of
Fellows in
1989
Percent of
Fellows in
1990
1 class
26
31
19
29
31
2 classes
22
36
40
16
22
3 classes
22
8
14
7
17
4 classes
11
8
12
21
15
5 classes
20
17
16
28
15

Because of confusion among the respondents about the relationship of the term “classes” to “courses” in our survey, some answered this question by giving the total number of classes in which they taught Institute units, while others gave the numb er of classes per course in which they taught Institute units. For the latter group, then, the number of classes would have to be multiplied by the number of courses they reported to get an accurate count of the total number of different classes of stude nts to whom they taught Institute units; the table above therefore also represents a minimum, and is an undercount.

Based on these figures, and on the average size of classes in New Haven, we have calculated that 1990 humanities Fellows alone—not including Fellows in the sciences, former humanities Fellows, or non-Fellows who teach Institute units—anticipated teaching their own, new Institute units to over 3,000 students in the New Haven Public Schools in the 1990-1991 school year. Furthermore, this is only a fraction of the unit use characterized by all of these studies taken together: as the responses over ten years demonstrate, the curriculum units available to New Haven teachers—of which there are now more than 700—are taught in great numbers in classrooms across the city by the Fellows who wrote them, by other Fellows, and by teachers who have not yet pa rticipated in the Institute’s program.






























“I also found the study and research for my unit exciting and renewed my interest in teaching the subject matter for the next school year. The seminar leader's comments and encouragement certainly helped me in preparing my unit and definitely built my self-esteem (I can still do a good, innovative unit with research even while working full-time and doing readings for seminars).”
—Institute Fellow, 1990

















“I’m sure they [other teachers] will be enthusiastic about the materials and the approach newly available to them. Teaching this year should be more stimulating than ever.”
—Institute Fellow, 1985
to the top of Units in Use in the New Haven Public Schools | to the top of Results

Fellows’ Use of Their Own Units

Fellows employed their units in different ways in their classrooms, as Table 15 shows. Thirty-nine percent in 1987 said they used units to introduce topics not in the textbook, and the same proportion used them to expand on topics that were in t he textbook. Thirty-seven percent used them as the primary resource for teaching a topic, with 30 percent adopting them as a substitute for other available material on the topic because the unit presented the topic better.

Table 15
Ways That Fellows Used the Institute Units They Wrote

Percent of Fellows
To introduce a topic not in the textbook
39
To expand on a topic in the textbook
39
As the primary resource for teaching
the topic of the unit
37
As a substitute for other available material on the
topic because the unit presented the topic better
30

Fellows designed the units they wrote for a wide range of ability levels. In 1990, a typical year, 80 percent of Fellows said they had designed their units for teaching average students, 50 percent said they had designed them for the most advanc ed students, and 61 percent said they had designed them for the least advanced students. These figures indicate that there is a substantial body of units which were designed by their authors to be taught to students of more than one ability level, a find ing in keeping with Fellows’ and non-Fellows’ conclusions about the units’ adaptability, as discussed below. Of Fellows who said they had not yet been able to use a unit they had written, then, it is not surprising that only 12 percent found that their s tudents’ level of preparation was not what they had anticipated when they wrote the unit.

Of the relatively small proportion of Fellows who had stopped teaching any unit they had themselves prepared in previous years, most explained that they were no longer teaching the subject of the unit (29 percent), that there was no longer enough time in the curriculum (21 percent), or that the unit was designed for a level of students different from the level they were currently teaching (21 percent). That teachers are reassigned to a different subject—in which they may not be formally prepared —reinforces the need for the subject matter preparation and curriculum development that the Institute provides. It also suggests another reason for Fellows’ recurring participation in the Institute, inasmuch as Fellows may wish to return to develop a uni t to replace one which they are no longer in a position to use. As the next section will describe, however, the fact that a Fellow may temporarily stop teaching a unit he or she wrote does not mean that its classroom life is interrupted. In fact, a majo rity of the Institute units in active use are taught by teachers other than their authors, and continue to reach students through their availability from all school libraries and the Institute itself.













“The seminar allowed me to shape and form my ideas into a viable unit that I can teach with confidence. The unit will be a new way of teaching for me and of learning for my classes.”
—Institute Fellow, 1990
to the top of Fellows’ Use of Their Own Units | to the top of Results

Fellows’ and Non-Fellows’ Use of Others’ Units

The system-wide surveys provided an opportunity to ask Fellows and non-Fellows about their experience of actually teaching Institute units which others had written. This was particularly important to us because of the Institute’s aim of producin g curriculum units which are not only useful to the Fellows who wrote them, but which can be adapted by other teachers for use in their own classrooms.

Table 16 shows the principal sources from which Fellows and non-Fellows learned about units by other Fellows which they taught, adapted by other teachers for use in their own classrooms.

Table 16
Where Teachers Learned About Others’ Curriculum Units They Used
(Principal Sources)

Percent of
Fellows
Percent of
Non-Fellows
My School Representative
30
54
The teacher who wrote the unit
29
8
An Institute Coordinator
27
31
The Index to Curriculum Units
16
15
A teacher who participated in the seminar
in which the unit was written
14
31
The Guide to Curriculum Units
13
8
Another teacher who had used the unit
7
0
The Institute newsletter
6
8
Source: System-wide survey of Fellows and non–Fellows, 1987

For Fellows and non-Fellows, actually reading other teachers’ units was the greatest incentive for using them: 20 and 26 percent respectively cited this as a reason for adopting them for their own classrooms. Also influential were the suggestion s of the teacher who wrote the unit or of another teacher who had used it. Most of those in both groups obtained the unit they used from an Institute Coordinator or Representative.

Most teachers found Institute units at least potentially self-sufficient: 88 percent of Fellows and 80 percent of non-Fellows thought units written by others contained enough background information to prepare them to teach lessons on the topic, a lthough 59 and 80 percent respectively did additional reading on the topic. Many also decided to seek help before making use of the unit: only half of all Fellows and 29 percent of non-Fellows ultimately sought no additional assistance. When they did se ek advice, Fellows were more likely to turn to the unit’s author (31 percent compared to 14 percent of non-Fellows), while non-Fellows tended to turn to other teachers (36 percent compared to 7 percent).

As with Fellows’ teaching of their own units, Fellows and non-Fellows alike taught others’ units to students of all levels: average students (51 and 38 percent respectively), advanced students (29 and 31 percent) and least advanced students (20 a nd 31 percent). Just as the Institute serves a representative group of all teachers in New Haven, so Institute units are used with many students of all levels.

When teachers reported they had stopped using others’ Institute units which they had taught in the past, their explanations varied. Half (50 percent) of Fellows attributed the decision to their no longer teaching the subject of the unit, a cause cited by only 20 percent of non-Fellows. Forty percent of non-Fellows, on the other hand, said the curriculum had changed; no Fellows listed this reason. A possible explanation for this difference is that Fellows may be more accustomed to writing units and then adapting them to new purposes. Other reasons cited less frequently for no longer teaching a unit given by both groups included a lack of time in the curriculum and a change in the age or ability level of students in the teacher’s class.

Fellows and non-Fellows tended to agree on the usefulness of the different components that make up an Institute unit. As Table 17 indicates, everyone in both groups found the objectives somewhat or very useful, and all non-Fellows and 98 percent of Fellows thought the same of the teaching strategies. Fifty-eight percent of Fellows and two thirds (67 percent) of non-Fellows thought that the sample lessons and classroom activities were very useful, and the rest thought they were somewhat useful; approval of the lists of resources for students and teachers and the classroom materials developed or purchased especially for teaching the unit was similarly high. Thirty-six percent of Fellows and 46 percent of non-Fellows found the entire unit very us eful; the rest, except for 2 percent of Fellows who didn’t use one, thought it was at least somewhat useful.

Table 17
Usefulness to Fellows and non-Fellows of Components of Institute Units

Percent who found each component...
very
useful
somewhat
useful
not at all
useful
Did not
use
Fellows Non-Fellows Fellows Non-Fellows Fellows Non-Fellows Fellows Non-Fellows
Sample lessons or classroom activities
58
67
42
33
0
0
0
0
List of resources for teachers
51
50
37
50
8
0
4
0
List of resources for students
47
36
45
55
2
9
6
0
Objectives
49
50
51
51
0
0
0
0
Teaching strategies
43
67
55
33
2
0
0
0
Entire Unit
36
46
62
54
0
0
2
0
Source: System–wide survey of Fellows and non–Fellows, 1987

As Fellows did with their own units, both Fellows and non-Fellows put the Institute units by others that they taught to a variety of uses (see Table 18). Forty-five percent of Fellows and 46 percent of non-Fellows employed them to expand a topic in the textbook, while 21 and 30 percent respectively used them as a substitute for other available material on the topic because the unit presented the topic better. No non-Fellows used units as the primary resource for teaching a topic, though 14 perc ent of Fellows did; most of the rest of both groups (18 and 23 percent) used them to introduce a topic not in the textbook. Both non-Fellows and Fellows were less likely to use others’ units as the primary resource on a given topic than were Fellows teac hing their own; they were similarly less likely to use others’ units to introduce a topic not in the textbook. This is probably attributable to the Fellows’ greater familiarity with their own units, and the breadth of their research in preparing them.

Table 18
Ways That Fellows and Non-Fellows Used Others’ Curriculum Units

Percent of
Fellows
Percent of
Non-Fellows
As the primary resource for teaching the
topic of the unit
14
8
To introduce a topic not in the textbook
18
23
To expand on a topic in the textbook
45
46
As a substitute for other available material
on the topic because the unit presented
the topic better
21
30

Eighty-six percent of Fellows found the sample lessons in curriculum units appropriate for the students for whom the unit was intended; 10 percent thought the reading level was too high, and 4 percent thought it was too low. Sixty percent of non -Fellows thought the sample lessons were appropriate, and the rest were evenly divided. Most teachers found Institute units adaptable to different grade levels: 84 percent of Fellows agreed with this, as opposed to 60 percent of non-Fellows. Again, the discrepancy may be attributable to the Fellows’ greater familiarity with the format of the units.

The fact that so many Fellows and non-Fellows cited this adaptability underscores again the effectiveness of Institute units with the greatest range of students. As a group, Fellows in 1987 were able to use Institute units with students of all a bilities, and many used units with students at two or three different levels. Furthermore, as Figure 18 illustrates, almost all of the Fellows who used units with students of any level reported success. The responses to these questions in 1982 were almo st identical, and corroborate this evidence for the adaptability and success of Institute units with all students.

Figure 18: 1987 Fellows who used Institute units prepared by other teachers and who thought they were successful with students of different ability levels (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

Fellows and non-Fellows differed on the amount of preparation time they thought Institute units required: half of all non-Fellows (50 percent) thought they required more preparation time to teach than other curriculum materials, as opposed to onl y 22 percent of Fellows. Again, Fellows’ familiarity with the format and design of the units may account for this discrepancy. More than a third (36 percent) of Fellows found Institute units more enjoyable to teach, and only 4 percent found them less; t hough only 11 percent of non-Fellows thought they were more enjoyable, all of the rest thought they were equally enjoyable to teach.

Fellows and non-Fellows both compared Institute units favorably with their commercial counterparts (see Table 19). Sixty-four percent of Fellows and 90 percent of non-Fellows thought that Institute units’ objectives compared favorably to those o f commercial units, and 82 and 60 percent, respectively, thought the same about teaching strategies. Seventy-eight percent of Fellows and 60 percent of non-Fellows agreed that the units’ sample lessons and classroom activities compared favorably to comme rcial units, and half or more of both groups expressed the same opinion of the lists of resources for teachers and students. In none of these areas did more than 10 percent think that Institute units compared unfavorably to commercial materials.

Table 19
Fellows’ and Non-Fellows’ Comparison of Institute Units with Commercially Prepared Curriculum Materials

Percent who compared units...
Unfavorably No difference Favorably
Fellows Non-Fellows Fellows Non-Fellows Fellows Non-Fellows
Objectives
6
10
30
0
64
90
Teaching strategies
2
10
16
30
82
60
Sample lessons or classroom activities
10
10
12
30
78
60
List of resources for teachers
6
10
18
40
76
50
List of resources for students
8
10
26
40
66
50

Nevertheless, both groups had recommendations for how Institute units might be improved: 32 percent of Fellows and 62 percent of non-Fellows wanted to see more sample lessons and classroom activities. Seventeen and 30 percent, respectively, sugg ested more resources for students; 23 percent of each group suggested more classroom materials for teaching the unit; and 21 and 30 percent respectively expressed a wish for more teaching strategies.

Overall, 42 percent of Fellows and 10 percent of non-Fellows thought that Institute units were superior to their commercially prepared counterparts, and only 4 percent of Fellows—and no non-Fellows—found them inferior. It is not surprising, then , that sixty-two percent of all Fellows agreed that the Teachers Institute has had a large impact on their teaching curriculum, along with 10 percent of non-Fellows; only 15 and 40 percent, respectively, disagreed.


“I’m going to implement my unit shortly after school begins; it’ll be a pleasure to use the knowledge and confidence (of and in a topic I’ve avoided in the past) I’ve gained in seminar. I feel the Institute’s impact is growing in my school—more people are involved in the Institute directly or reading (and using) units.”
—Institute Fellow, 1985






“I will use my unit not only in my classroom with students but with teachers and staff from the middle schools of New Haven.”
—Institute Fellow, 1984










“I feel certain that other teachers will use the unit which I developed as they have in the past. It will certainly enrich the reading and writing assignments of students taking American literature. The unit will be used as part of the American literature program and will take about three or four weeks. Using other units and my own will greatly improve and enrich the English curricula.”
—Institute Fellow, 1985










“I am not only looking forward to using my unit with my own students, but to sharing my unit with my fellow English teachers. At a department meeting I will be able to give a demonstration of the unit and be o n hand to share my resources and expertise as the need may arise.”
—Institute Fellow, 1988













“Our department head tries to rotate the courses we teach, but no matter how the rotation goes, most teachers have to have some lower level students. These students are the most difficult to teach and need to be in smaller classes with excellent material. That’s not the situation. They are our largest classes and the material available for them is detrimental—reinforcing of failure. The material I’ve produced at the Institute has been primarily aimed at fil ling this need, but it automatically provides good material for problems for algebra and geometry classes, where there already is, usually, good material.”
—Institute Fellow, 1988


“Preparation of the curriculum unit has been a tremendous learning adventure. As a teacher there are many ideas that seem to be good ones, but time and/or opportunity will not allow you to develop them. Throu gh the Institute and structured guidance, the dreams of doing this become a reality.”
—Institute Fellow, 1990






















to the top of Fellows’ and Non-Fellows’ Use of Others’ Units | to the top of Results

V. Fellows’ Reports of Student Response

The ultimate test of the effectiveness of the Institute is, of course, the benefit that it brings to students in the New Haven Public Schools. It is a traditional dilemma of program evaluation that the effects for students, of programs whose dir ect beneficiaries are the teachers of such students, are diffuse and difficult to measure. As should be amply evident from this report, teachers respond to the Institute in personal ways. While the overwhelming majority report having benefitted in many of the same ways, the reflection of this benefit in their teaching is less easily described. Given this difficulty, the Institute staff chose to ask the Fellows themselves to report on changes in their teaching as a function of their participation in the Institute, and on the response of their students to the curriculum units they, the Fellows, had developed. Fellows and non-Fellows were asked to report the reactions of their students to the units that were developed through Institute participation and to compare (the teachers') perceptions of student response in the cases of classes in which Institute units were and were not taught. Such measures are clearly not without bias. They provide some degree of insight into the effects that teachers perceive for students, but leave unanswered questions of students' own perceptions. Nonetheless, the results are instructive.

The majority of Fellows reported that, as a result of their Institute seminar, they had a higher expectation of their students’ ability to learn about the seminar subject. Given well-known findings about the established correlation between teach er expectations and student achievement, this is particularly significant. Figure 19, representing responses from 1990, is typical of the last five years.

Figure 19: Fellows’ response to the statement “As a result of my seminar, I have a higher expectation of my students’ ability to learn about the seminar subject” (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

Furthermore, 64 percent of Fellows in 1982 and 65 percent in 1987 agreed that the Teachers Institute had led to an increase in student learning; 13 percent in 1982 and 22 percent in 1987 agreed strongly, and no more than 5 percent disagreed. Twe nty-two percent of non-Fellows, asked the same question in 1987, agreed, and only 15 percent disagreed.

Both Fellows and non-Fellows considered students’ response to Institute units at least as good or better than student response to commercially prepared curriculum units, as Table 20 shows.

Table 20
Student Response to Institute Units

1982 1987
Higher About
the same
Lower Higher About
the same
Lower
Fellows Non-
Fellows
Fellows Non-
Fellows
Fellows Non-
Fellows
Fellows Non-
Fellows
Fellows Non-
Fellows
Fellows Non-
Fellows
Student attention in class to Teachers
Institute units has been...
29
32
71
68
0
0
36
20
64
80
0
0
Student interest for Teachers
Institute units has been...
42
33
58
67
0
0
44
30
56
70
0
0
Student motivation for Teachers
Institute units has been...
26
20
73
80
0
0
46
10
54
90
0
0
Student mastery of Teachers
Institute units has been...
32
24
68
77
0
0
40
20
60
80
0
0
Source: 1982 and 1987 system–wide surveys

Student attention was one area where this improvement can be seen: 29 percent of Fellows in 1982 and over a third (36 percent) in 1987 thought that attention in class to Institute units had been higher, and 32 and 29 percent of non-Fellows, respe ctively, agreed. Well over a third (42 and 44 percent) of Fellows in each year thought that student interest in Teachers Institute units had also been higher, and 26 and 46 percent thought that their motivation for Institute units had been higher as well . In 1982 33 percent of non-Fellows agreed that interest had increased, as did 30 percent in 1987; 20 and 10 percent thought the same of student motivation. Student mastery was also cited: a third or more (32 and 40 percent) of Fellows reported that mas tery of Institute units was higher, and 20 and 24 percent of non-Fellows agreed. Finally, in neither of the years that this question was asked did any respondent—Fellow or non-Fellow—say that student response to Institute units was lower than their respo nse to commercially prepared curricular materials.

Figure 20 reports Fellows’ answers to questions about their students’ overall response to curriculum units used in their classroom.

Figure 20A; Fellows' response to the statement, "As a result of my teaching of my curriculum units, students exhibit greater mastery of the subject I teach." (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

Figure 20B: Fellows' response to the statement, "As a result of my teaching of my curriculum units, students see me as more interested in what I am teaching." (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

Figure 20C: Fellows' response to the statement, "As a result of my teaching of my curriculum units, students view the class more positively." (in percent)

Figure available in print form.

These charts indicate that a substantial majority of Fellows agree that students exhibit a greater mastery of the subject, are more interested in what is being taught, and view the class more positively when the Fellow is teaching an Institute cu rriculum unit. Sixty-two percent also agreed that students saw them as more caring when they were teaching an Institute unit, and 85 percent believed that, as a result of the unit, students understood that their teacher was continuing to learn. No more than three percent of Fellows disagreed with the last two claims.


“I have found that student interest and enthusiasm are directly proportional to teacher enthusiasm; so, I look forward to a good several weeks of high energy learning in my classes coming solely from the Institute program. I gu ess this means I’ll have to do more Institutes to keep the level high all year.”
—Institute Fellow, 1985











“Don’t be afraid to put issues on a higher level, because sooner or later these statements will make sense, and also the students should be exposed to a higher level of thought.”
—Institute Fellow, 1988











“After teaching for a number of years, I am always looking for new ways to get things done as much for myself as for the students in my classes. The excitement I feel about my unit this year will surely be fel t by my students as well. By bringing together different types of readings, and then developing different modes of writing for self expression, my students will gain confidence in their ability to write more comfortably in their own voice.”
—Institute Fellow, 1990

to the top of V. Fellows’ Reports of Student Response | to the top of Results
© 1992 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

© 2014 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
Terms of Use Contact YNHTI