Project STELLAR—Longitudinal social science research

Project STELLAR—Longitudinal social science research

US Department of Education
As qualitative researcher and research coordinator from 2017-2021, I supported a $3-million federal research grant investigating the impact of a professional development program on teacher effectiveness. Quantitative analysis of over 50 teacher observations demonstrated a significant difference between participating and control-group teachers.


Researcher, Research Coordinator


June 2017-August 2021



Data collection

Research design


Rural schools in north central Florida are receiving increasing numbers of English language learner students. Despite the specialized instructional needs of these students, many of their teachers lack the specialized expertise and support necessary. Project STELLAR was a National Professional Development grant designed to assess the impact of a targeted professional development on the instructional practices of participating teachers.

Research statement and goals

The goal was to assess the effectiveness of an innovative professional development program on the instructional practices of participating teachers.
  • Develop analytical rubric for field observation in teachers’ classrooms
  • Collect observational data longitudinally in the classrooms of two sections of teachers (intervention and control groups)

Research methodology

Quasi-experimental longitudinal study (three years)
  • Scale-based, analytical rubric for teacher observations
  • 65 classroom observations conducted across six schools in three rural communities
  • 45 minutes/observation

Recruitment criteria and process

By campus visit, email, and survey, I helped recruit over 60 participating educators.

Twenty-one (21) educators from the intervention group:

  • served English learner students
  • demonstrated interest in improving outcomes for EL students
  • committed to complete a graduate-level certificate program

Forty (40) educators for the control group were matched with intervention teachers based on similar:

  • role (grade level, English learner students),
  • age, and
  • level of education.

Participating teachers at an orientation event (Spring 2019)
Participating teachers at an orientation event (Spring 2019)

Analytical rubric for field observations

In collaboration with grant leadership, I co-developed a scale-based, analytical rubric for in-classroom observations incorporating both quantitative and qualitative elements.

Analysis and Findings

Quantitative analysis revealed success with mixed results.
  • Significant impact on instructional practices of participating teachers (field observation)
  • No significant impact on student achievement data


Based on the promising findings demonstrated, a new iteration of this grant was written to scale up this training program and the associated observation protocol for implementation across the state of Florida. The application is currently under review by the US Department of Education with a response expected by December 2021.


As an emerging user researcher, I found this experience invaluable, if frustrating at times.

The research plan would have benefited from a well planned discovery stage:
to identify a research program more closely aligned with teachers' needs and challenges
to investigate potential logistical challenges related to recruiting, participant management, and field work
to promote greater collaboration and investment with the primary stakeholders (at the district-level)

Find out more

Visit Project STELLAR's website.