Faculty Publications

A Model Of Co-Construction For Curriculum And Professional Development In Head Start: The Readiness Through Integrative Science And Engineering (RISE) Approach

Document Type


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Teachers College Record






Background/Context: In the context of increasing accountability mandates in the preK-12 education system, the importance of professional development (PD) supports for early childhood educators is recognized. Education leaders emphasize the importance of partnering with teachers to inform the development of effective PD approaches. This partnering process is often referred to as co-construction. Co-construction with teachers is thought to be an essential element for ensuring that the learnings gained from any PD program are maintained once intensive supports are removed. However, guidance is scant concerning specific aspects of effective co-construction. Purpose of Study: In this article, we document the process of co-construction within the Readiness through Integrative Science and Engineering (RISE) curriculum and PD approach. In so doing, we hope to illuminate processes potentially at work within the "black box" of PD. Setting/Participants: The RISE project was implemented at two Head Start program sites that served a high proportion of dual language learning children and immigrant families in a large city in the northeastern United States. Participants were teachers and parent volunteers from these two programs. Research Design: Using grounded theory methods, qualitative data on implementation across key RISE contexts were analyzed. Data collected across three years included digital audio- and video-recorded interactions among participants, written documentation of meeting agendas, planning notes, and meeting notes. Results: Analyses resulted in the articulation of a three-step process: (1) setting the conditions for co-construction (establishing mutual respect and trust among partners, leveling roles and authority, and validating/naming partners' expertise); (2) establishing joint activities as the core process (setting shared goals and agenda, building relationships, and validating coconstructed products); and (3) observing outcomes of co-construction (shifts in attitudes and interactional roles, appropriation of RISE concepts, and integration of RISE components). Conclusions/Recommendations: The RISE model of co-construction comports with what others in the field have proposed about the importance of teacher input into their own professional learning, adding further dimensionality through systematic documentation and grounded theory analysis. We discuss how the RISE co-construction approach is similar to and distinct from other such efforts in the field of early childhood education, and we suggest future directions for research to document and test effective PD processes.

Original Publication Date



UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa



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