The adoption of problem-based inquiry of any kind is both challenging and rare. We know that teachers are the key to what curriculum students experience but reform has been slow. Yet the research literature is also filled with examples of seemingly rebellious social studies teachers who routinely implement powerful instruction in their classrooms in spite of many obstacles. This contradiction raises the fundamental question that drives all of my research: Why do some social studies teachers adopt professional knowledge for problem-based inquiry while others do not? How can researchers partner with teachers, school districts, and other educators to facilitate the development of a professional knowledge base for social studies instruction?
I am currently engaged in a three-year lesson study professional development project with my colleague, Dr. Lamont Maddox, Associate Professor at the University of North Alabama. We are investigating how lesson study might be used to develop professional knowledge for problem-based geographic inquiry. The Bridging Divides Project received partial funding from the National Council for Geographic Education.