MISTILINA SATO, PhD
2008 KSTF Research Fellow
College of Education and
University of Minnesota
In her research, Dr. Misty Sato works closely with practicing teachers to systematically study their practice, and to make that professional experience accessible to beginning teachers. She brings a wealth of empirical knowledge to that research from her own background. After completing her undergraduate degree at Princeton University in 1990, Misty began her career in science education, working as a middle school teacher in Plainsboro, New Jersey. “The school was transitioning to a team-based approach in which five teachers shared 120 students. We had a team schedule that we could flexibly control. I am in awe at how lucky I was compared to so many teachers who begin their careers alone in their private classrooms.” Understanding the value of a team-based approach continues to drive her research efforts.
After receiving her PhD in 2002 from Stanford University in curriculum and teacher education, with a specialty in science education, Misty worked as a postdoctoral fellow and director of the National Board Resource Center at Stanford. During her time in the San Francisco Bay area, she developed and directed a regional professional development program for practicing teachers pursuing National Board Certification; and led a four year longitudinal study of the impact of National Board Certification in teachers' classroom assessment practices.
Misty’s project is designed to find better ways to help teachers understand the power of formative assessment, and to help them develop these practices in their classrooms. “Assessing student understanding is one of the most important jobs that teachers do – and they do it hundreds of times every day, not just at test time.” She hopes that her research will both help science teachers get better at their everyday assessment of student understanding, and describe instructional practices that allow teachers to focus on student assessment.
“Considerable research shows that student learning is improved when teachers use formative assessment strategies in their teaching; but studies also show that despite this value, most teachers do not know how to teach with a mindset and the strategies of formative assessment.”
Under the purview of this research, ten high school science teachers are investigating the integration of formative assessment into their regular teaching practices. The teachers and university staff form a research team that meets monthly, and the data collected includes monthly school visits and observations.
Awards and Recognitions
Kappa Delta Pi/AERA Division K Early Career Research Award (2007); University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development Women's Philanthropic Leadership Circle Rising Star Award (2008)
- Sato, M & Lensmire, T.J (2009). Poverty and Payne: Supporting teachers to work with children of poverty. Phi Delta Kappan, 90(5), 365-370
- Sato, M., Wei, R. C., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2008). Improving teachers’ assessment practices through professional development: The case of National Board Certification. American Educational Research Journal, 45(3), 669-700.
- Sato, M. & Atkin, J M. (Dec 2006). Supporting change in classroom assessment. Educational Leadership, 64(4), 76-79.
- Shulman, J., & Sato, M. (Eds.) (2006). Mentoring teachers toward excellence: Supporting and developing highly qualified teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publications.
- Atkin, J. M., Coffey, J. E., Moorthy, S., Sato, M., & Thibeault, M. (2005). Designing everyday assessment in the science classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.
Collaborating with experienced science teachers to study and write about their classroom assessment practices can provide strong, real-life examples of teaching and professional development for beginning teachers.