Using Student Surveys: Research Findings and Implications for Teaching and Learning

Using Student Surveys: Research Findings and Implications for Teaching and Learning
Using Student Surveys: Research Findings and Implications for Teaching and Learning


AYPF will host a series of forums examining the use of student surveys to inform continuous improvement of teaching and learning.  The first forum on December 6, 2013 is entitled “Using Student Surveys: Research Findings and Implications for Teaching and Learning.”  This forum will focus on what we have learned through recent research on the use of classroom- level student surveys. Dr. Ronald F. Ferguson of Harvard University will show how surveys capture key dimensions of classroom life and teaching practices as students experience them.  The validity and reliability of student feedback will be presented as well as the relationship between survey results and student learning outcomes. Paul Ronevich, science teacher at the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy, will discuss his experiences using the data from student surveys, and William Hileman, Vice President of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers will discuss the challenges and policy implications of integrating student surveys into teacher evaluations. Subsequent forums will examine implications for leadership and school improvement initiatives, and district and state policy.

Presenters Included:

Ronald (Ron) Ferguson, Senior Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Education

William (Bill) Hileman, Vice President and Staff Representative, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers

Paul Ronevich, Science Teacher, Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy

Presenter Biographies

Ferguson_Photo formattedRon Ferguson’s teaching, consulting and research over more than three decades have focused on reducing economic and educational disparities. He is the creator of the Tripod Project for School Improvement, the faculty co-chair and director of the Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard University and faculty co-director of the Pathways to Prosperity Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is a Senior Lecturer in Education and Public Policy at the Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a senior research associate with the Wiener Center for Social Policy. He has taught at Harvard since 1983.

His recent work has attracted wide attention. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project on Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) completed in 2013 found that student perceptions of teaching using Dr. Ferguson’s Tripod Project survey tools help to predict learning gains in public school classrooms.  His report, How High Schools Become Exemplary (available at, was featured on the front-page of the New York Times. Another report, “Pathways to Prosperity,” has added fuel to the national debate on how to help all youth, not just the college-bound, transition successfully from school to work. His most recent book is Toward Excellence with Equity: An emerging vision for closing the achievement gap, published by Harvard Education Press. He earned an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both in economics.


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William Hileman has been a PFT Executive Board member since 2006 and is currently the PFT Vice-President for Middle Schools, a PFT Staff Representative, an AFT Pennsylvania Vice President, and a delegate to the Allegheny County Labor Council. As member of the PFT staff, Hileman represents 28 schools, student services, early childhood, school safety, paraprofessionals, and the Technical-Clerical unit.

From 1986 to 2008 Mr. Hileman taught chemistry, biology, and physics at George Westinghouse High School (15 years) and the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA, 8 years). Mr. Hileman served as a PFT building representative at CAPA. Mr. Hileman is centrally involved in several of the current initiatives associated with the Empowering Effective Teachers plan, including the work on the Teaching and Learning Environment, the development of value added measures, administration of the Tripod student perception survey, and the Promise-Readiness Corps—a program to address the needs of 9th and 10th grade students.

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Paul Ronevich is a middle school science teacher at Pittsburgh Science & Technology Academy. He “loops” with these students, following them for three years through grades 6, 7 and 8. Born and raised in Steubenville, Ohio, Paul attended Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania where he acquired his bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Science.

“Diverse experiences have helped me to discover how fascinating our world is and helped me to gain experience I can bring to my students. In college, I studied field biology for six months in New Zealand and Australia where I gained an in-depth understanding for ecology. I spent a summer internship in Denali National Park in Alaska performing outdoor education for young adults. My travels have also taken me to many foreign countries through internships and study abroad.”

Paul is in his seventh year teaching middle school science in Pittsburgh Public Schools and his fifth year at SciTech. “Our science classroom will involve exciting project-based learning, fun activities, interesting discussions, lively debates, and ‘aha’ discoveries. Getting to know each student and figure out what makes them ‘tick’ is the most exciting part of my job. If kids don’t love learning, then my job’s not done.”

Most of Paul’s day involves teaching and planning lessons, providing feedback to students, and contacting parents to support students. Also, Paul is responsible for an Advisory group of students who he meets with weekly as well as two clubs (Experiment Club and Nerd Game Club) that meet during the school day.


Click here to view Bill Hileman’s slides

Click here to view Ron Ferguson’s slides

Watch Paul Ravonvich talk about feedback in a Teaching Channel video:

Click here to view the forum brief

Presenter Information

Ronald (Ron) Ferguson

Senior Lecturer

Harvard Graduate School of Education

79 JFK Street, Mailbox 103

Cambridge, MA 02138


William (Bill) Hileman

Vice President and Staff Representative

Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers

10 South 19th Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15203


Paul Ronevich

Science Teacher

Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy

107 Thackeray Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15260




The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.