Statements such as the above made by participants in the Teaching American History projects in Illinois from 2001 to 2005 are representative of participants’ goals and experiences in projects across the country. Teachers have reported anecdotally that they enter these professional development experiences with goals to improve their teaching of American history and the learning and engagement of their students through collaboration with history education colleagues in both secondary and higher education settings. Th ese goals are sometimes in line with the goals of the originating legislation, to improve teachers’ content knowledge of traditional American history, while in some cases they go beyond this goal. Teachers report achievement of these goals to varying degrees of success. Rather than rely on purely anecdotal reports, the research described in this chapter was designed to
document this anecdotal knowledge with an objective evidence-based analysis of participant experiences. By collecting data and comparing results from fi ve different Teaching American History projects in Illinois, the research was designed to see if there are similarities in terms of what was successful in each project both in achieving the goals set by the project and in terms of the types of professional development activities and collaborations preferred by the participants to achieve these goals. Th e research was also designed to determine if a correlation exists in terms of achieved goals and the types of collaborative professional development activities used by the projects.