Disciplinary Content Knowledge
Learning Science as Inquiry with the Urban Advantage: Formal-Informal Collaborations to Increase Science Literacy and Student Learning
This project hypothesizes that learners must have access to the real work of scientists if they are to learn both about the nature of science and to do inquiry themselves. It explores the question "How can informal science education institutions best design resources to support teachers, school administrators, and families in the teaching and learning of students to conduct scientific investigations and better understand the nature of science?"
The American Museum of Natural History and Michigan State University propose a research and development project focused on DR-K12 challenge #2 and the hypothesis that learners must have access to the real work of scientists if they are to learn both about the nature of science and to do inquiry themselves. The overarching questions that drive this project are: How can informal science education institutions best design resources to support teachers, school administrators, and families in the teaching and learning of students to conduct scientific investigations and better understand the nature of science? How are these resources then used, and to what extent and in what ways do they contribute to participants’ learning? How are those resources then used for student learning? Answering these questions will involve the use of existing and new resources, enhancement of existing relationships, and a commitment to systematically collect evidence. Urban Advantage (UA) is a middle school science initiative involving informal science education institutions that provides professional development for teachers and hands-on learning for students to learn how to conduct scientific investigations. This project will (1) refine the UA model by including opportunities to engage in field studies and the use of authentic data sets to investigate the zebra mussel invasion of the Hudson River ecosystem; (2) extend the resources available to help parents, administrators, and teachers understand the nature of scientific work; and (3) integrate a research agenda into UA. Teaching cases will serve as resources to help teachers, students, administrators, and families understand scientific inquiry through research on freshwater ecosystems, and—with that increased understanding—support student learning. Surveys, observations, and assessments will be used to document and understand the effects of professional development on teachers, students, administrators, and parents. The study will analyze longitudinal, multivariate data in order to identify associations between professional development opportunities for teachers, administrators, and parents, their use of resources to support their own learning and that of students, middle school teachers’ instructional practices, and measures of student learning.
This teacher professional enhancement program brings K-12 educators and polar researchers together in hands-on field experiences in the Arctic and Antarctic. Project activities and products foster the integration of research and education to produce a legacy of long-term teacher-researcher collaborations, improvement of teacher content knowledge and teaching practices, shareable online learning resources based on real-world science, improved student knowledge of and interest in the Arctic and Antarctic, and broad public engagement in polar science.
This project examines the effect of four different types of induction programs (district-based, e-mentoring, university-based, intern programs) on 100 5th year teachers of secondary science. The teachers involved in the study have participated in a previous study during their first three years of teaching.
This project examines the effect of four different types of induction programs on 100 5th year teachers of secondary science. The teachers involved in the study have participated in a previous study during their first three years of teaching.
The four types of induction programs are described as follows.
1. General induction programs offered by school districts/regional centers,
2. Science-specific e-mentoring programs offered by higher education or science organizations,
3. Science-specific programs offered by higher education institutions, and
4. Intern programs that allow teachers to earn their teaching credential while they complete their first year of teaching.
Dr. Luft's research concentrates on providing the details that give insights into why newly qualified science teachers are leaving or persisting in the profession and how induction programs affect their beliefs and practices. The research questions for this study are:
1. Do induction programs make a difference in the retention of secondary science teachers during their fourth and fifth year?
2. What characterizations can be made about teachers who persist, their performance, and the assistance they receive?
3. How do beginning science teachers develop over their first five years? How do induction programs contribute to this development?
Data collection includes 8 interviews and 2 classroom observations of each teacher. The CETP-COP and Oregon Teacher Observation Protocol are used for classroom observations. Quantitative data analysis utilizes ANOVAs and HLM, to be followed by a qualitative analysis exploring the findings.
The research team is based at Arizona State University and includes Dr. Luft, Dr. Marilyn Thompson, five graduate students and one undergraduate student. The products will include papers submitted to professional journals, postings to the Arizona Science Coordinators Association listserv, and direct dissemination to school administrators and local meetings.
The impacts will be increased understanding of induction programs, what they achieve and what characteristics are effective. This will help policy makers and administrators modify the programs for increased effectiveness. Given the high rate of teachers leaving the profession during the first five years and the popularity of induction programs, the primary impact would be increased retention of quality teachers.
This project is comparing and evaluating different models for the delivery of online professional development aimed at elementary science teachers. The focus is on asynchronous (anytime, anywhere) and minimally facilitated models, because these approaches hold promise for reaching large numbers of teachers in a cost-effective way. The research capitalizes on experiences with BCM's award-winning, high traffic website for educators, BioEd Online.
Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA) Professional Development Program: Scaling for Effectiveness
This is a full research and development project addressing challenge question: How can promising innovations be successfully implemented, sustained, and scaled in schools and districts? The promising innovation is the Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA) professional development (PD) program, which supports 4th- and 5th-grade teachers in teaching concepts in biology (food webs), physical science (phase changes), and earth science (earth’s changing surface, weather).
This project is implementing a program of professional development for teachers and web interface that links scientists with urban classrooms. Scientist mentors work with students and teachers through the web to carry out an original \"authentic\" inquiry project in plant science. The classroom intervention involves high school biology students working in assigned teams to generate their own research questions in plant science centered on core biology concepts from the National Science Education Standards.
Project Publications and Presentations:
Hemingway, Claire & Packard, Carol (2011, April). Seeds of Wonder and Discovery. Science Scope, v. 34 (8), p. 38.
This exploratory research and development project addresses the question, "Can students develop an understanding of the ecological nature of science (ENOS) in high school biology and environmental science classes that is useful and productive in environmental citizenship?\" To address this question, the project will identify the essential elements of ENOS, investigate how these can be taught and learned, and explore how ENOS skills and understandings are used to enhance environmental citizenship.
The primary goal of the project is to enhance secondary mathematics teacher education for pre-service teachers by developing, implementing and disseminating resources from a four-course curriculum that brings together the study of mathematics content and pedagogy. Three of the courses are problem-based technology enhanced (PBTE) courses in Algebra and Calculus, Geometry, and Probability and Statistics. A fourth course is a capstone course in Teaching and Learning Secondary School Mathematics.
This project addresses biology teachers and students at the high school level, responding to the exponential increases occurring in biology knowledge today and the need for students to understand the experimental basis behind biology concepts. The project studies the feasibility of engaging students in an environment where they can learn firsthand how science knowledge develops in the fields of bioinformatics and DNA science by performing collaborative, simulated experiments to solve open-ended problems.
The project makes use of technology to create timely, valid, and actionable reports to teachers by analyzing assessments and logs of student actions generated in the course of using computer-based curriculum materials. The reports allow teachers to make data-based decisions about alternative teaching strategies. The technology supports student collaborations and the assignment of different learning activities to groups, an essential function needed for universal design for learning (UDL).