In this project, investigators will convene a group of 15 African American science educators, scientists, and doctoral student scholars and assign them to small work groups to design and conduct multi-site micro-research studies on learning activities that promote science learning and teaching. Work groups will investigate different learning and teaching approaches used in K-12 rural and urban school settings to identify effects on student science learning using quantitative, qualitative, or mixed design studies.
Utilizing a conference and work group format, project investigators will convene a group of 15 African American science educators, scientists, and doctoral student scholars and assign them to small work groups to design and conduct multi-site micro-research studies on learning activities that promote elementary, middle school, and secondary science learning and teaching. A mentoring network will be established among project participants, as well, partnering experienced educators and scientists with upcoming scholars. Work groups will investigate different learning and teaching approaches used in K-12 rural and urban school settings to identify effects on student science learning using quantitative, qualitative, or mixed design studies.
The project goal is the development of a network of science education faculty members to conduct research on issues related to science learning and teaching of rural and urban students in the United States; to develop and conduct multi-site micro-research studies leading to successful scholarly publications on science learning and teaching effectiveness; to increase numbers of African American science education and science faculty members from traditionally White and Historically Black Colleges and Universities who are prepared to design and conduct rigorous research studies on science teaching and learning and to seek funding for their projects.
The project design includes a summer 2013 mini-symposium that will employ breakout sessions, plenary speakers, and work group time for the design of multi-site micro-research studies and assistance with Institutional Review Board applications. During the 2013-14 academic year, the work groups will stay in contact via electronic media as studies are conducted following the summer mini-symposium. The second symposium will take place during the 2014 National Association for Research in Science Teaching international meeting so that teams can analyze data, prepare ideas for funding projects, and begin to prepare journal articles and other means to disseminate findings. Formative and summative project evaluation will take place at different stages of the project, including one year from project completion, to determine if the project made satisfactory progress in meeting its three goals.
The studies on effective science learning and teaching strategies in different school settings will eventually provide students access to more innovative science instructional materials and science instruction. This access is paramount if students are to understand science concepts and ideas and engage in meaningful scientific data collection, analysis, and interpretation. When students experience effective science activities, especially at the middle school level, there is a greater likelihood they will perform well in science and may consider science-related college majors and careers.
Two critical areas in science education will be positively affected by this project: instructional practices in K-12 schools and the number of African American science educators and scientists conducting research, especially funded projects. Understanding science practices that are most innovative and effective in K-12 rural and urban classrooms will lead to increased student science literacy, achievement, and pursuit of science careers. These practices will be refined and shared across school systems. Collaborative research efforts advanced by the mentoring network will result in a group of science and science education scholars who can continue to build on the work begun during this project as they complete their initial round of conference paper presentations, manuscripts for publication consideration, and grant proposals.