This project supports five graduate students with backgrounds in the natural and learning sciences as they achieve masters-level expertise in a science discipline and pursue coursework and complete dissertations in science education research. The program prepares them to 1) collaborate with educational and developmental psychologists and discipline-based science education researchers, and 2) to develop and teach courses that break down the traditional barriers between science teaching methods courses and science content courses for teachers.
The project has had three major areas of focus: (1) Offering professional development to help elementary and 6th grade teachers become more responsive teachers, attending and responding to their students' ideas and reasoning; (2) Developing web-based resources (both curriculum and case studies) to promote responsive teaching in science; and (3) research how both teachers and students progress in their ability to engage in science inquiry.
This project is based on the assumption that teachers often make modifications to curriculum; reordering, skipping or adding lessons, changing an "exploration" into a lecture, and so on. This project pursues three related questions: What types of modifications do teachers make (and why), which types of modifications best help students learn, and how do teachers' modifications change in response to professional development activities designed to help them become more attuned to students' thinking?