Professional Development

An Examination of Science and Technology Teachers' Conceptual Learning Through Concept-Based Engineering Professional Development

This project will determine the viability of an engineering concept-based approach to teacher professional development for secondary school science teachers in life science and in physical science. The project refines the conceptual base for engineering at the secondary level learning to increase the understanding of engineering concepts by the science teachers. The hypothesis is that when teachers and students engage with engineering design activities their understanding of science concepts and inquiry are also enhanced.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1158615
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Mon, 10/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Karen Peterman
Full Description: 

Technology educators from Black Hills State University and Purdue University partner with science educators from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and Stevens Institute of Technology to determine the viability of an engineering concept-based approach to teacher professional development for secondary school science teachers in life science and in physical science. The project refines the conceptual base for engineering at the secondary level learning (previously developed by the PIs) to increase the understanding of engineering concepts by the science teachers. In a pilot test of two weeks of professional development with ten teachers from each discipline, teachers become familiar with engineering concepts and study the process of infusing engineering concepts into science curricula so that they can develop modules in their discipline to be taught during the following in the school year. The following summer the teachers debrief the process and develop additional modules for their discipline. The process is revised and repeated with 22 teachers from each discipline. Teachers are explicitly provided strategies to help them meet the needs of diverse learners. The outputs of this project include: 1) a preliminary framework for secondary level engineering education to be published in both research and practitioner journals; 2) a pilot tested and validated Engineering Concept Assessment; 3) engineering-infused curriculum modules in life and physical science; and 4) a professional development model to prepare science teachers to infuse engineering in their teaching.

The project compares student learning when particular concepts in physics and biology are taught through engineering design with learning the same concepts taught an earlier group of students with present reform techniques used in the discipline. The hypothesis is that when teachers and students engage with engineering design activities their understanding of science concepts and inquiry are also enhanced. The research component of the project employs an iterative design with the design of activities followed by development and implementation. An engineering concept assessment is developed and tested to examine teacher learning and to determine how engineering concepts can be infused into the science curricula for life and physical science. Other quantitative and qualitative instruments are developed to assess the teachers? understandings of the engineering concepts and their pedagogical implications.

There is increasing emphasis on integrative STEM education. New national and international assessments are developing engineering strands and emphasizing non-routine problem solving. The framework for the Next Generation Science Standards includes engineering as one of four strands. Stand alone engineering course are not likely to be widely used. This project develops engineering infused science units and determines the professional development needed to use them effectively.

Computer-Supported Math Discourse Among Teachers and Students (Collaborative Research: Powell)

This project will design, develop, and test an online collaborative learning environment where students and teachers solve mathematical problems and communicate their thinking.  This online collaborative learning environment will help increase the quality and quantity of math discourse among mathematics teachers and students.  The researchers will also examine the impact of the online collaborative learning environment on students' significant mathematical discourse and achievement.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118888
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Fri, 08/31/2018
Full Description: 

This full research and development project is to design, develop, and test a cutting-edge learning environment where students and teachers solve mathematical problems and communicate their thinking with others through the virtual environment. The major focus is to increase the quality and quantity of significant math discourse among mathematics teachers and their students by using the virtual learning environment. The researchers will test the usability of the learning environment for engaging students in high quality discourse. The researchers will also examine the impact of the virtual learning environment on student significant mathematical discourse and achievement.

The project uses a design research method as well as summative evaluations to achieve research and development goals. Mixed methods will be used to examine the impact of the virtual learning environment on student significant mathematical discourse and achievement.

The findings of the project contribute to the field in three ways: (1) The virtual learning environment can be both an effective pedagogical tool and a research tool in mathematics education; (2) It will contribute to our understanding about the nature of mathematical discourse online as well as about ways to foster the quality and quantity of significant math discourse among teachers and their students; and (3) This project can provide insights into effective online deliveries of courses.

Ready for Robotics: The Missing T and E of STEM in Early Childhood Education

The project investigates the use of robotics into early childhood education. It address two objectives: to develop and evaluate a low-cost, developmentally appropriate robotic construction kit specifically designed for early childhood education (PreK-2) and to pilot a robotics-based professional development model for early childhood educators to teach engineering and technology.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118897
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Sun, 08/31/2014
Full Description: 

The project investigates the use of robotics into early childhood education. It address two objectives: to develop and evaluate a low-cost, developmentally appropriate robotic construction kit specifically designed for early childhood education (PreK-2) and to pilot a robotics-based professional development model for early childhood educators to teach engineering and technology. A number of research questions are included. To what extent did participating teachers gained knowledge about robotics, engineering and programming, and pedagogies? To what extent have they increased their familiarity of, comfort with, and understanding of the use of robotics in early childhood? To what extent participating in the institute can support the passage from knowledge to action? What processes/standards are used by early childhood teachers to integrate engineering and technology into their traditional curriculum? Do teachers adopt the robotics kit and curriculum for their classrooms? How do they adapt it to their own practices? What are the factors that predict successful outcomes in terms of adoption and adaptation? To what extent has the teaching practice of the teachers changed in a way that demonstrates understanding of the role of T and E in early childhood education?

Robotics provides a playful bridge to make early childhood programs more academically challenging while honoring the importance of play in the developmental trajectory. The assumption is that young children can become engineers by playing with gears, levers, motors, sensors; and programmers by exploring sequences, loops and variables. Robotics can be a gateway for children to learn about applied mathematical concepts, the scientific method of inquiry, and problem solving. Moreover, working with robotic manipulatives engages children in social interactions and negotiations while playing to learn and learning to play.

For robotics to be successfully integrated into the early childhood classroom, there are three factors that need to be considered: the robotics technology needs to be developmentally appropriate and low-cost; and teachers should be exposed to professional development. This project addresses these issues. It contributes to the emerging field of robotics in education by addressing the needs of an educational segment, early childhood, where there is a lack of new technologies and approaches to teach technology and engineering in a developmentally appropriate way.

An Innovative Approach to Earth Science Teacher Preparation: Uniting Science, Informal Science Education, and Schools to Raise Student Achievement

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City, in partnership with New York University, and in collaboration with five high-needs schools, is developing, implementing, and researching a five-year pilot Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program in Earth Science. The program is delivered by the Museum's scientific and education teams and its evaluation covers aspects of the program from recruitment to first year of teaching.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1119444
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Thu, 08/31/2017
Project Evaluator: 
David Silvernail, Center for Education and Policy, University of Southern Maine
Full Description: 

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), in collaboration with New York University's Institute for Education and Social Policy and the University of Southern Maine Center for Evaluation and Policy, will develop and evaluate a new teacher education program model to prepare science teachers through a partnership between a world class science museum and high need schools in metropolitan New York City (NYC). This innovative pilot residency model was approved by the New York State (NYS) Board of Regents as part of the state’s Race To The Top award. The program will prepare a total of 50 candidates in two cohorts (2012 and 2013) to earn a Board of Regents-awarded Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree with a specialization in Earth Science for grades 7-12. The program focuses on Earth Science both because it is one of the greatest areas of science teacher shortages in urban areas and because AMNH has the ability to leverage the required scientific and educational resources in Earth Science and allied disciplines, including paleontology and astrophysics.

The proposed 15-month, 36-credit residency program is followed by two additional years of mentoring for new teachers. In addition to a full academic year of residency in high-needs public schools, teacher candidates will undertake two AMNH-based clinical summer residencies; a Museum Teaching Residency prior to entering their host schools, and a Museum Science Residency prior to entering the teaching profession. All courses will be taught by teams of doctoral-level educators and scientists.

The project’s research and evaluation components will examine the factors and outcomes of a program offered through a science museum working with the formal teacher preparation system in high need schools. Formative and summative evaluations will document all aspects of the program. In light of the NYS requirement that the pilot program be implemented in high-need, low-performing schools, this project has the potential to engage, motivate and improve the Earth Science achievement and interest in STEM careers of thousands of students from traditionally underrepresented populations including English language learners, special education students, and racial minority groups. In addition, this project will gather meaningful data on the role science museums can play in preparing well-qualified Earth Science teachers. The research component will examine the impact of this new teacher preparation model on student achievement in metropolitan NYC schools. More specifically, this project asks, "How do Earth Science students taught by first year AMNH MAT Earth Science teachers perform academically in comparison with students taught by first year Earth Science teachers not prepared in the AMNH program?.”

Energy: A Multidisciplinary Approach for Teachers (EMAT) Designing and Studying a Multidisciplinary, Online Course for High School Teachers

This project will iteratively design, develop, field test, refine, and rigorously study a six-unit, facilitated, online professional development (PD) course focusing on energy-related concepts in the context of alternative energy. The primary audience is high school science teachers teaching out of their field of endorsement and serving students underrepresented in the sciences. The project will investigate whether the PD will precipitate changes in teacher knowledge and practice that result in higher student achievement.

Award Number: 
1118643
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Thu, 08/31/2017
Project Evaluator: 
RMC Research Corporation
Full Description: 

The Energy: A Multidisciplinary Approach for Teachers (EMAT) project will iteratively design, develop, field test, refine, and rigorously study a seven-unit, facilitated, online professional development (PD) course focusing on energy-related concepts in the context of alternative energy. The primary audience is high school science teachers teaching out of their field of endorsement and serving students underrepresented in the sciences. The project will investigate whether the PD will precipitate changes in teacher knowledge and practice that result in higher student achievement. As a result, EMAT will improve the science achievement of underrepresented students and enhance their future participation in science. Biological Sciences Curriculum Study and partners Oregon Public Broadcasting, the National Teacher Enhancement Network, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, and RMC Research Corporation bring significant resources and are highly qualified to develop and research EMAT.

The EMAT project advances knowledge in the field of teacher professional development by merging two facets of PD that have hitherto been studied separately and testing hypotheses about the degree to which this pairing enhances learning and practice. These facets are structured constructivist experiences and experiences grounded in situated cognition learning theory. Teachers reflect on research-based teaching practices in the lesson analysis process through Science Content Storyline and Student Thinking lenses. EMAT tests longitudinal impacts on teachers' content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and teaching practices and students' content knowledge, contributing much needed data for future PD projects. EMAT also studies which aspects of online environments are most effective for teachers. Data collected will inform full revisions of the course and will help address significant gaps in our understanding of online PD.

EMAT advances the field's understanding of which elements of online PD are effective and the extent to which high-quality online PD translates to improved student learning. Simultaneously, the project develops and tests a scalable, flexible resource to enhance teacher learning and practice. As a result, EMAT will have a broad impact by promoting research-based teaching and learning while advancing discovery and understanding. Furthermore, by targeting the recruitment of teacher participants from large urban districts with high numbers of teachers teaching out of field, EMAT impacts students traditionally underrepresented in the sciences. EMAT will not only contribute to the research on PD, but also will be available for use in diverse settings. A facilitation guide allows the course to be freely used by school districts and teacher education and certification programs across the country. In addition, the facilitated course will be offered for graduate credit through the National Teacher Enhancement Network and will be freely available to individuals for independent study. Results of all research and evaluation will be published in science education journals and practitioner journals for teachers, and presented to PD groups at conferences. EMAT will benefit society by impacting teacher and student understanding of energy-related concepts, thereby increasing the capacity of U.S. citizens to creatively address energy challenges from a foundation of scientifically sound knowledge.

Overcoming Obstacles to Scaling-Up with a Cyberlearning Professional Development Model (Collaborative Research: Zahm)

This project will develop and test a cyberlearning professional-development model that builds on the successful Curriculum Customization Service model implemented in Denver with EarthComm. The cyberlearning system is tested with the Project Based Inquiry Science (PBIS) curriculum - a proven comprehensive middle school science curriculum. The cyberlearning system is evaluated for scalability, affordability, flexibility, and effectiveness for changing teacher practice and student learning.

Award Number: 
1551474
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Full Description: 

It's About Time publishers in collaboration with the University of Colorado at Boulder develop and test a cyberlearning professional-development model that builds on the successful Curriculum Customization Service model implemented in Denver with EarthComm. The cyberlearning system is tested with the Project Based Inquiry Science (PBIS) curriculum - a proven comprehensive middle school science curriculum. In the first two years, six unit-specific materials, curriculum implementation webinars, electronic teacher editions, and teacher planning guide software are developed with teacher input and tested. In the third year, forty middle school teachers nationwide use the cyberlearning system. The learning of their students is compared to students of teachers who had other professional development. The cyberlearning system is evaluated for scalability, affordability, flexibility, and effectiveness for changing teacher practice and student learning.

In the first two years ethnographic studies done by WestEd inform the project about how teachers use the cyberlearning system and which parts are most efficacious. At the same time WestEd collects data of student learning and classroom practice from teachers who have had traditional professional development offered by the publishers. At the same time, data are gathered about student learning in classes whose teachers receive traditional professional development. These teachers form a matched control group for the teachers engaged in cyberlearning professional development in the third year. Their student learning data are compared to the learning of students whose teachers are engaged in the cyberlearning professional development. The research is evaluated by three members of the Advisory Board who have credentials in research methodology, content and broadening participation.

Effective implementation of reform-based STEM curricula depends upon curriculum-based, consistent and well developed professional development. Scaling-up to a broad-based national market is logistically constrained by traditional face-to-face professional development. The project will lead to a tested, useful, affordable, and effective system on-line system to support teacher implementation of reform science curricula that will be used by It's About Time publishers and will be available to others. The results disseminated in the research and practitioner literature can transform the professional development provided by publishers of reform science materials.

Fomerly award number 1119202.

Overcoming Obstacles to Scaling-Up with a Cyberlearning Professional Development Model (Collaborative Research: Sumner)

This project will develop and test a cyberlearning professional-development model that builds on the successful Curriculum Customization Service model implemented in Denver with EarthComm. The cyberlearning system is tested with the Project Based Inquiry Science (PBIS) curriculum - a proven comprehensive middle school science curriculum. The cyberlearning system is evaluated for scalability, affordability, flexibility, and effectiveness for changing teacher practice and student learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118392
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Full Description: 

It's About Time publishers in collaboration with the University of Colorado at Boulder develop and test a cyberlearning professional-development model that builds on the successful Curriculum Customization Service model implemented in Denver with EarthComm. The cyberlearning system is tested with the Project Based Inquiry Science (PBIS) curriculum - a proven comprehensive middle school science curriculum. In the first two years, six unit-specific materials, curriculum implementation webinars, electronic teacher editions, and teacher planning guide software are developed with teacher input and tested. In the third year, forty middle school teachers nationwide use the cyberlearning system. The learning of their students is compared to students of teachers who had other professional development. The cyberlearning system is evaluated for scalability, affordability, flexibility, and effectiveness for changing teacher practice and student learning.

In the first two years ethnographic studies done by WestEd inform the project about how teachers use the cyberlearning system and which parts are most efficacious. At the same time WestEd collects data of student learning and classroom practice from teachers who have had traditional professional development offered by the publishers. At the same time, data are gathered about student learning in classes whose teachers receive traditional professional development. These teachers form a matched control group for the teachers engaged in cyberlearning professional development in the third year. Their student learning data are compared to the learning of students whose teachers are engaged in the cyberlearning professional development. The research is evaluated by three members of the Advisory Board who have credentials in research methodology, content and broadening participation.

Effective implementation of reform-based STEM curricula depends upon curriculum-based, consistent and well developed professional development. Scaling-up to a broad-based national market is logistically constrained by traditional face-to-face professional development. The project will lead to a tested, useful, affordable, and effective system on-line system to support teacher implementation of reform science curricula that will be used by It's About Time publishers and will be available to others. The results disseminated in the research and practitioner literature can transform the professional development provided by publishers of reform science materials.

Multiple Instrumental Case Studies of Inclusive STEM-Focused High Schools: Opportunity Structures for Preparation and Inspiration (OSPrl)

The aim of this project is to examine opportunity structures provided to students by inclusive STEM-focused high schools, with an emphasis on studying schools that serve students from underrepresented groups. The project is studying inclusive STEM-focused high schools across the United States to determine what defines them. The research team initially identified ten candidate critical components that define STEM-focused high schools and is refining and further clarifying the critical components through the research study.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118851
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

The aim of this project is to examine opportunity structures provided to students by inclusive STEM-focused high schools, with an emphasis on studying schools that serve students from underrepresented groups. In contrast to highly selective STEM-focused schools that target students who are already identified as gifted and talented in STEM, inclusive STEM-focused high schools aim to develop new sources of STEM talent, particularly among underrepresented minority students, to improve workforce development and prepare STEM professionals. A new NRC report, Successful K-12 STEM Education (2011), identifies areas in which research on STEM-focused schools is most needed. The NRC report points out the importance of providing opportunities for groups that are underrepresented in the sciences, especially Blacks, Hispanics, and low-income students who disproportionately fall out of the high-achieving group in K-12 education. This project responds specifically to the call for research in the NRC report and provides systematic data to define and clarify the nature of such schools. 

The project is studying inclusive STEM-focused high schools across the United States to determine what defines them. The research team initially identified ten candidate critical components that define STEM-focused high schools and is refining and further clarifying the critical components through the research study. The first phase of the study is focusing on 12 well-established and carefully planned schools with good reputations and strong community and business support, in order to capture the critical components as intended and implemented. Case studies of these high-functioning schools and a cross-case analysis using a set of instruments for gauging STEM design and implementation are contributing toward building a theory of action for such schools that can be applied more generally to STEM education. The second phase of the study involves selecting four school models for further study, focusing on student-level experiences and comparing student outcomes against comprehensive schools in the same district. Research questions being studied include: 1) Is there a core set of likely critical components shared by well-established, promising inclusive STEM-focused high schools? Do other components emerge from the study? 2) How are the critical components implemented in each school? 3) What are the contextual affordances and constraints that influence schools' designs, their implementation, and student outcomes? 4) How do student STEM outcomes in these schools compare with school district and state averages? 5) How do four promising such schools compare with matched comprehensive high schools within their respective school districts, and how are the critical components displayed? 6) From the points of view of students underrepresented in STEM fields, how do education experiences at the schools and their matched counterparts compare? And 7) How do student outcomes compare?

The research uses a multiple instrumental case study design in order to describe and compare similar phenomena. Schools as critical cases are being selected through a nomination process by experts, followed by screening and categorization according to key design dimensions. Data sources include school documents and public database information; a survey, followed by telephone interviews that probe for elaborated information, to provide a systematic overview of the candidate components; on-site visitations to each school provide data on classroom observations at the schools; interviews with students, teachers and administrators in focus groups; and discussions with critical members of the school community that provide unique opportunities to learn such as mentors, business leaders, and members of higher education community that provide outside of school learning experiences. The project is also gathering data on a variety of school-level student outcome indicators, and is tracking the likely STEM course trajectories for students, graduation rates, and college admission rates for students in the inclusive STEM-focused schools, as compared to other schools in the same jurisdiction. Analysis of the first phase of the study aims to develop rich descriptions that showcase characteristics of the schools, using axial and open coding, to determine a theory of action that illustrates interconnections among context, design, implementation, and outcome elements. Analysis of the second phase of the study involves similar processes on four levels: school, student, databases, and a synthesis of the three. Evaluation of the project consists of an internal advisory board and an external advisory board, both of which provide primarily formative feedback on research procedures.

Research findings, as well as case studies, records of instrument and rubric development and use, annual reports, and conference proposals and papers are being provided on a website, in order to provide an immediate and ongoing resource for education leaders, researchers and policymakers to learn about research on these schools and particular models. An effort is also being made to give voice to the experiences of high school students from the four pairs of high schools studied in the second phase of the study. Findings are also being disseminated by more traditional means, such as papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference presentations.

Promoting Science Among English Language Learners (P-SELL) Scale-Up

This effectiveness study focuses on the scale-up of a model of curricular and teacher professional development intervention aimed at improving science achievement of all students, especially English language learners (ELLs). The model consists of three basic components: (a) inquiry-oriented science curriculum, (b) teacher professional development for science instruction with these students, and (c) school resources for science instruction.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1209309
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Fri, 07/31/2015
Project Evaluator: 
Lauren Scher
Full Description: 

This four-year effectiveness study focuses on the scale-up of a model of curricular and teacher professional development intervention aimed at improving science achievement of all students, especially English language learners (ELLs). The model consists of three basic components: (a) inquiry-oriented science curriculum, (b) teacher professional development for science instruction with these students, and (c) school resources for science instruction. The project's main goals are: (1) to evaluate the effect of the intervention on student achievement, (2) to determine the effect of the intervention on teacher knowledge, practices, and school resources, and (3) to assess how teacher knowledge, practices, and resources mediate student achievement. The project is conducted in the context of the Florida current science education policies and accountability system (e.g., adoption of the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards in Science, assessment of science at the fifth grade, a Race to the Top award state). The study draws on findings from research on a previous NSF-funded efficacy study (035331) in which the model to be scaled-up was tested in a single school district. The effectiveness study includes three (of 67) school districts as key partners, representative of racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse student populations; 64 elementary schools, 320 science teachers, and 24,000 fifth-grade students over a three-year period. Science learning is the primary subject matter, inclusive of life, physical, and earth/space sciences. Six research questions corresponding to three research areas guide the proposed scope of work. For the research area of Student Science Achievement, questions are: (1) What is the effect of the intervention on fifth-grade students' science achievement, compared to "business as usual"?, and (2) To what extent are the effects of the intervention moderated by students' English as a Second Language (ESOL) level, SES status, and racial/ethnic backgrounds? For Teacher Knowledge and Practices as a research area, questions are: (3) What is the effect of the intervention on teachers' science knowledge and teaching practices?, and (4) To what extent is students' science achievement predicted by school resources for science instruction? For School Resources for Science, questions are: (5) What is the effect of the intervention on school resources for science instruction?, and (6) To what extent is student achievement predicted by school resources for science instruction? To assess the effect of the intervention on students' and teachers' outcomes, a cluster-randomized-control trial is used, resulting in a total of 64 randomly selected schools (after stratifying them by school-level percent of ESOL and Free Reduced Lunch students). All science teachers and students from the 64 schools participate in the project: 32 in the treatment group (project curriculum for fifth grade, teacher professional development, and instructional resources), and 32 in the control group (district-adopted fifth-grade curriculum, no teacher professional development, and no instructional resources). To address the research area of Student Science Achievement, formative assessment items are used at the end of each curriculum unit, along with two equated forms of a project-developed science test (to be used as pre-and posttests) with both treatment and control groups, in addition to the Florida's Comprehensive Assessment Tests-Science. Data interpretation for this research area employs a set of three-level HLMs (students, nested in classrooms, nested in schools). To address the research area of Teacher Knowledge and Practices and School Resources for Science, the project uses three measures: (a) two equated forms of a 35-items test of teacher science knowledge, (b) a classroom observation instrument measuring third-party ratings of teacher knowledge and teaching practices, and (c) a questionnaire measuring teachers' self-reports of science knowledge and teaching practices. All measures are administered to both treatment and control groups. Data interpretation strategies include a series of HLMs with emphasis on the relevant teacher outcomes as a function of time, and of school-level mediating variables. External project evaluation is conducted by Concentric Research and Evaluation using quantitative and qualitative methods and addressing both formative and summative components. Project research findings contribute to the refinement of a model reflective of the new science standards in the State and the emerging national science standards. The value added of this effort consists of its potential to inform effective implementation of science curricula and teacher professional development in other learning settings, including ELLs and traditionally marginalized student populations at the elementary school level. It constitutes practically the only research study focused on the issue of scale-up and sustainability of effective science education practices with this student subpopulation, which has become prominent due to the dramatic growth of a racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse school-aged population, low levels of U.S. student science achievement, and the role of science and mathematics in current accountability systems nationwide.

Further Development and Testing of the Target Inquiry Model for Middle and High School Science Teacher Professional Development (Collaborative Research: Yezierski)

This project scales and further tests the Target Inquiry professional development model. The model involves teachers in three core experiences: 1) a research experience for teachers, 2) materials adaptation, and 3) an action research project. The original program was implemented with high school chemistry teachers, and was shown to result in significant increases, with large effect sizes, in teachers' understanding of science inquiry and quality of instruction, and in science achievement of those teachers' students.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118749
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Wed, 07/31/2013
Full Description: 

This project scales and further tests the Target Inquiry (TI) professional development model. The TI model involves teachers in three core experiences: 1) a research experience for teachers, 2) materials adaptation, and 3) an action research project. The original program was implemented with high school chemistry teachers at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), and was shown to result in significant increases, with large effect sizes, in teachers' understanding of science inquiry and quality of instruction, and in science achievement of those teachers' students. The scale-up and further testing would involve adding physics, biology and geology at Grand Valley State University, and implementing the program at Miami University (MU) with chemistry teachers. Three research questions will be studied:

1) How do the three TI core experiences influence in-service high school science teachers' (i) understanding of the nature of science; (ii) attitudes and beliefs about inquiry instruction; and (iii) classroom instructional methods in the derivatives of the TI model?

2) How does teacher participation in TI affect students' process skills (scientific reasoning and metacognition) and conceptual understanding of science in the derivatives of the TI model?

3) What are the challenges and solutions related to implementing TI in science disciplines beyond chemistry and in other regions?

The research design is quasi-experimental and longitudinal, incorporating implementation with research, and using quantitative and qualitative methods blended in a design research framework. A total of 54 middle and high school science teachers are being recruited for the study. The TI group is completing the TI program (N = 27; 15 at GVSU; 12 at MU) while the comparison group (same sizes and locations) is not. The comparison group is matched according to individual characteristics and school demographics. All teachers are being studied, along with their students, for 4 years (pre-program, post-RET, post-MA, post-AR/post-program). TI teachers are taking 15 credits of graduate level science courses over three years, including summers. Courses include a graduate seminar focused on preparing for the research experience, the research experience in a faculty member's science lab during the summer, application of research to teaching, action research project development, adaptation and evaluation of inquiry-focused curricula, and interpretation and analysis of classroom data from action research. Consistent feedback from professional development, teachers, and evaluation, including the previous implementation, contributes to a design-based approach. Teacher factors being studied include nature of science, inquiry teaching knowledge and beliefs, and quality of inquiry instruction. Student factors being studied include scientific reasoning; metacognition, self-efficacy, and learning processes in science; and content knowledge and conceptual understanding. Only established quantitative and qualitative instruments are being used. Quantitative analysis includes between-group comparisons by year on post-tests, with pre-tests as covariates, and multi-level models with students nested with teachers, and teachers within sites, with the teacher level as the primary unit of change. Trends over time between the treatment and comparison groups are being examined. The evaluation is using a combination of pre/post causal comparative quantitative measures and relevant qualitative data from project leaders and participants, as well as from the comparison group, to provide formative and summative evaluation input.

Outcomes of the project include documentation and understanding of the impacts on science teachers' instruction and student outcomes of research experiences for teachers when they are supported by materials adaptation and action research, and an understanding of what it takes to scale the model to different science disciplines and a different site. The project is also producing a website of instructional materials for middle and secondary science.

Pages

Subscribe to Professional Development