Providing undergraduate science partners for elementary teachers: benefits and challenges.
ABSTRACT: Undergraduate college "science partners" provided content knowledge and a supportive atmosphere for K-5 teachers in a university-school professional development partnership program in science instruction. The Elementary Science Education Partners program, a Local Systemic Change initiative supported by the National Science Foundation, was composed of four major elements: 1) a cadre of mentor teachers trained to provide district-wide teacher professional development; 2) a recruitment and training effort to place college students in classrooms as science partners in semester-long partnerships with teachers; 3) a teacher empowerment effort termed "participatory reform"; and 4) an inquiry-based curriculum with a kit distribution and refurbishment center. The main goals of the program were to provide college science students with an intensive teaching experience and to enhance teachers' skills in inquiry-based science instruction. Here, we describe some of the program's successes and challenges, focusing primarily on the impact on the classroom teachers and their science partners. Qualitative analyses of data collected from participants indicate that 1) teachers expressed greater self-confidence about teaching science than before the program and they spent more class time on the subject; and 2) the college students modified deficit-model negative assumptions about the children's science learning abilities to express more mature, positive views.
Project description:New approaches for teaching and assessing scientific inquiry and practices are essential for guiding students to make the informed decisions required of an increasingly complex and global society. The Science Skills approach described here guides students to develop an understanding of the experimental skills required to perform a scientific investigation. An individual teacher's investigation of the strategies and tools she designed to promote scientific inquiry in her classroom is outlined. This teacher-driven action research in the high school biology classroom presents a simple study design that allowed for reciprocal testing of two simultaneous treatments, one that aimed to guide students to use vocabulary to identify and describe different scientific practices they were using in their investigations-for example, hypothesizing, data analysis, or use of controls-and another that focused on scientific collaboration. A knowledge integration (KI) rubric was designed to measure how students integrated their ideas about the skills and practices necessary for scientific inquiry. KI scores revealed that student understanding of scientific inquiry increased significantly after receiving instruction and using assessment tools aimed at promoting development of specific inquiry skills. General strategies for doing classroom-based action research in a straightforward and practical way are discussed, as are implications for teaching and evaluating introductory life sciences courses at the undergraduate level.
Project description:Inquiry-based teaching approaches are increasingly being adopted in biology laboratories. Yet teaching assistants (TAs), often novice teachers, teach the majority of laboratory courses in US research universities. This study analyzed the perspectives of TAs and their students and used classroom observations to uncover challenges faced by TAs during their first year of inquiry-based teaching. Our study revealed three insights about barriers to effective inquiry teaching practices: 1) TAs lack sufficient facilitation skills; 2) TAs struggle to share control over learning with students as they reconcile long-standing teaching beliefs with newly learned approaches, consequently undermining their fledgling ability to use inquiry approaches; and 3) student evaluations reinforce teacher-centered behaviors as TAs receive positive feedback conflicting with inquiry approaches. We make recommendations, including changing instructional feedback to focus on learner-centered teaching practices. We urge TA mentors to engage TAs in discussions to uncover teaching beliefs underlying teaching choices and support TAs through targeted feedback and practice.
Project description:Teaching large numbers of students can be a challenge for both teachers and students. Implementing new teaching strategies may be 1 way to address the problem. This article presents the impact of using Gagne's 9 events of instruction on student learning and course evaluations over a 3-semester period. Student evaluations indicated enhanced teacher mastery, effectiveness, and enthusiasm. Overall student final grades increased.
Project description:Considerable research has demonstrated that teachers' self-efficacy plays a major role in implementing instructional practices. Only few studies, however, have examined the interplay between how teachers' self-efficacy and the challenges that lie outside their influence are related to their implementation of cognitive-activation strategies (CASs), especially in science classrooms. Using the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study 2015 data from science teachers in Grades 4, 5, 8, and 9, we explored the extent to which teachers' self-efficacy in science teaching and the perceived time constraints explained variations in the enactment of general and inquiry-based CAS. Findings from the overall sample showed that highly self-efficacious teachers reported more frequent implementation of both general and inquiry-based CAS, whereas those who perceived strong time constraints reported a less frequent use of inquiry-based CAS. These relationships also existed across grade levels, except on the relations between perceived time constraint and inquiry-based CAS, which was only significant for the science teachers in Grade 9. We discuss these findings in light of variations in the core competencies of science curriculum, teachers' competences, and the resources for science activities between primary and secondary education. We also point to the theoretical implications of this study for enhancing the conceptual understanding of generic and specific aspects of CAS and the practical implications for teacher education, professional development, and educational policy.
Project description:Examining the nature of teachers' emotions and how they are managed and regulated in the act of teaching is crucial to assess the quality of teachers' instruction. Despite the essential role emotions play in teachers' lives and instruction, research on teachers' emotions has not paid much attention on teachers' emotions in the context of daily teaching. This paper explored elementary teachers' emotions while preparing for teaching and during teaching mathematics, reasons that underlie these emotions, and the relationship between their emotions and the quality of their mathematics instruction. Participants were seven elementary teachers working in the U.S. who participated in Holistic Individualized Coaching (HIC) professional development that consisted of five cycles of coaching over an year. For each coaching cycle, pre-coaching conversation and post-coaching conversation data were collected regarding emotions teachers felt in anticipation of teaching and during teaching retrospectively. In order to compare teachers' emotions with instructional quality, coaching sessions were video recorded and analyzed to determine the quality of instruction. Findings of this study showed that teachers reported six categories of emotions (positive, negative, neutral, blended-positive, blended-negative, and mixed), described emotions often in non-typical ways (e.g., "not nervous", "anxious but in a positive way"), and experienced mixed emotions (co-occcurence of positive and negative emotions) as the most dominant emotion. Teachers also had more positive emotions anticipating teaching than actually teaching the lesson. The reason teachers felt mixed emotions reflected the complex and context-specific nature of teaching, a phenonemenon not currently described in the teacher emotion literature. There were no clear relationships between emotional experiences and instructional quality. This study allowed participants to freely describe their authentic, complex, overlapping, and ambiguous emotions in the context of active teaching, which contributes opening up the possibilities of diversifying teacher emotion research and shows the significance and usefulness of understanding teachers' emotions related to active instruction.
Project description:Teaching the Genome Generation (TtGG) is a teacher professional development program and set of high school biology lessons that support interwoven classroom instruction of molecular genetics, bioinformatics, and bioethics. Participating teachers from across New England implement the modular elements of program at a high rate in a variety of biology classrooms. Evaluation data collected over three academic years (2014/15 to 2016/17) indicate that TtGG has increased teachers' abilities to integrate complex concepts of genomics and bioethics into their high school classes.
Project description:The process of developing effective science educators has been a long-standing objective of the broader education community. Numerous studies have recommended not only depth in a teacher's subject area but also a breadth of professional development grounded in constructivist principles, allowing for successful student-centered and inquiry-based instruction. Few programs, however, have addressed the integration of the scientific research laboratory into the science classroom as a viable approach to professional development. Additionally, while occasional laboratory training programs have emerged in recent years, many lack a component for translating acquired skills into reformed classroom instruction. Given the rapid development and demand for knowledgeable employees and an informed population from the biotech and medical industries in recent years, it would appear to be particularly advantageous for the physiology and broader science education communities to consider this issue. The goal of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a laboratory-based professional development program focused on the integration of reformed teaching principles into the classrooms of secondary teachers. This was measured through the program's ability to instill in its participants elevated academic success while gaining fulfillment in the classroom. The findings demonstrated a significant improvement in the use of student-centered instruction and other reformed methods by program participants as well as improved self-efficacy, confidence, and job satisfaction. Also revealed was a reluctance to refashion established classroom protocols. The combination of these outcomes allowed for construction of an experiential framework for professional development in applied science education that supports an atmosphere of reformed teaching in the classroom.
Project description:Personalized learning is tailored to each student's strengths and needs. For personalized learning in the classroom, feedback is an essential part, which can provide useful guidance on how to improve learning and/or teaching. Based on the cognitive diagnosis theory, the Chinese Learning Diagnosis System (CLDS) offers timely feedback on student learning and teacher instruction. This study mainly describes the feedback of the CLDS in two parts. Part I introduces the feedback reports of the CLDS, and part II illustrates its application effectiveness in learning and teaching. Based on students' mastery of an attribute, teachers can modify their teaching contents and schedules, and students have the opportunity to remedy their learning by themselves. As to the application effectiveness of the CLDS, the experiment results show that students enrolled in the experimental school with CLDS in 2012 had a significant improvement in their self-efficacy and achievement. Furthermore, most teachers pointed out that instructional time used for classroom unit tests was reduced by one third to one half, allowing them plenty of time to provide more detailed and individualized instructions to students.
Project description:Few questionnaires have been developed to screen for potentially poor implementers of school-based interventions. This study combines teacher characteristics, perceptions, and teaching/training experiences to develop a short screening tool that can identify potential "low-performing" or "high-performing" teachers pre-implementation. Data were gathered from 208 teachers and 4,411 students who participated in the national implementation of an evidence-based HIV intervention in The Bahamas. Sensitivity and specificity were evaluated for the detection of "low-performing" and "high-performing" teachers. The validity of the screening tool was assessed using receiver operating characteristics analysis. The School Pre-implementation Screening Tool consists of seven predictive factors: duration as teacher, working site, attendance at training workshops, training in interactive teaching, perceived importance of the intervention, comfort in teaching the curriculum, and program priority. The sensitivity and specificity were 74% and 57% in identifying "low-performing" teachers and 81% and 65% with "high-performing" teachers. The screening tool demonstrated an acceptable/good validity (area under the receiver operating characteristics curve was 0.68 for "low-performing teachers" and 0.78 for "high-performing" teachers). Our brief screening tool can facilitate teacher training and recruitment of engaged teachers in implementation of school-based interventions.
Project description:The physical activity levels of children in Australia are critically low and correlate with reduced academic achievement and poor health outcomes. Schools provide an ideal setting for physical activity interventions to help children move more. Instead of targeting in-service teachers, this study embedded an evidence-based active pedagogy program called Transform-Ed! into pre-service teacher education. Pre/post surveys and post-program interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with key stakeholders (n = 5), lecturers (n = 6), and pre-service teachers (n = 274) involved with the 12-week program. The design, implementation, and evaluation of the study were systematically guided by all five dimensions of Glasgow and colleagues' RE-AIM (reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance) framework. Linear mixed models, descriptive analysis and a framework approach were used to analyse the data. Significant improvements were observed in pre-service teachers' willingness, confidence, and competence to implement physically active pedagogic strategies following the intervention. Pre-service teacher perceived effectiveness of such strategies on student outcomes also significantly increased and perceived barriers decreased. High adherence was consistently reported and the program was maintained after completion of the implementation trial by all lecturers. Four key themes spanning multiple dimensions and participant levels informed recommendations for program scalability: an "inter-systemic approach", a "co-design" approach, "embedded in professional practice", and "evidence of impact" on teacher practice. Anchored in real-world settings and tethered by implementation science, Transform-Ed! could have the potential to advance the teaching capability of teachers, and transform the learning experience and physical and academic outcomes of primary school students.