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- Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education
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- National Science Foundation
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Objective Over the past decade, we developed and studied a face-to-face video-based analysis-of-practice professional development (PD) model. In a cluster randomized trial, we found that the face-to-face model enhanced elementary science teacher knowledge and practice and resulted in important improvements to student science achievement (student treatment effect, d = 0.52; Taylor et al, 2017; Roth et al, 2018). The face-to-face PD model is expensive and difficult to scale. In this paper, we present the results of a two-year design-based research study to translate the face-to-face PD into a facilitated online PD experience. The purpose is to create an effective, flexible, and cost-efficient PD model that will reach a broader audience of teachers. Perspective/Theoretical Framework The face-to-face PD model is grounded in situated cognition and cognitive apprenticeship frameworks. Teachers engage in learning science content and effective science teaching practices in the context in which they will be teaching. There are scaffolded opportunities for teachers to learn from analysis of model videos by experienced teachers, to try teaching model units, to analyze video of their own teaching efforts, and ultimately to develop their own unit, with guidance. The PD model attends to the key features of effective PD as described by Desimone (2009) and others. We adhered closely to the design principles of the face-to-face model as described by Authors, 2019. Methods We followed a design-based research approach (DBR; Cobb et al., 2003; Shavelson et al., 2003) to examine the online program components and how they promoted or interfered with the development of teachers’ knowledge and reflective practice. Of central interest was the examination of mechanisms for facilitating teacher learning (Confrey, 2006). To accomplish this goal, design researchers engaged in iterative cycles of problem analysis, design, implementation, examination, and redesign (Wang & Hannafin, 2005) in phase one of the project before studying its effect. Data Three small pilot groups of teachers engaged in both synchronous and asynchronous components of the larger online course which began implementation with a 10-week summer course that leads into study groups of participants meeting through one academic year. We iteratively designed, tested, and revised 17 modules across three pilot versions. On average, pilot groups completed one module every two weeks. Pilot 1 began the work in May 2019; Pilot 2 began in August 2019, and Pilot 3 began in October 2019. Pilot teachers responded to surveys and took part in interviews related to the PD. The PD facilitators took extensive notes after each iteration. The development team met weekly to discuss revisions. We revised all modules between each pilot group and used what we learned to inform our development of later modules within each pilot. For example, we applied what we learned from testing Module 3 with Pilot 1 to the development of Module 3 for Pilots 2, and also applied what we learned from Module 3 with Pilot 1 to the development of Module 7 for Pilot 1. Results We found that community building required the same incremental trust-building activities that occur in face-to-face PD. Teachers began with low-risk activities and gradually engaged in activities that required greater vulnerability (sharing a video of themselves teaching a model unit for analysis and critique by the group). We also identified how to contextualize technical tools with instructional prompts to allow teachers to productively interact with one another about science ideas asynchronously. As part of that effort, we crafted crux questions to surface teachers’ confusions or challenges related to content or pedagogy. We called them crux questions because they revealed teachers’ uncertainty and deepened learning during the discussion. Facilitators leveraged asynchronous responses to crux questions in the synchronous sessions to push teacher thinking further than would have otherwise been possible in a 2-hour synchronous video-conference. Significance Supporting teachers with effective, flexible, and cost-efficient PD is difficult under the best of circumstances. In the era of covid-19, online PD has taken on new urgency. NARST members will gain insight into the translation of an effective face-to-face PD model to an online environment.more » « less
Oftentimes engineering design tasks are thought of as acultural and devoid of community inclusion and values. However, engineering design is inherently a cultural endeavor. Problems needing engineering solutions or design thinking are situated in a specific community and need community solutions. This work in progress paper describes initial efforts from a project to help elementary and middle school teachers create culturally relevant engineering design tasks for implementation in their classrooms. To integrate best practices for culturally relevant pedagogy, the engineering design framework developed by UTeach Engineering was adapted to specifically address community needs and cultural values. Changes to the framework also include culturally relevant instructional strategies for classroom implementation. To situate the engineering design steps within a culturally relevant framework questions involving communities and students’ cultural needs, values, and expectations were posed in each stage of the design process. A water filtration engineering design task was situated in the cultural concept of “Mni Wiconi” (Water is life in the Dakota language). This was taught in a summer professional development workshop for a cohort of elementary and middle school teachers, in rural North Dakota, with school districts comprised of large Native American student populations. Teachers adapted this design task for their individual classrooms and content areas (science, math, social studies, ELA) and implemented it in their classrooms in the fall of 2021. Additional support for teachers was provided with fall workshop days aimed at helping them with the facilitation of a culturally relevant engineering task. To integrate culturally relevant teaching and good engineering design tasks, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction’s Native American Essential Understandings Teachings of our Elder’s website was used. This allowed teachers and students to have firsthand knowledge of how various science and engineering concepts are framed within the indigenous community. Professional development focused on how to situate culturally responsive teaching in engineering design. For example, in one of the school districts the water filtration task was related to increased pollution of a nearby lake which holds significant importance for the local Tribal Nation. In addition to being able to visibly witness the demand for cleaner water, the book “We are Water Protectors” written by Carole Lindstrom, was used to provide cultural grounding for the Identify and Describe stages of the engineering design framework. Case studies of how teachers incorporated the water filtration design task into their lesson plans are presented along with their suggestions on how to improve classroom implementation. Future work in the program includes teachers and their students developing engineering design tasks situated in their own communities and cultures.more » « less
As K-12 engineering education becomes more ubiquitous in the U.S, increased attention has been paid to preparing the heterogeneous group of in-service teachers who have taken on the challenge of teaching engineering. Standards have emerged for professional development along with research on teacher learning in engineering that call for teachers to facilitate and support engineering learning environments. Given that many teachers may not have experienced engineering practice calls have been made to engage teaches K-12 teachers in the “doing” of engineering as part of their preparation. However, there is a need for research studying more specific nature of the “doing” and the instructional implications for engaging teachers in “doing” engineering. In general, to date, limited time and constrained resources necessitate that many professional development programs for K-12 teachers to engage participants in the same engineering activities they will enact with their students. While this approach supports teachers’ familiarity with curriculum and ability to anticipate students’ ideas, there is reason to believe that these experiences may not be authentic enough to support teachers in developing a rich understanding of the “doing” of engineering. K-12 teachers are often familiar with the materials and curricular solutions, given their experiences as adults, which means that engaging in the same tasks as their students may not be challenging enough to develop their understandings about engineering. This can then be consequential for their pedagogy: In our prior work, we found that teachers’ linear conceptions of the engineering design process can limit them from recognizing and supporting student engagement in productive design practices. Research on the development of engineering design practices with adults in undergraduate and professional engineering settings has shown significant differences in how adults approach and understand problems. Therefore, we conjectured that engaging teachers in more rigorous engineering challenges designed for adult engineering novices would more readily support their developing rich understandings of the ways in which professional engineers move through the design process. We term this approach meaningful engineering for teachers, and it is informed by work in science education that highlights the importance of learning environments creating a need for learners to develop and engage in disciplinary practices. We explored this approach to teachers’ professional learning experiences in doing engineering in an online graduate program for in-service teachers in engineering education at Tufts University entitled the Teacher Engineering Education Program (teep.tufts.edu). In this exploratory study, we asked: 1. How did teachers respond to engaging in meaningful engineering for teachers in the TEEP program? 2. What did teachers identify as important things they learned about engineering content and pedagogy? This paper focuses on one theme that emerged from teachers’ reflections. Our analysis found that teachers reported that meaningful engineering supported their development of epistemic empathy (“the act of understanding and appreciating someone's cognitive and emotional experience within an epistemic activity”) as a result of their own affective experiences in doing engineering that required significant iteration as well as using novel robotic materials. We consider how epistemic empathy may be an important aspect of teacher learning in K-12 engineering education and the potential implications for designing engineering teacher education.more » « less
An instructor’s conceptions of teaching and learning contribute to the establishment of learning environments that may benefit or hinder student learning. Previous studies have defined the continuum of teaching and learning conceptions, ranging from limited to complete, as well as the instructional practices that they help to inform (instructor-centered to student-centered), and the corresponding learning environments that these conceptions and practices establish, ranging from traditional to student-centered. Using the case of one STEM department at a research-intensive, minority serving institution, we explored faculty’s conceptions of teaching and learning and their resulting instructional practices, as well as uncovered their perspectives on the intradepartmental faculty interactions related to teaching. The study participants were drawn from both teaching-focused (called Professors of Teaching, PoTs) and traditional research (whom we call Research Professors, RPs) tenure-track faculty lines to identify whether differences existed amongst these two populations. We used interviews to explore faculty conceptions and analyzed syllabi to unveil how these conceptions shape instructional environments.
Overall, PoTs exhibited complete conceptions of teaching and learning that emphasized student ownership of learning, whereas RPs possessed intermediate conceptions that focused more on transmitting knowledge and helping students prepare for subsequent courses. While both PoTs and RPs self-reported the use of active learning pedagogies, RPs were more likely to also highlight the importance of traditional lecture. The syllabi analysis revealed that PoTs enacted more student-centered practices in their classrooms compared to RPs. PoTs appeared to be more intentionally available to support students outside of class and encouraged student collaboration, while RPs focused more on the timeliness of assessments and enforcing more instructor-centered approaches in their courses. Finally, the data indicated that RPs recognized PoTs as individuals who were influential on their own teaching conceptions and practices.
Our findings suggest that departments should consider leveraging instructional experts who also possess a disciplinary background (PoTs) to improve their educational programs, both due to their student-centered impacts on the classroom environment and positive influence on their colleagues (RPs). This work also highlights the need for higher education institutions to offer appropriate professional development resources to enable faculty to reflect on their teaching and learning conceptions, aid in their pedagogical evolution, and guide the implementation of these conceptions into practice.
As the importance to integrate engineering into K12 curricula grows so does the need to develop teachers’ engineering teaching capabilities and knowledge. One method that has been used to aid this development is engineering professional development programs. This evaluation paper presents the successes and challenges of an engineering professional development program for teachers focused around the use of engineering problem-framing design activities in high school science classrooms. These activities were designed to incorporate the cross-cutting ideas published in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and draw on best practices for instructional design of problem-framing activities from research on design and model-eliciting activities (MEAs). The professional development (PD) was designed to include the following researched-based effective PD key elements: (1) is content focused, (2) incorporates active learning, (3) supports collaboration, (4) uses models of effective practice, (5) provides coaching and expert support, (6) offers feedback and reflection, and (7) is of sustained duration. The engineering PD, including in-classroom deployment of activities and data collection, was designed as an iterative process to be conducted over a three-year period. This will allow for improvement and refinement of our approach. The first iteration, reported in this paper, consisted of seven high school science teachers who have agreed to participate in the PD, implement the problem-framing activities, and collect student data over a period of one year. The PD itself consisted of the teachers comparing science and engineering, participating in problem-framing training and activities, and developing a design challenge scenario for their own courses. The participating teachers completed a survey at the end of the PD that will be used to inform enhancement of the PD and our efforts to recruit additional participants in the following year. The qualitative survey consisted of open-ended questions asking for the most valuable takeaways from the PD, their reasoning for joining the PD, reasons they would or would not recommend the PD, and, in their opinion, what would inspire their colleagues to attend the PD. The responses to the survey along with observations from the team presenting the PD were analyzed to identify lessons learned and future steps for the following iteration of the PD. From the data, three themes emerged: Development of PD, Teacher Motivation, and Teacher Experience.more » « less