, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 229-253
Date: 05 Mar 2011

Addressing Equity and Diversity with Teachers Though Informal Science Institutions and Teacher Professional Development

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This study explores how activities developed by science experts in partnership with middle school teachers were employed and interpreted. The goals of this partnership were to (a) help the science teacher meet earth science content standards in new ways, (b) expose students to ‘real world’ experiences outside their school setting, and (c) positively impact teacher practice by providing a program to be used as a catalyst for future learning. Over 300 sixth graders mostly underrepresented science students attended activities at an aquarium serving an urban West Coast urban context. Science teachers, non-science teachers, scientists, and volunteers were all engaged in pre-trip instruction, professional development opportunities, and follow-up activities as this partnership effort explored ways to enhance local literacy initiatives across the curriculum. Results suggest that teacher beliefs about informal education impacted their view and participation in the program and the level of submersion of teachers in collaboration strongly affects the ability to serve underrepresented students on informal excursions. Implications for teacher education and outreach are discussed.