Using Scientists and Real-World Scenarios in Professional Development for Middle School Science Teachers

Middle school science teachers were involved in a problem-solving experience presented and guided by research scientists. Data on the teachers’ perspectives about this professional development and any impact it may have had on their teaching practices were collected through interviews, surveys, and classroom observations. The findings show that the professional development experience was positive, although one concern expressed by teachers was their lack of understanding of the scientists’ vocabulary. Using scientists and real-world scenarios was shown to be an effective strategy for encouraging middle school teachers to teach science as a process and help them strengthen their science content understanding.

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Acknowledgments

The middle school science materials used in this project were funded by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction through a grant to the Pacific Science Center. The scientists and engineers involved in the project were supported by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory operated for the U.S. Department of Energy by Battelle Memorial Institute under contract DE-AC06-1976RLO.

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Correspondence to Judith A. Morrison.

Appendix

Appendix

Interview questions: LASER research

LASER experiences:

  1. 1.

    List and describe any experiences you have had with the LASER program (SPI, YV/TC, districtwide trainings, etc)

  2. 2.

    Describe any science kit/module trainings that you have been involved in.

  3. 3.

    Describe any other LASER professional development experiences in which you have been involved.

  4. 4.

    Describe your school’s involvement in the LASER program. Describe your district’s involvement

  5. 5.

    What have you seen at your school or at the district level that has occurred due to the LASER program?

  6. 6.

    Describe your role in the LASER SE Regional Materials Center curriculum adoption.

Nature of Science/Teaching Science

  1. 1.

    What is science? Can you describe what it means to you?

  2. 2.

    Do you think of science as a process? What does that process look like?

  3. 3.

    How do you feel is the most effective way to teach science?

  4. 4.

    How do you convey science concepts to your students?

  5. 5.

    Define inquiry-based science teaching.

  6. 6.

    What would an inquiry-based science lesson look like in your classroom?

  7. 7.

    How do you know if a student understands a science concept?

  8. 8.

    What are things that you look for in students when checking for understanding?

  9. 9.

    What strategies do you use to assess your students’ learning of science?

Kits/Units

  1. 1.

    What is your reaction to using science modules to teach middle school science?

  2. 2.

    Are there any benefits to using the science modules?

  3. 3.

    What are some of the concerns you have with using modules to teach science?

  4. 4.

    If you don’t have prior experience with or knowledge of the science content in a specific module, what do you need to gain this?

  5. 5.

    What do you need to know or have before teaching a science module?

  6. 6.

    What resources might you need while teaching with a science module?

  7. 7.

    Describe the science content you might need to teach the module you have been assigned. How confident do you feel about this content?

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Morrison, J., Estes, J. Using Scientists and Real-World Scenarios in Professional Development for Middle School Science Teachers. J Sci Teacher Educ 18, 165–184 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10972-006-9034-3

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Keywords

  • Professional Development
  • Pedagogical Content Knowledge
  • Science Content
  • Classroom Observation
  • Lead Teacher