New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Pre-College Engineering Education Division
A total group of 41 K-12 science, mathematics, and technology (STEM) in-service teachers chose to participate in a Math and Science Partnership grant for professional development (PD), named Launching Astronomy: Standards and STEM Integration or LASSI (resources found at UWpd.org/LASSI) for 25-days during the summer and academic year that involved astronomy and computer science (CS) opportunities (e.g. Arduinos) that they could recreate in their classrooms. Electrical/computer engineering, astronomy, and educational experts defined the activities, which were intended to introduce CS concepts to teachers and thus K-12 students in creative manners. The LASSI PD focused on astronomy – and used CS - as a vehicle to explicitly model problem-based learning, engineering design-based approaches, context-rich problem solving strategies, and real-world applications. All of the foci were ideally suited for helping K-12 students learn the interdisciplinary integrated STEM concepts now called for in the K-12 standards (e.g. Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards - NGSS). Although not traditionally used in STEM subjects (or explored in this paper), astronomy concepts such as black holes, distances to other stars, and planets in star systems beyond our own, are inspirational to K-12 students while being explainable at a technical and quantitative level. Quantitative assessment methods for the LASSI PD included an external evaluator who asked daily survey questions of the participants in the yearlong PD. Included in this paper are the results from 33 participants from two specific days (March and June 2015 respectively), where CS and engineering PD activities were explicitly targeted. Information about the two PD days and the five main PD activities are shared in the paper. Quantitative results show that the teacher participants gave the sessions a mean rating of 4.4 on a 5-point scale. All of the teachers reflected that they were engaged for more than 75% of the time, and at least 70% of all teachers reported that every activity was “very useful.” The hands-on activities - implemented during the workshop -were rated by all teachers as “meaningful,” and every teacher stated that they intended to use at least some of what they learned in their classrooms. The CS content and engineering learning of the teachers increased in pre/post test evaluation and was significant with a p = .0000, correlation of .14, paired-t test of 13.64, and effect size of 4.008. Qualitative K-12 teacher responses are shared in the paper to supplement the quantitative data.
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