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Teacher and Student Content Knowlege Gains: Effects of a Materials Science-Focused Professional Development Program

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Materials Division Technical Session 3

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Paper Authors


Alison K. Polasik Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Alison K Polasik received a B.S.E. degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Arizona State University in 2002, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from The Ohio State University in 2005 and 2014, respectively. She has been part of the adjunct faculty at Columbus State Community College, and was a full-time lecturer at OSU from 2013 until 2015. In 2015, she was hired as an assistant professor of practice in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at OSU.

Dr. Polasik's research interests include modeling of microstructure-property relationships in metals, assessment of educational outcomes, and engineering-specific epistemology in undergraduate students.

Dr. Polasik is a member of ASM, TMS, and ASEE.

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Alexandria Julius Ohio State University

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Raeal Moore Evaluation Data Solutions, LLC


Teresa Shiverdecker Ohio State University

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Dr. Shiverdecker is currently the K-12 STEM Program Director in the Department of Educational Studies, College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University. Her research interests include the integration of science-themed nonfiction children’s literature into inquiry-based science instruction, scientific argumentation, materials science education, and the use of ITS in mathematics education. Previously, Shiverdecker held the position of Director of STEM Initiatives for the Ohio Resource Center. She is co-author of the Inquiring Scientists, Inquiring Readers series published by NSTA Press.

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Michelle R. McCombs

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Michelle R. McCombs is the Program Manager and Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Center for Emergent Materials, an NSF MRSEC, CEM, at The Ohio State University. She received both her B.S. and M.S. in Chemistry at Western Kentucky University and M.A. in Science Education at the University of California, Davis. In addition to conducting evaluation for this Math and Science Partnership Program, she has led a range of education efforts for CEM including working with undergraduate and graduate STEM students to teach science lessons to inner city elementary students in Columbus, OH; organizing on-campus outreach efforts for middle school students; coordinating a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program and organizing professional development experiences for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. Prior to joining CEM, she worked at the University of California, Davis for a NSF funded Science and Technology Center, the Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology, where she led a variety of similar efforts.

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The Professional Development for Materials Science-Focused High School Courses program aims to give educators tools rooted in materials science to expand their teaching methodology and inquiry-based learning techniques. Since the program’s beginning in the summer of 2012, it has gone through several iterations until reaching a solid format, now in the fifth year of the program. The current format includes a forty hour intensive ASM summer camp for teachers preceding the academic year, an online two credit hour graduate course on the fundamentals of materials science, in-classroom support to aid teaching and experimental methods, and full group meetings four times throughout the academic year. Teacher outcomes from the beginning to the end of the academic year are assessed by evaluating content knowledge and changes in teaching pedagogy and efficacy. Student outcomes are evaluated by assessing their content knowledge and interest in science. Prior to the 2016 to 2017 cycle, the program showed established increases in teacher content knowledge, as well as increased use of materials science activities in the classroom. In the 2016 to 2017 academic year, teacher and student content knowledge increases are assessed relative to a comparison group of teachers (using a quasi-experimental research design). Increases in teacher content knowledge are tracked to student content knowledge and teaching practices. Reliability and validity of the teacher and student concept tests will be discussed, as well as relationships between the different measures of teacher practice. This analysis seeks to determine the efficacy of the professional development program at increasing teacher and student knowledge, and to quantify the changes in teacher practice. Thus, it has broader implications for future extension of the program to include a greater number of teachers across a wider range of geographical areas.

Polasik, A. K., & Julius, A., & Moore, R., & Shiverdecker, T., & McCombs, M. R. (2017, June), Teacher and Student Content Knowlege Gains: Effects of a Materials Science-Focused Professional Development Program Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28906

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