Asee peer logo

Teachers As Scientists: A Qualitative Study Of Outcomes For An Ret Program

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Assessment of K-12 Engineering Programs & Issues

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1165.1 - 15.1165.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Lisa Benson Clemson University

visit author page

Lisa C. Benson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Bioengineering. Dr. Benson teaches first year engineering, undergraduate research methods, and graduate engineering education courses. Her research interests include student-centered active learning in undergraduate engineering, assessment of motivation, and how motivation affects student learning. She is also involved in projects that utilize Tablet PCs to enhance student learning. Her education includes a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

visit author page


Emily Medders Southern Wesleyan University

visit author page

Cheryl A. P. Cass is a Ph.D. candidate and graduate research assistant in the Department of Bioengineering at Clemson University and is working towards a graduate certificate in the Department of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson. She also serves as lab manager in the Institute for Biological Interfaces of Engineering at Clemson. Cheryl was active as a research mentor in several federally funded summer research programs and has also been involved in many tutoring and outreach efforts. Her current research interests include discerning student misconceptions of science and engineering content. Cheryl’s education includes B.S. degrees in Biological and Agricultural Engineering and Biomedical Engineering from North Carolina State University and an M.S. degree in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

visit author page


Cheryl Cass Clemson University

visit author page

Emily G. Medders is a mathematics education major at Southern Wesleyan University, and an undergraduate research assistant in the Department of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Teachers as Scientists: A Qualitative Study of Outcomes for an RET Program

Abstract This study examined the development of teachers as scientists for participants in a NSF Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program in terms of their technical and scientific expertise and an understanding of the nature of science. Our RET program is a six week summer program in which secondary science and math teachers are immersed in research environments related to polymers and polymer processing.

their research environment in terms of science and the process of scientific inquiry were categorized into different levels of cognitive development (understanding, applying, analyzing, etc). Elements from studies on adult learning and learning in general were combined to form a four-level scale to assess t independence as researchers, their focus, their relationship with their mentors and graduate assistants, and the structure of their environment. Hierarchies developed from these theoretical frameworks allowed tracking of changes over time for the attributes of interest. We also examined the roles that mentors played in the process and the level of independence achieved in scientific practice by the teachers.

Participants included ten teachers with varying levels of education and experience. Data included weekly journal entries written during the program and exit interviews conducted at the conclusion of the program. Data were coded with respect to the two hierarchies, and then evidence pertaining to mentors and independent practice were extracted and examined. Increases in functionality as researchers, level of cognition of scientific topics, and/or level of independence were observed for all teachers who completed the program. Differences were

individual characteristics and relationships with mentors. Six of nine teachers completing the program reached their highest level of functionality by Week 3, indicating that a six week program is an appropriate period for teachers to develop, and have time to function, as scientists. independent scientific practice. Accessibility of mentors, but not necessarily physical presence, was key to a successful experience. Encouragement and openness to new ideas also were key factors in positive mentor/mentee relationships.

Introduction This study comprises an analysis of data collected from participants in the 2008 Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program at the Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films (Clemson University and Clark Atlanta University). This six-week internship program placed secondary science and mathematics teachers in authentic research environments, with the goal of enhancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education by

Benson, L., & Medders, E., & Cass, C. (2010, June), Teachers As Scientists: A Qualitative Study Of Outcomes For An Ret Program Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16822

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015