June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
15.1165.1 - 15.1165.9
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
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