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The Impact of STEM Graduate Students in the Professional Development of Middle School Teachers Implementing a Problem-Based Inquiry Learning Curriculum

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Research and Models for Professional Development

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1470.1 - 22.1470.21



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Paper Authors


Cher C. Hendricks Georgia Institute of Technology

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Cher Hendricks is an educational researcher in the Center for Education Integrating Science, Math, and Computing (CEISMC) at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to her appointment at CEISMC, she taught graduate courses in educational research at The Citadel and the University of West Georgia. The second edition of her book, Improving Schools through Action Research: A Comprehensive Guide for Educators, was published by Pearson in 2010.

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Barbara Burks Fasse Georgia Institute of Technology

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Barbara Burks Fasse is a Senior Research Scientist in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech. Dr. Fasse studies the efficacy and value of student-centered learning initiatives, specifically Problem-Based and Project-Based Inquiry Learning, in classrooms, instructional labs, and undergraduate research experiences. She joined the BME faculty in 2007 following ten years with Georgia Tech's College of Computing where she was a member of the NSF-funded Learning By Design™ Problem-Based Learning curriculum development and research team. Dr. Fasse also conducted an NSF-funded ethnographic study of learning in a problem-driven, project-based bio-robotics research lab at Georgia Tech. She is on the evaluation and assessment team for the SLIDER research project.

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Donna C. Llewellyn Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Llewellyn is the Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL) at Georgia Tech. Her primary professional interests are in the area of faculty and graduate student professional development, engineering education research, and increasing access and support for under-represented minorities in the field of engineering.

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The Impact of STEM Graduate Students in the Professional Development of Middle School Teachers Implementing a Problem-Based Inquiry Learning CurriculumAxxxx Bxxxx: Cxxxx Dxxxx, Exxxx, and Fxxxx (ABCDEF) is a five year NSF-funded researchproject that involves collaboration between k-12 educators, university faculty, and educationaloutreach specialists. The project’s objective is to design and implement a problem-based inquirycurriculum using engineering design and LEGO robotics as the context for teaching eighth gradephysical science content and process skills. One of the components of the project is to utilizeSTEM graduate students (Fellows) to support curriculum goals and facilitate student learningwhile providing the Fellows with k-12 classroom experience. A long-term goal of our project isto study the impact of the Fellows on the professional development of teachers in terms of (a)implementation of the instructional strategies, (b) increasing teaching efficacy, (c) developmentof content knowledge, and (d) delivery of the ABCDEF curriculum with fidelity. In this firstreport of the study, we begin to investigate the impact of the Fellows on seven teachers in sixclassrooms in three middle school contexts: rural, urban, suburban.This research report utilizes ethnographic methods in a multiple case study design. Data sourcesinclude group and individual interviews with the Fellows and the teachers, fieldnotes fromobservations, classroom artifacts, self-report documents such as surveys, and the Fellows’weekly journals. Factors of interest include teacher-Fellow interdependence, confidence, powerdistribution, science content knowledge, teacher practices, and implementation of problem-basedlearning pedagogy. Analyses will be used not only to describe ways in which Fellows arecurrently impacting teachers’ professional development but also to plan for ways Fellows canhave a greater impact on teachers’ professional development in the remaining years of the study.

Hendricks, C. C., & Fasse, B. B., & Llewellyn, D. C. (2011, June), The Impact of STEM Graduate Students in the Professional Development of Middle School Teachers Implementing a Problem-Based Inquiry Learning Curriculum Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18764

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