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  • Reformed Undergraduate Science Courses: A Nationwide Research Project Investigating the Impact on pK-6 Teachers

    Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE)International ConferenceJanuary 14-17, 2010Sacramento, California

  • Cheryl L. MasonSan Diego State University

    Dennis W. Sunal Cynthia S. Sunal University of Alabama

    Dean ZollmanKansas State University

    *Based on the NASA Opportunities for Visionary Academics (NOVA) Professional Development Program

    National Study of Education in Undergraduate Science* (NSEUS)

  • Corinne H. LardySan Diego State University

    Donna TurnerErika SteeleCheryl SundbergUniversity of Alabama

    Sytil Murphy Mojgan Matloob-HaghanikarKansas State University

    This paper was developed under the National Science Foundation Grant TPC 0554594. The content does not necessarily represent the policy of NSF and should not be assumed as an endorsement by the Federal Government.NSEUS Research Assistants

  • Project Goals

    Characterize levels of reform in NOVA versus nonNOVA undergraduate science curriculum and teaching (courses & faculty)Investigate the impact of reformed entry level courses on undergraduate studentsDetermine short- and long-term impacts of undergraduate science courses on elementary teachers

  • Reformed Course CharacteristicsReflects national science standardsEmphasizes student-centered activitiesUtilizes inquiry-based pedagogyBuilds on undergraduate students prior knowledgeIncorporates interdisciplinary learning and collaborative approaches

  • The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. William Arthur Ward

  • Research Study Population

  • NSEUS Timeline

  • Research Comparison of Entry-level Reformed and Traditional Undergraduate Science Courses

    Essential characteristics for meaningful learning

    Effects of varying levels of reform characteristics

    Cognitive and affective learning outcomes

    Long-term impacts on pK-6 teachers


    QUALITATIVE MEASURESRTOPCoRePaP-eRInterviewsScience Content Achievement (SCA)

  • Administration of Instruments

    Pre-site Visit: Undergraduate Students: DAST and On-line Demographic survey, CLES & TSSI On-site Visit: Undergraduate Faculty & pK-6 Teachers: RTOPs, Interviews, CoRe, PaP-eR Undergraduate Students: Focus Group Interviews

    Post-site Visit: Undergraduate Students: DAST, On-line CLES&TSSI, and SCApK-6 Teachers: On-line STEBI-B, CLES, & TSSI

  • On-site VisitsOn-site visits to university and elementary classes add richness to the data concerning reform efforts in undergraduate science. Triangulation of results from interviews and observations provide further elaboration of the quantitative data. On-site visits are helpful in gaining insights into the methodologies and rationale for how and why science is taught the way it is at various levels.

  • Results(Undergraduate Science Courses)Differences were found between reform and traditional course instructors in coursework observed. Reform instructors exhibit deeper understanding of how students typically think about science and modify teaching to match students learning needs.Reform instructors exhibit greater proficiency in knowledge about science teaching.

  • The class seems to help change students views of science. They dont hate science anymore and theyre not afraid of it.

    If you just show them a drawing in the textbook or on the board it is not enough. They have to do it themselves in order to reinforce the material that is being taught.

    Impact of Reformed Undergraduate Science Courses (Faculty)

  • Impact of Reformed Undergraduate Science Courses (Undergraduate Students)Before this class I was nervous and afraid of science, but now I have more fun learning and thinking about how to teach it.I failed chemistry in high school so I was nervous. But [this instructor] makes me feel very comfortable. Shes very approachable and she seems like she wants to help us learn. If I want to succeed, I can succeed. Shell give us the tools.

  • Results(Elementary Science Teachers)Compared to elementary teachers experiencing only traditional science courses, reform teachers:possess a greater depth of science content knowledge on the concepts taught;exhibit a more expansive knowledge of how students think about science, and modify teaching to match students learning needs; anddemonstrate a greater knowledge of science pedagogy.

  • Impact of Reformed Undergraduate Science Courses (NOVA Elementary Teacher #1)You cant just sit there and lecture as a [science] teacher. The [reform course] really showed me that the most because all of my other [science] courses were really lecture-based. If you dont get it that way, then in a lecture class you wont learn the material. I can learn. . .and really get it when I dig into it and I think that most people are that way. The [reform course] was great because it had a good mix of lecture and activity, so you got the information in multiple ways and see what those concepts actually look like.

  • Impact of Reformed Undergraduate Science Courses (NOVA Elementary Teacher #2)The [reform course] especially added to my understanding and made me think about why and how do these concepts work. Thats when my whole thought process about science really changed because until you really question the concepts and think about it on your own (not just memorize) its not meaningful. You look at the content differently when you have to teach it to others. You have to know it yourself to be able to explain it to someone else.

  • Impact of Reformed Undergraduate Science Courses (nonNOVA Elementary Teacher)[At the undergraduate level] I just took science courses and did what I had to do. I had no idea how to relate what I was learning to how I could teach it to others. I now wish that I had more ideas about how to teach science, but I am getting there.

  • Conclusions

    Successful reform ideas are adopted by other faculty.

    Collaborative teams sustain course reform over time.

    Reform science courses have significantly higher positive classroom learning environments.

  • Conclusions (cont.)

    Reform course faculty teach more inquiry-oriented science.

    The way undergraduate students perceive former science experiences differs among individuals but not classes.

    Undergraduate students ideas about the nature and process of science are more informed and positive in reformed classes.

  • Conclusions (cont.)Graduates of reform courses teach more inquiry science in elementary schools.

    Science PCK is more expansive in teachers who had taken reform coursework.

    NOVA and nonNOVA teachers emphasize the impact of effective professional development.

  • Overall CommentsReform efforts are sustainable with dedicated faculty & administrative support.Professional development activities that reflect reform profoundly affect the teaching of elementary & IHE science.Undergraduate science experiences affect how students view science on both affective and cognitive levels.

  • National Study of Education in Undergraduate Science (NSEUS)We would like to acknowledge the wonderful cooperation and professionalism of the elementary teachers and adminstrators, and the university faculty and adminstrators who have contributed immensely to the success of this project.Please visit our website

  • Additional Information

    The following slides serve as a supplement to the presentation .

  • Research QuestionsHow do the levels of reform science course characteristics - learning environments, course structure, pedagogical content knowledge, and collaboration - differ between reform courses (treatment only) and how do these differences relate to the learning outcomes of undergraduate students? (CLES, TSSI, DAST, STEBI-B, RTOP, CoRe, PaP-eR, Faculty and Undergraduate Student Interviews, SCA)How do the science course characteristics of reform and traditional courses compare in the long-term based on graduated in-service K-6 teachers in their own science classrooms? (CLES, DAST, STEBI-A, CBATS, RTOP, Elementary Teacher Interviews, CoRe, PaP-eR)

  • Draw A Scientist Test (DAST)Intended to provide students with opportunity to:Picture perception of scientistsRelate the scientist to their personal environment lab, etcConsider the ways in which they view scientists relate to their own science beliefs about the nature of scienceIncludes an illustration plus a short personal narrative (Contributes additional information and confirms evaluators interpretation of drawings- Since interviews with each student are impractical)Evaluator follows a checklist to interpret drawing. Evaluator gives one point for each item present. The higher the score, the more stereotypical the image is.

  • Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES)Survey is designed to monitor the development of constructivist approaches in the classroom, as perceived from the teachers and undergraduate students points of view.5 key dimensions of a critical constructivist learning environment are ascertained:Personal relevance Uncertainty of ScienceCritical Voice Shared ControlStudent Negotiation

    Six items are given for each of the 5 dimensions with possible responses of Almost Always, Often, Sometimes, Seldom, and Almost Never.

  • The Thinking about Science Survey Instrument (TSSI)Developed to assess preservice and inservice elementary teachers attitudes toward sci


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