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IES Grant

Title: Education Research - BioBridge Teacher Quality
Center: NCER Year: 2008
Principal Investigator: Thompson, Loren Awardee: University of California, San Diego
Program: Effective Instruction      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,467,679
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A080692
Description:

Purpose: In an effort to improve science education at the local level, university scientists and K–12 educators in San Diego have begun collaborations to co-develop lab activities and materials for secondary science curricula focused upon introducing emerging research and technology directly into classrooms. This is meant to help bypass normal 10–12 year delays between new discoveries and their appearance in students' textbooks. This project is designed around findings from a local needs assessment of teachers, which found the following: a) a need for more support for laboratory work with students including stimulating learner thinking, access to emerging technologies and research findings, adequate training in new protocols, and support to conduct student-centered labs; b) a need for more professional development involving training with contemporary laboratory activities and the integration of technology as part of instruction, along with strategies to increase student motivation; c) a need for greater access to subject matter experts and enhanced professional development in scientific fields; and d) a strong desire to plan together and to share meaningful teaching lessons and strategies.

Project Activities: The professional development is implemented in 4 phases. During Phase I teachers are modeled two alternative approaches to introductory talks/lectures on a topic as well as informed of recent developments by a scientist in the field. In group discussion with other teachers, they are given an opportunity to reflect on this experience after each of the lectures. During Phase II, each teacher will bring 3–4 of their students selected to be student leaders who provide laboratory assistance, and will be provided (along with their students) a third modeled lecture presented by an experienced teacher. Again, they will have opportunity to reflect on what they have learned, but will also have an initial opportunity to practice delivery of the laboratory to their small student leader group with the assistance of project staff, and will then have more time to reflect on how it went and what needs to be modified. In Phase III, the master teacher will discuss with each teacher which approach is most appropriate for his/her classes, review set-up procedures for the laboratory sessions, and discuss with student leaders how they can best be used. In Phase IV, with the support of a BioBridge master teacher, the teachers and their student leaders will set-up the laboratory and implement it twice. After that, they will implement it 2–3 other times without the help of the master teacher.

Products: The products to be developed for this intervention will be a series (seven topic areas) of high school level laboratory lessons related to biological sciences along with a professional development Implementation Manual which will include all training materials and lab protocols.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The project will take place in three urban school districts in the San Diego, California area. The districts are highly diverse with 20 to 50 percent of students English Language Learners, depending on the district.

Population: Across the three school districts and the three years of the study, approximately 115 teachers will receive professional development affecting, 2,364 students.

Intervention: Teachers will be trained to teach up to 7 laboratories on cutting-edge topics in high school level biological sciences (e.g., protein transformation, pharmacy & enzymes, plant genetics, physiology & hypoxia). Three of the topics will be determined in consultation with the participating teachers. The professional development is implemented in 4 phases. During Phase I teachers are modeled an introductory talk/lecture as well as informed of recent developments by a scientist in the field. They next reflect on this experience in context of a group discussion. Later in the session, teachers are provided with a second curricular approach, and again reflect in groups on what they have learned. During Phase II, each teacher will bring 3–4 of their students selected to be student leaders who provide laboratory assistance, and are provided along with their students a third modeled lecture presented by an experienced teacher. Again, they will have opportunity to reflect on what they have learned, but will also have an initial opportunity to practice delivery of the laboratory to their own small student leader group with the assistance of project staff, and will then have more time to reflect on how it went and what needs to be modified. In Phase III, a master teacher will discuss with each teacher being trained which approach to the topic would work best for his/her class, and will respond to any additional teacher questions. In Phase IV, with the support of a BioBridge master teacher, the teachers and their student leaders will set-up the laboratory and implement it twice. After that, they will implement it several 2–3 other times without the help of a BioBridge master teacher. Thus, teachers receive in-depth training concerning a complex concept by hearing it repeated in talk/lecture format on multiple occasions, entering into discussion with peers, responding to student questions, and having opportunities to ask questions of scientists, experienced teachers, and BioBridge professional development staff. Finally, they will have the opportunity to present the laboratories with the support of more expert project staff and independently.

Research Design and Methods: This study will refine instruments developed for earlier piloting of the BioBridge professional development, and will begin implementing them systematically so that the data generated can inform the continued development of the professional development program. Instruments that will be revised include pre-and post program teacher surveys for the different phases of the project, and an implementation survey for Phase IV. New methodologies will also be introduced as part of the evaluation plan. For example, when possible, the formative evaluation of BioBridge will be embedded within the professional development activities themselves. Observations of teachers and their interactions with other teachers will be recorded, as well as interactions with students throughout the implementation of lab activities, and how they respond to student questions. Iterative refinement of the intervention is continuous as feedback is received during each phase of the project.

Key Measures: Measures include project-developed Pre-Program Teacher Survey, Teacher Post-Activity Survey (Phase I), Phase II Post Activity Teacher Survey, and a Teacher Post Implementation Survey (Phase IV), as well as training and implementation observation measures to-be-developed (using an adaptation of the Classroom Observation Protocol). Student end-of-the year science learning measures will also be gathered.

Data Analytic Strategy: Qualitative and quantitative analyses of descriptive data will be employed.

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Peterman, K., Pan, Y., Robertson, J., & Lee, S. G. (2014). Self–Report and Academic Factors in Relation to High School Students' Success in an Innovative Biotechnology Program. Journal of Technology Education, 25(2), 35–51.

Rios, A.C., and French, G. (2011). Introducing Bond–Line Organic Structures in High School Biology: An Activity That Incorporates Pleasant–Smelling Molecules. Journal of Chemical Education, 88(7): 954–959.

** This project was submitted to and funded under Teacher Quality: Mathematics and Science Education in FY 2008.


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