Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Accessible Professional Development for Teaching Aquatic Science Inquiry
Center: NCER Year: 2010
Principal Investigator: Duncan, Kanesa Awardee: University of Hawaii
Program: Teaching, Teachers, and the Education Workforce      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,440,585
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A100091

Purpose: The research team will develop, evaluate, and prepare for efficacy trials a series of professional development (PD) modules consisting of in-person trainings coupled with online learning support. The module series will be designed to support teachers as they seek to become successful facilitators of scientific inquiry, enabling them to create classrooms that function as a community of scientists — where students learn science by engaging in the practice of science.

Project Activities: The researchers will iteratively develop, test, evaluate and refine the PD series; each module will be implemented, assessed and revised four times. Cohorts of twelve teachers (48 in total) will participate in each module series.

Products: A fully developed series of PD modules focused on aquatic science content will be produced. In addition, the researchers will produce peer reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The researchers will develop, test and refine the PD module series throughout the state of Hawai'i. Schools in Hawai'i represent an educational population among the most diverse in the nation, including many underrepresented groups.

Sample: The PD will target teachers of heterogeneous groups of students in middle and high schools from both rural and urban settings. A total of 48 teachers in cohorts of 12 will participate.

Intervention: The PD will be based on the unique Teaching Science Through Inquiry (TSI) model. TSI was developed at the University of Hawai'i's Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG) and emphasizes multiple modes of inquiry learning and teaching. The PD will be grounded in TSI and focused on aquatic science content, reflecting the nationally established Ocean Literacy Essential Principles (OLEP) and drawing from CRDG's nationally recognized Fluid Earth / Living Ocean (FELO) curriculum.

The PD will focus on inquiry instruction in the nature of science and scientific thinking skills. The aquatic science context will allow examination of various Earth systems. The course materials will be organized into thematic modules, providing flexibility for use in states with disparate standards while maintaining the pedagogical integrity of each unit.

The four modules will be adapted from existing FELO materials to include: (a) Introductory, (b) Physical, (c) Biological, and (d) Ecological Aquatic Science. Each of the modules will consist of a two-day workshop (17 hours) and a face-to-face follow-up training (3 hours) coupled with an online learning community that includes feedback mechanisms, news articles, pictures, master materials, and multimedia. The four modules will total 80 contact hours per teacher.

Research Design & Methods: The researchers will iteratively develop, test, evaluate and refine the PD series; each module will be implemented, assessed and revised four times. Cohorts of twelve teachers (48 total) will participate in each module series. Teachers will attend workshops and follow-up trainings, participate in the online learning community, and provide structured feedback.

Key Measures & Outcomes: The PD modules will be assessed for teacher accessibility across a range of measures, including duration, scope, content and ease of implementation. Upon completion of the modules, teachers will be assessed for gains in self-efficacy associated with designing and adapting lessons for students' inquiry-based engagement. The team will investigate teachers' content knowledge gains in aquatic science and evaluate whether these are sufficient to facilitate students' investigations of aquatic systems and the OLEP. Researchers will also assess students' nature of science and science skill gains as well as their aquatic science content knowledge gains.

Data Analytic Strategy: To complete the iterative development and test the promise of the intervention, the research team will use a mix of analytic methods, including (a) video analysis of PD implementation; (b) descriptive and inferential analyses of data addressing formative evaluation questions; (c) post-PD teacher questionnaires, interviews, and attitudinal measures; (d) classroom observations, logs, concept maps, and interviews for monitoring implementation; (e) follow-up surveys; and (f) student pre/post-tests. Data analysis will include frequency and percentage distributions of survey, observation and log results as well as analysis of the interview results.

Products and Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Duncan Seraphin, K., Harrison, G.M., Philippoff, J., Brandon, P.R., Nguyen, T.T.T., Lawton, B.E., and Vallin, L.M. (2017). Teaching Aquatic Science as Inquiry Through Professional Development: Teacher Characteristics and Student Outcomes. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 54(9), 1219–1245.

Seraphin, K.D., Philippoff, J., Kaupp, L., Vallin, L.M. (2010). Metacognition as Means to Increase the Effectiveness of Inquiry–Based Science Education. Science Education International, 23(4): 366–382.


Nguyen, T. T., and Jumawan, F. (2013, October). A Social Network Analysis of a Teaching Science as Inquiry Online Learning Community. In World Conference on E–Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education (Vol. 2013, No. 1, pp. 2017–2025

** This project was submitted to and funded under Teacher Quality: Mathematics and Science Education in FY 2010.