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Assessing the Efficacy of a Comprehensive Intervention in Physical Science on Head Start Teachers and Children

Year: 2009
Name of Institution:
Education Development Center, Inc.
Goal: Efficacy and Replication
Principal Investigator:
Clark-Chiarelli, Nancy
Award Amount: $2,999,841
Award Period: 4 years
Award Number: R305A090114

Description:

Co-Principal Investigator: Jess Gropen

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of the Foundations of Science Literacy (FSL) intervention, a professional development program that was developed for use with Head Start teachers. By focusing on the Head Start community, FSL directly addresses the achievement gap in early science education by providing a framework for teachers to learn and implement preschool science instructional practices in classrooms serving children from low-income backgrounds. This study will examine the impact of the Foundations of Science Literacy (FSL) professional development program on teachers' attitudes toward and knowledge of physical science content, teachers’ classroom instructional practices, and children’s understanding of physical science content.

Project Activities: The research team will recruit and randomly assign two cohorts of teachers to intervention and control group conditions. The research team will deliver the three components of the professional development program (instructional sessions, coaching, and implementation of one unit of the Young Scientist Series) to teachers in the intervention group. Teacher-, child-, and classroom-level data will be collected in fall and spring of the preschool year. The research team will analyze the data to address these main research questions: (1) To what extent does FSL impact Head Start teachers’ attitudes toward, and knowledge of, physical science content and effective pedagogy for 4-year-olds?; (2) To what extent does FSL impact Head Start teachers’ classroom practice in teaching physical science to 4-year-olds?; and (3) To what extent do 4-year-olds in FSL classrooms develop a greater understanding of physical science content, quantitative concepts, and skills related to physical science inquiry, compared to peers in control classrooms? The research team will examine relevant mediating and moderating variables and assess the fidelity of both program delivery and classroom implementation.

Products: The products of this project will be reports describing the evidence regarding the efficacy of the Foundations of Science Literacy (FSL) professional development program and implementation of one unit from the Young Scientist Series preschool science curriculum on teachers’ attitudes toward and knowledge of physical science content, teachers’ classroom instructional practices, and children’s understanding of physical science content.

Related IES Projects: Assessing the Potential Impact of a Professional Development Program in Science on Head Start Teachers and Children (R305M050060)

Publications from this project:

Gropen, J., Clark-Chiarelli, N., Hoisington, C., and Ehrlich, S.B. (2011). The Importance of Executive Function in Early Science Education. Child Development Perspectives, 5 (4): 298–304.