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Session 8 - Teaching Projects.
Display session, Monday, June 09
South Main Hall,
Beginning in 1994, the NRAO has hosted an NSF-funded program, ``Research Experience in Teacher Preparation (RETP),'' in which inservice and preservice science teachers participate in residential institutes lasting one or two weeks. While on site, they conduct open-ended investigations using a 40-foot diameter working radio telescope. The aim of RETP has been to deepen and personalize participants' understanding of the nature of science, and to assist them in applying their newfound knowledge to their classroom teaching. So far RETP, and the teacher enhancement programs from which it evolved, have trained 434 inservice and 69 preservice teachers.
The impact of the research experience on teachers' perceptions of themselves as professionals and their views of science was initially assessed through open-ended questionnaires and participant journals. From teachers' responses we learned that the research experience has a profound, positive influence on participants' views of science and increased their confidence in using research-based teaching methods. However, determining what actually happens in the classroom is harder to evaluate and requires a more structured approach.
Therefore, to determine what changes occurred in teachers and their students, five survey instruments were developed. The instruments: 1) assess changes in teachers' perceptions of their ability to conduct research; 2) gauge teachers' perceptions of three aspects of the institute; 3) measure changes in teachers' concerns about implementing classroom research projects; 4) evaluate the development of teachers' understanding into the nature of science; and 5) determine changes in their students' perceptions of science and science class. To increase the reliability of the instruments, the survey questions were tested for internal consistency. Early results show that the RETP program has significantly affected participants and their students. These instruments are useful not only for evaluating this program but also for evaluating other teacher enhancement and preparation programs.
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