Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Science Education (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Advisor 1

Kedmon Hungwe

Committee Member 1

John Irwin

Committee Member 2

Shari Stockero

DOI

10.37099/mtu.dc.etdr/931

Abstract

Teacher professional development has long been acknowledged as a useful tool to improve instructional methods and to increase the likelihood of successful implementation of new standards. The duration of the training is often identified as a factor that determines how successful professional development experiences can be, with the best options taking place over several days and for more than 40 hours. However, with serious limitations in time, funding, and substitute teachers, districts must often consider offering short-term professional development instead.

This case study followed a professional development experience of seven high school science teachers as they spent a day learning about the engineering standards included in the Next Generation Science Standards. The purpose was to determine if a short-term experience could increase their knowledge of the standards and their confidence to integrate them. Using pre- and post-PD surveys and individual teacher interviews, this study found that the teachers had significant increases in their knowledge of the standards and notable increases in their confidence to teach them. However, these increases did not translate into attempts to integrate the engineering standards for all but one of the teachers. Other factors were held responsible, but the lack of follow through prevented an opportunity to gather further evidence to support the success of the training.

The implication of these findings is that short-term professional development, if well-designed to include the other important factors that lead to success—including pertinent subject matter, opportunities for active learning, and collaboration between colleagues—can be an effective tool for districts to choose when seeking to enhance their teachers’ abilities.

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