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Paper: Exploring Outcomes for Teachers Who Engage in Astronomical Research with Scientists
Volume: 443, Earth and Space Science: Making Connections in Education and Public Outreach
Page: 223
Authors: Buxner, S. R.
Abstract: Research on science teacher professional development over the last fifteen years has found that an effective way to engage teachers in science is by providing opportunities for them to engage in authentic research alongside scientists. Several studies and evaluations have reported that teacher participation in research experiences results in increased excitement in science, science content knowledge, and intentions to use what they have learned in the classroom. This study investigated teachers who participated in two summer astronomy research programs during which they conducted research alongside scientists. Both of these programs occurred “in the field,” one in a national park and one at a major observatory. The main areas of investigation were related to changes in teachers understandings of scientific inquiry and nature of science, their beliefs about science teaching, and the value of the experience. Data included surveys, interviews, and program observations. Participants completed surveys before and after the program as well as during the school year after teachers had returned to their classroom. Follow-up interviews were conducted with a subset of the participants six to eight months after the program was completed. Results indicated that although small changes were detected in target aspects of scientific inquiry and nature of science, teachers did not make large changes in their overall understandings of scientific inquiry and the nature of science as a result of participation in the summer research programs. In addition, teachers increased in the sophistication and context for their understandings taken directly from their research experiences. Changes to teachers’ beliefs about teaching varied depending on the experience of the teacher. Results also showed that benefits for participants included access to educational resources, the uniqueness of the experience, and a sense of improved credibility among their peers.
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