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Annual Report Overviews


Missouri - Iowa Science Co-operatives Project Annual Overview

published: 12/07/2001
posted to site: 12/07/2001

Missouri - Iowa Science Co-operatives Project
Annual Report Overview

Activities and Findings

Research and Education Activities:

  1. help school districts transform their K-6 science program into an inquiry program that is consistent with NSES, state standards, and research on how children think and learn;
  2. help school district teams learn how to select, adapt, and implement instructional units from existing innovative science programs;
  3. improve the science content knowledge and instructional practices of all K-6 teachers in the participating school districts on the science units selected;
  4. collect evidence of the impact of the district's reform effort to share with school boards, parents, and community groups;
  5. create a newtwork of teachers, students, and parents within and across Co-op school districts to capitalize on a larger, shared expertise;
  6. create an infrastructure of teaching staff and resource material support to ensure long-term, cost-effective systemic reform.

Year 2 of the project introduced additional levels of complexity to the project by decentralizing the summer professional development into seven regional workshops. A template was developed in terms of general content, requirements, structures and costs; evaluation of workshop schedules showed that this was maintained. The greatest differences in the workshops was due to the variance of numbers of advocates and partners within each of the regions. Evaluation of the 2001 summer workshops indicated that the elementary teacher participants were very satisfied with the professional development. Advocate and partner forms indicated that more time was needed to insure that they understood and were able to carry out their responsibilities and that the physical facilities of the site influenced the structure and flexibility of the workshops. All the partners were required to videotape teaching sessions and submit them for analysis. From the analysis, eight secondary/elementary partnership teams were selected for follow-up interviews. The results of these interviews indicated that many of the secondary teachers believed that inquiry was good for the elementary teachers but difficult to implement in the secondary school. The secondary teachers who actively implemented some form of inquiry within their own classrooms moved past being a resource person for the elementary teachers and engaged in more discussions about pedagogy and curriculum, and those who engaged the elementary teachers in broader discussions became more involved with helping construct a coherent K-6 scope and sequence for science within their district. A significant component of the project's school year activities were conducted via Interactive Television (ITV). The ITV system allows for real-time interaction across the school districts in Missouri and Iowa while bridging two distinctly separate carriers: the T1 lines of Missouri and the fiber-optic network in Iowa. Per plan, the primary goals of the ITV sessions are to enhance the science content knowledge of elementary school teachers and to reinforce and extend instructional strategies emphasized in the project. Data collection and assessment of the interactive sessions utilized an online survey completed after the sessions. Eight teachers from the three states participated in the baseline survey over the course of the twelve ITV sessions. The majority of respondents came from Iowa (69.1%) and 45.7% have been teaching for more than 20 years while 27.2% were within their first five years of teaching. Because of the use of ITV, 79% were able to learn and experience situations they felt they would not have otherwise been able to in a traditional face-to-face situation. A clear majority (69.1%) valued the experience provided. Moreover, 63% learned new science content in the sessions they attended.

Training and Development

Our Year 2 cycle of activity began this past summer with the participation of 541 teachers in 7 regional, one-week workshops. Staffs consisting of co-PIs, consultants, scientists, advocates, and partners and a local support person conducted the workshops. With the transition from a leadership team to the participation of 50% of all K-6 teachers in the Year 2 cycle, the school year activities this year now focus on district level curriculum frameworks and assessments per plan. As a result, an administrator or curriculum coordinator at each of the 39 school districts and a regional field support person has been added to the local leadership teams. The weekly interactive television seminars are continuing throughout the school year as planned and a series of two-day leadership training workshops for advocates and partners will be conducted this spring in the preparation for the Year 3 summer workshops. Finally, 105 of the teacher participants have enrolled in a master's degree program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis slated to run concurrently with and build on the professional development provided in the remaining four years of the project.

Outreach Activities:

The project has been identified as one of Iowa's state initiatives in elementary science by the Department of Education and as such it qualifies for in-kind staff support (described previously). Project leaders have made presentations at both the Iowa and Misouri state science education conferences this fall. In addition, the project website was re-designed this past summer with multiple levels of access and input for users. The website contains a complete listing of project staff and participants, descriptions of project activities, and menus of interactive television seminars.