little information is available on the effectiveness of these efforts. Further research is needed to evaluate these and other efforts to link scientists with K-12 education.

We do not yet know how best to develop the knowledge and skills that teachers require to lead laboratory experiences that help students master science subject matter, develop scientific reasoning skills, and attain the other goals of laboratory education. Further research is needed to examine the scope and effectiveness of the many individual programs and initiatives. Because efforts to improve teachers’ ability to lead improved laboratory experiences are strongly influenced by the organization and administration of their schools, the following section addresses this larger context.

SUPPORTING LABORATORY TEACHING

The poor quality of laboratory experiences of most high school students today results partly from the challenges that laboratory teaching and learning pose to school administrators. In this section we describe the difficulty school administrators encounter when they try to support effective laboratory teaching.

Supporting Teachers with Professional Development

School administrators have a strong influence on whether high school science teachers receive the professional development opportunities needed to develop the knowledge and skills we have identified. Providing more focused, effective, and sustained professional development activities for more science teachers requires not only substantial financial resources and knowledge of effective professional development approaches, but also a coherent, coordinated approach at the school and district level.

Some school and school district officials may be reluctant to invest in sustained professional development for science teachers because they fear losing their investments if trained teachers leave for other jobs. Younger workers in a variety of occupations change jobs more frequently than their older counterparts (National Research Council, 1999). However, compared with other types of professionals, a higher proportion of teachers leave their positions each year. In response to surveys conducted in the mid-1990s, teachers indicated that, among the reasons they left their positions—including retirement, layoffs, and family reasons—dissatisfaction was one of the most important. Mathematics and science teachers reported more frequently than other teachers that job dissatisfaction was the reason they left their jobs. And, among teachers who left because of job dissatisfaction, mathematics and science teachers reported more frequently than other teachers that they left because of “poor administrative support” (Ingersoll, 2003, p. 7). The



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement