Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
7 Future Actions Major Actions Suggested by Workshop Participants Coordination within and among organizations, including coordination between teachers and teacher educators, is essential to improve chemistry education. Evaluations that commence at the beginning of chemistry education outreach programs, that examine failures as well as suc- cesses, and that are widely distributed are important for developing a knowledge base on which future programs can build. The development of a more effective teaching corps requires both ongoing professional development and careful attention to the recruitment and preparation of future chemistry teachers. A focus on the early stages of education and on family attitudes and involvement is an important component of a compre- hensive effort to improve U.S. science education. The final session of the workshop focused on what par- tion (NSF). âWhat I keep thinking of is how could we get ticipants thought should be done next. What actions should better coordination of all these wonderful projects? We canât be taken, who should take those actions, and how could have a conference like this every month.â they be funded? Although opinions on some issues varied, Coordination is needed on many levels, Prival said. participants at the workshop identified and elaborated on the Activities have to be coordinated within an institution so that need for several broad initiatives. These actions represent the people know what others are doing. Sometimes an organiza- opinions of a panel and of various workshop participants and tion may be geographically distributed, as in the case of the do not represent consensus recommendations. schools in a district. For example, decisions about profes- sional development or the structure of a school day can be made in one part of a district that significantly affect the daily COORDINATING EFFORTS lives of teachers throughout the district. âWe have heard lots of examples of interesting projects Coordination across institutions can encompass institu- that are going on and efforts that range from more formal tions that are similar or dissimilar. For example, coordination professional development to more informal kinds of outreach across industry, private foundations, colleges and universities, projects,â said Joan Prival of the National Science Founda- and schools is necessary to improve some aspects of chem- 36
FUTURE ACTIONS 37 istry education. âThatâs a big challenge,â said Prival. One wait until the end to do summative evaluation. Do formative way to coordinate activities across organizations is through evaluation all during it to improve your program as it pro- partnerships, which offer the prospect of âincreasing the ceeds. This is really critical.â In addition, evaluations should coherence and lowering the noise in the system,â said Gerry look not just at what worked but at what can be improved. Wheeler of the National Science Teachers Association. âThat can improve your next program and help others avoid Mentoring is a kind of partnership that can be especially similar pitfalls.â A theoretical perspective is needed to inform valuable for teachers. âTeaching is a very lonely profession,â the design of a program and its evaluation. For example, said Bill Carroll of Occidental Chemical Corporation. âItâs Gilmer recommended a recent book by George Bodner and kind of like being a stand-up comedian and doing six shows MaryKay Orgill that is devoted to describing and critiquing a night. Itâs just you standing up there.â the theoretical frameworks used by chemistry education and Also, chemistry teachers need to be recruited to par- science education more broadly. ticipate in teacher outreach and professional development A broader problem, according to Wheeler, is that educa- opportunities, Sandra Laursen of the University of Colorado tion lacks a model of progress. Partly for this reason, data at Boulder pointed out. Some teachers are willing to spend demonstrating the lack of effectiveness of one-day or two- a Saturday or an entire week or two developing their skills day training sessions in science teaching do not keep such for fairly little compensation, because they are interested and sessions from being offered. Education researchers need a motivated. Yet many other teachers typically do not attend way to determine what does not work. Wheeler said that workshops or other professional development activities. principal investigators of programs that do not work should Ways need to be found to attract this more representative release information about the program and what went wrong group of teachers, especially to the more specialized activi- so that others can learn from the experience. If such informa- ties that go beyond what can be done in large programs. One tion cannot be released publicly, at least it can be discussed way to reach these teachers, suggested Prival, is to train on listservs among individuals involved in designing and teacher leaders who can reach out to all of the teachers in delivering programs. Education needs a âculture of criti- a school, both through site-based professional development cism,â said Wheeler. and by encouraging teachers to become involved in activities In addition, inquiry-based teaching is a topic that needs outside the school. Wheeler suggested thinking more like a greater investigation, Wheeler said. The idea has many dif- business in encouraging teachers and offering them incen- ferent definitions and many ways of being implemented. tives to attend professional development activities. âYou have It may not work in every situation with every child. There to give them a reason to show.â may be a role for other teaching approaches, including Out-of-school programs for students also need to be direct instruction. Furthermore, as Hai-Lung Dai of Temple considered, said Rena Subotnik of the American Psycho- University pointed out, inquiry-based instruction requires logical Society, because these can have a profound effect on teachers who know the content well, which emphasizes the students. Many students who are excited about science take close connection between content knowledge and pedagogy. advantage of such programs, but many more students do not Prival emphasized that the outcomes of education are the have access to them, especially in parts of the country where ultimate objective, and there are different possible pathways out-of-school programs are not located nearby. to reach that objective. Wheeler cautioned against setting up a dichotomy between inquiry and something else. âMost good teachers in fact have IDENTIFYING AND DISSEMINATING SUCCESSFUL a whole bunch of tricks in their bags. When they are trying PRACTICES to break a misconception, that strategy is entirely different Government agencies, including NSF and the National than when they are trying to do something abstract like Institutes of Health (NIH), are strongly encouraging program control of variables with fourth graders. Itâs much more of designers and practitioners to include evaluation in the design a continuum.â and implementation of their programs. âYou would never Eric Jakobsson from the University of Illinois urged NSF start on a research project without knowing whatâs going on and the Department of Education to invest funds in research in the field, without being aware of the literature, and without to determine the best approaches to pedagogy for chemistry. communicating with your colleagues,â said Prival. Program Prival responded that the NSF is funding such research. She leaders need to approach evaluation âseriously as a scholarly added that most people probably would not write up their effort.â In many cases, this will require partnerships between failures, though some of that information may be in their natural scientists, social scientists, and educators. annual reports. It is important to consider evaluation at the beginning of a program, because that influences the programâs design, George M. Bodner and MaryKay Orgill. 2007. Theoretical Frameworks said Penny Gilmer of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching. âThen once you have started it, donât for Research in Chemistry/Science Education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
38 STRENGTHENING HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY EDUCATION The techniques of corporate America should be applied Finally, professional development sessions have the to the design, implementation, and evaluation of programsâ potential to waste billions of dollars. Most âhave nothing including those sponsored by corporations, Wheeler said. If to do with student learning and almost nothing to do with one plant is making progress and another is failing, busi- teaching quality,â said Crowe. A much more important nesses shut down the failing plant. âNonprofit is a tax status,â consideration may be hiring practices. Studies have dem- he said, ânot a business plan.â Educators need to find models onstrated that major differences in teaching quality and that work and are sustainable, rather than seeking to do the student achievement can come from changing who is hired same thing when results show that conventional approaches in a school district. Mentoring and induction programs are not working. also can make a big difference for new teachers. In addi- Participants discussed strengthening teacher certification tion, the leadership of individual schools is becoming more requirements but did not agree on what should be done. Some important, as many urban districts have begun to distribute urged stricter requirements, whereas others said that such authority, responsibility, and even budgets to individual requirements can keep good teachers out of the classroom. principals. Also, it is almost always possible for states to work around Once teachers have participated in a professional devel- federal mandates. opment activity, they need continued support, said Prival. Successful practices need not be identified only through Teachers need help to implement what they have learned, formal and rigorous evaluations, said Prival. Things that which often requires follow-up work by an educational people have learned in setting up partnerships and carry- program. Also, isolation can occur in any school district. ing out projects can be very valuable for someone engaged Teachers need enough experience to know that when they in a related activity. Ways need to found of sharing those encounter a problem they can pick up a phone and find practices. Papers, electronic journals, and other forms of someone to help them solve it, said Hratch Semerjian of the publication are outlets for such information. For example, Council for Chemical Research. Also, said Carroll, retirees monographs with chapters written by participants in a pro- around the country could help break down that isolation gram can provide valuable insights, but many other kinds of by assisting in schools, especially at the middle school or communication and forms of dissemination are possible. For elementary school level. example, a Web-based dissemination system could provide Teachers need to know what content it is important to access to a wide variety of formal and informal resources. âIf master both before entering teaching and while engaged in you have teachers in a Web site where they can interact with the profession and how best to convey content to students. each other, they read each otherâs comments, they get ideas, However, content and pedagogy are often inseparable, as and they have to put these ideas together, thatâs part of learn- Kirchhoff pointed out. âThe appropriate approach is just as ing,â said Gilmer. Prival mentioned that NSF could look for important as the content, and they go hand in hand.â a grantee to provide such a service for chemistry education. Disciplinary majors are proving to be rich pools of Mary Kirchhoff of the American Chemical Society suggested future teachers. If pedagogy courses can be integrated into that the ChemEd pathway of the National Science Digital the preparation of chemistry majors interested in teaching, Library could be the possible base of such a repository. either in four years or during a fifth year of preparation, they can become very effective teachers. This approach requires that college and university faculty acknowledge SUPPORTING TEACHERS AND TEACHING teaching as a valuable future profession for chemistry stu- Edward Crowe referred to several leverage points that can dents, which âis a big change in the culture,â said Prival. help produce change. First, more than 1,000 colleges and A further need is to professionalize chemistry teaching universities train teachers, and working with those institu- through better pay and other measures of respect, so that tions is essential to improve the effectiveness of the teaching teachers have an identity both as chemists and as teachers. force. Another approach is to identify bright and committed âIt is very important for them to be able to be treated as chemistry majors and work with them on their teaching professionals and have time in their work space for them to skills. Teachers need solid preparation to be able to teach at communicate, to visit each otherâs classrooms, and to share high levels. Short-term workshops can get teachers excited what they are doing.â and give them ideas to use in the classroom, but they cannot An important way to support teachers is to provide them make up for a lack of content and pedagogical knowledge with pre-service education that can be applied directly in the and training. classroom. Pre-service teachers also need the direct involve- Second, if assessments were more sophisticated, teaching ment with research that has proven valuable for in-service to the test would be a virtue. Crowe said, âWhat we could teachers, said Prival. If teachers come into the profession do is connect better learning outcomes and drive teaching with strong content knowledge, they will need less profes- toward those outcomes by having better assessment.â sional development than would be the case otherwise.
FUTURE ACTIONS 39 BUILDING A BASE FOR SUCCESS remedial education. In many cases, this remedial education is essential even for students in science classes who need help One approach to solving a problem is to build backward with basic mathematics and reading to succeed. Temple has to its source, said Dai. Today, more than half of the chemistry recently started administering mathematics placement tests graduate students in U.S. colleges and universities are from to all incoming students, and about 15 percent of the incom- abroad. Also, knowledge and understanding of chemistry ing students fail at a ninth-grade level of mathematics. âThis are low among the general public. Why do other cultures is the state of American education,â said Dai. do a much better job of science education while spending Finally, Marshall Lih from NSF said that more direct less money on education? Dai felt that a cross-cultural study involvement and influence on families will be necessary to might be able to determine the answer. solve some of the educational issues America faces. Parents Dai suggested two solutions to the problem of inadequate and families have such a strong influence on the knowl- chemistry education in the United States: going back to basics edge and attitudes of their children that the issue cannot be and starting earlier. If the problem is in high school, the solu- ignored. Talking about families is âa very sensitive issue,â tion may lie in middle school or elementary school. Faculty Lih acknowledged, but âfamily is important, and parental at Temple have found that more students arrive having taken guidance is very important.â advanced placement (AP) classes and more arrive needing