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Characteristics of Effective Professional-Development Programs In our survey of almost 200 programs, we found that professional-develop- ment activities for science teachers occur in a variety of institutions, including research universities, research institutes, comprehensive universities, liberal-arts colleges, community colleges, industrial settings, science centers, museums, and zoos. They have a wide range of formats, such as evening and weekend lectures, short and long summer workshops, and various one- to several-day followup activities. Some were directed to individual teachers, others were systemic. Irrespective of that variety, however, the programs involving scientists that were most effective, as judged by longevity and evaluations by program participants, had many of the following characteristics: · Scientists, teachers, and administrators collaborated in the program's de- velopment and implementation. · Participating teachers were treated as professionals. · The program was designed to meet important school-based needs. · Opportunities for continued involvement with program staff and other participants were provided. . gram. Evaluation was a continuous process and was used to improve the pro · New partnerships, projects, and networks were stimulated among particle patina teachers and between teachers and scientists. . · Program directors used effective publicity and recruitment strategies. · The program was encouraged and supported by school districts and school administrators. 26
CHARACTERISTICS OF PROFESSIONAL-DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS . Effective dissemination strategies were used. · Program directors had practical knowledge of the process of change. · A charismatic person or group provided strong leadership. 27 Scientists, teachers, and administrators collaborated in the program's de- velopment and implementation. All were involved in planning the program from the outset. Teachers and scientists worked in partnerships to determine the focus of the program and to develop laboratory activities appropriate to students' level of understanding. Teachers provided insight about the appropriateness of activi- ties for teachers' needs, creative ways of disseminating information about the program to improve participation, and advice regarding practical laboratory ac- tivities. Scientists helped the teachers to learn more science content and the processes of science which together can improve teaching and student learning. The scientists benefited from participation by gaining a better understanding of the school setting and respect for teachers. Many scientists from colleges and universities reported that their own teaching skills had improved because they had worked with outstanding K-12 teachers. Programs improved over time when former participants became part of the program' s leadership. Participating teachers were treated as professionals. The tone of a program as transmitted by its directors and instructors was critical to its success. Teachers welcomed and responded positively to the opportunity to meet and become col- leagues of scientists. Participants usually received stipends or honorariums (es- pecially during the summer), college or continuing-education credits, and access to needed supplies or equipment during the school year. Programs in which participants and scientists were treated as equals often developed collegial rela- tionships that extended beyond the program itself. Opportunities for continued involvement with program staff and other par- ticipants were provided. Regardless of a program's format, followup activities were necessary to extend and reinforce its content and teaching strategies. Followup opportunities allowed participants to continue and solidify their con- nections with their scientific and teaching colleagues and furthered the establish- ment of collaborations and partnerships. Followup activities included classroom visits by program staff, weekend events for alumni to share new laboratory projects and content, return visits by the participants to the laboratories of their mentors, weekly or monthly sessions for all participants to review progress on new teaching strategies or curriculum materials, establishment of newsletters and computer networks, and reunions for teachers at state and national professional conferences. A 1-week intensive course in biotechnology, for example, might use followup activities to help to solve practical problems and ensure that teachers are comfortable in implementing "wet" laboratory exercises. Visits to classrooms by scientists or technicians and reconvening of participants at a university, industrial site, professional-organiza
28 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE TEACHERS lion meeting, or convention allowed teachers to share their experiences with each other, to renew acquaintances, and to modify curricular materials. Followup activities must provide a support system for teachers who were using materials for the first time. Support might include an equipment-sharing consortium that provided equipment to teachers or a program coordinator who could assist teachers when they were doing the new laboratory exercises and, when necessary, suggest alternative activities. Computer networks were an ef- fective way to provide such support and keep teachers connected to each other and to scientists. Evaluation was a continuous process and was used to improve the program. Both informal and formal evaluation made it possible to obtain participants' responses and make adjustments in the activities. Through informal evaluation, specific difficulties were identified during the life of a program, and program organizers changed the program accordingly. Followup activities also provided program organizers with an opportunity to obtain information about the program's strengths and weaknesses. Regular self-evaluation enabled organizers to recog- nize situations where there was a need to alter the program to meet teachers' needs. New partnerships, projects, and networks were stimulated among participat- ing teachers and between teachers and scientists. Some programs provided lead- ership-training sessions for selected teachers. Those teachers then worked with colleagues in their home institutions or school districts to implement new teach- ing methods and curricula. The process often stimulated the creation of spinoff projects that gave teachers access to the equipment required to do laboratory investigations in their classrooms or to implement particular teaching strategies more effectively. In some cases, local companies or universities donated equip- ment. Partnerships between scientists and teachers were fostered by collabora- tion in planning both the initial program and followup activities. Program directors used effective publicity and recruitment strategies. The program had effective strategies for teachers to learn about it. Direct mailing to teachers and word of mouth were effective in creating interest. Successful pro- grams made advocates of their participants, who eagerly spread the word. Profes- sional organizations, such as the National Association of Biology Teachers and the National Science Teachers Association, and state and local organizations, such as a state science-teachers association and a local alliance, provided valu- able information about professional development. Some school districts used local newsletters to spread information about professional-development activi- ties. The program was encouraged and supported by school districts and school administrators. The program encouraged or even required a particular amount of administrative support or participation in its activities. Support ranged from providing a number of release days (paying for a substitute teacher's coverage of a classroom) to commitment to purchase instructional materials, equipment, or
CHARACTERISTICS OF PROFESSIONAL-DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS 29 supplies or holding a special session for administrators. Commitment and sup- port were contagious; some of the most effective advocates for effective continu- ing programs were district or school administrators, who encouraged teachers who usually did not participate in professional-development programs. Effective dissemination strategies were used. Such strategies assisted par- ticipants in spreading the program to other teachers. Followup sessions provided opportunities to practice dissemination strategies, such as workshop presenta- tions, facilitation skills, and practical implementation plans that helped teacher- leaders to become more effective in working with their colleagues. Providing financial, material, and networking access was important for effective program dissemination. Program directors had practical knowledge of the process of change. Un- derstanding some of the basic tenets of change helped to support both participants and their colleagues as they tried to implement in their classrooms what they learned. Program directors understood that the more important the curriculum and methodological change expected, the more difficult and time-consuming the process would be. A charismatic person or group provided strong leadership. In a single pro- gram, a school, or even a whole school district, education was improved through- out by virtue of the energy and dedication of a few teachers and scientists who listened to each other and were willing to share ideas. A successful program began with visionary, informed people who were able to take their message to the local community. Rather than being authoritarian or autocratic, those persons or small groups of them were able to convince skeptics of the value of the program and to sustain the program during the difficult beginning periods. Those desirable characteristics will guide the discussions about programs found in the rest of this report.