2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM

Wallpaper or Instructional Aids: Teacher's Perceptions and Use of Science Wall-Posters Produced by the Science Community

HUBENTHAL, Michael, IRIS Consortium, 1200 New York Ave., Ste. 800, Washington, DC 20005, STEDMAN, Larry, School of Education, Binghamton University, PO Box 6000, Binghamton, NY 13833 and TABER, John, IRIS Consortium, 1200 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20005, hubenth@iris.edu

Education and outreach efforts associated with government science organizations and not-for-profit research consortia produce content related wall-posters. The audience of such posters is not always clearly defined, but dissemination patterns suggest that the science community views wall-posters as a convenient method of communicating scientific concepts primarily to students and teachers, and secondarily to the general public. While demand for scientific wall-posters within the education community exists, questions regarding their use and role in the educational process are largely unanswered. Are posters just “wallpaper” for bleak classrooms and "advertising" for the science organization? Or do posters have value in the educational process? To explore these questions, this issue-focused case study documents; a) the use of wall-posters developed by the science community once distributed, and b) teachers' perceptions and strategies for wall-posters as part of the educational process.

Results of the study reveal that 93% of teachers hung at least one poster distributed at professional development workshops and a significant variability in use of individual posters. Teachers attributed such variability to differences in specific content and aesthetics. Teacher interviews also provided novel insight into the how and why of poster use in the classroom from which a user-based definition of effectiveness can be developed. This definition suggests that classrooms represent a specialized venue for posters with needs not met by the science community's current paradigm of poster design. Thus, to more closely align the design of posters to actual classroom use; a) wall-posters should support teachers as communicators of content and support specific science teaching strategies where appropriate, b) wall-posters must have clear connections with the curriculum, c) explanatory text and small figures should be transferred to poster websites to accommodate self-directed student learning, c) large iconic imagery should be featured, and d) an online “teachers' guide” should accompany posters