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Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 10:45 AM


PICKERING, Jane1, AGUE, Jay J.2, HEISER, David Mangold1, RATH, Kenneth, A.3 and SIRCH, James1, (1)Peabody Museum, Yale University, 170 Whitney Ave, New Haven, CT 06511, (2)Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, PO Box 208109, New Haven, CT 06520-8109, (3)Sage Fox Consulting Group, 30 Boltwood Drive, Amherst, MA 01002,

Research consistently demonstrates that teacher expertise and quality is a critical, if not the critical, factor in student success. The Peabody Fellows in Earth Science program served 50 middle- and high-school educators with the aim of improving their skills in teaching the Earth Sciences. Museum staff, together with teachers, developed curricula materials that focused on the interpretation of landforms that result from constructive and destructive geologic forces. During an intensive, content-rich institute, teachers learned how to use these hands-on materials in their classroom.

An integral part of the program was extensive quantitative evaluation of both teacher and student learning that resulted from the teachers’ participation in the program. Teacher learning was explored using pre-institute, post-institute, and post-program surveys. The results indicated that teachers’ perception of the program’s support of their classroom efforts was strongly positive, and that the program increased their comfort and aptitude in teaching the Earth Sciences and their commitment to build their knowledge of these topics.

Student learning was assessed using multiple-choice questions and short-answer science process skills questions. A key aspect of our program was that the test was administered three times: a ‘baseline’ post-test, a pre-test, and a post-test. Data was collected from approximately 1,150 students. There was a highly statistically significant difference between students’ performance on the pre- and post-tests indicating knowledge gain as a result of the curriculum. Most interestingly, however, was the comparison between pre- and post-tests from 2009 – 2010 and the baseline post-tests given in the spring of 2009, prior to the teachers’ participation in the program. For 70% of the teachers, the data shows a highly statistically significant difference between students’ performance on the baseline post-test and the post-test. This indicates (assuming students are comparable from one year to the next) that the students both learned the material and they learned it better than their peers from the previous year. These results demonstrate that this type of in-depth professional development program has a significant impact on both teacher and student learning.

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