THE RITES MODEL: G6-12 AND HIGHER EDUCATION PARTNERSHIP WORKING TO IMPROVE SCIENCE EDUCATION IN RHODE ISLAND
CAULKINS, Joshua L., Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, 9 Greenhouse Road, Tyler Hall, Kingston, RI 02881, MURRAY, Daniel P., Department of Geosciences, Univ. of Rhode Island, 337 Woodward Hall, Kingston, RI 02881, DE OLIVEIRA, Glenisson, Physical Sciences, Rhode Island College, Clarke Science, 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence, RI 02908 and VEEGER, Anne I., Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rhode Island Technology Enhanced Science Project (RITES) is a NSF-funded Math and Science Partnership grant with a mandate to improve science pedagogy in middle and high school science classrooms statewide. RITES has established a unique professional development (PD) model that is standards-based, technology-enhanced, inquiry-rich, and aligned with teacher Grade Span Expectations (GSE). The model is implemented through a partnership in which resource team pairs (one teacher from G6-12, one from higher education) co-design and co-teach a 2.5-day short course on a specific content area. To date, the partnership has engaged 28 higher education faculty and researchers from four Rhode Island institutions of higher learning and 25 teachers from 14 Rhode Island school districts as resource team instructors. The heart of a short course is a free online investigation, developed by the co-instructors, which the trained teachers will use in their science classrooms. Over 50 classroom-ready investigations have been created over the past 4 years of the project, of which 33% are related to earth, ocean or space sciences. ESS example investigations cover topics such as plate tectonics, radioactivity, beach evolution, the rock cycle, earthquakes, and astronomy. The investigations themselves are highly interactive and model science practices that encourage students to support scientific claims with evidence.
We will present research conducted on the short courses that includes pre-post testing of the science teachers taking the courses as well as results of Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) data collected by observers in the short courses. Teacher satisfaction data will be presented as well. Taken together, the results show an effective and innovative PD model for science teachers that demonstrates significant content learning gains in teachers (9 of 11 short courses had average normalized learning gains >= 0.3 in 2011) and very high levels of satisfaction reported by both participating teachers and by resource team members leading the courses. The success of the RITES PD has implications for other science education programs interested in improving science practices through partnerships between higher education and G6-12 stakeholders.