Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 4:25 PM
RITES PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: A PATHWAY TO STATEWIDE GAINS IN STEM LITERACY FOR MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
The RI Technology Enhanced Science project (RITES) provides supplemental Professional Development (PD) to 5th through 12th grade science teachers throughout Rhode Island that emphasizes the innovative use of technology and best teaching practices. The premise is that RITES’ PD will result in more effective STEM teaching, which will in turn generate gains in student achievement. RITES has accomplished this primarily during the summer through short courses
that occur over two years. Resource teams, which consist of a paired K-12 science teacher and a higher education science faculty member, develop them. This PD is designed to be standards-based and compliant with NGSS standards, which Rhode Island has committed to adopt. The heart of the short course
is a free online investigation, developed by the co-instructors, which the trained teachers use in their science classrooms. Over 50 such investigations have been created over the past 4 years of the project, of which 33% are related to earth, ocean or space sciences; examples include field, lab and computer modeling of authentic earthquake and climate data. They may be accessed at http://www.ritesproject.net.
Evaluation includes a diverse palette of instruments—some of which are embedded in software used by students in investigations—that permit documentation of changes in teacher efficacy and student gains in STEM literacy. After four years we see statistically significant gains in students’ inquiry-based approaches to STEM problem solving and “thinking like a scientist”, and shifts in teacher’s best practices. More generally, the results show an effective and innovative PD model for science teachers that demonstrates significant content learning gains in teachers and very high levels of satisfaction reported by both participating teachers and by resource team members leading the courses.