USING AUTHENTIC RESEARCH EXPERIENCES TO IMPROVE STEM EDUCATION IN THE K-12 ENVIRONMENT
Assessment of the program included focus groups as well as a rubric-based review of the final teacher poster projects. Focus groups inquired about teacher perceptions of scientific research, TRPP expectations, challenges related to conducting scientific research, potential impacts on their own classrooms, and changes in personal confidence for conducting research with students. The reviews of the final posters looked for evidence of a solid use of the scientific method and a systematic presentation of the context, methodology and results of the research. Year 1 results found evidence of an improved understanding of scientific research, enhanced knowledge of key research concepts (such as error, variance, and study limitations), increased confidence in conducting research, and in general, a positive perception of the TRPP experience with increased expectations for classroom integration of what had been learned.
In years 2 – 5, we will ramp up project participation to at least 15 Teacher-Researcher pairs, increase the range of STEM research offered, expand and refine project assessment and involve more UNO STEM researcher participants.