Identifier

etd-07062012-103459

Degree

Master of Natural Sciences (MNS)

Department

Natural Sciences (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to evaluate a professional development (PD) program for middle and high school teachers of mathematics and science which is funded by a $5 million National Science Foundation grant. The evaluation was internal and formative in nature and took place in two separate phases. The focus of the evaluation was not only on program improvement but also to extend the body of existing knowledge in the area of teacher professional development. Both the needs of project stakeholders and the findings of previous research in the areas of professional development and program evaluation were drawn on to help inform the framework and direction of the study. The objectives of phase one were to ascertain participants’ perceptions of program activities, identify program activities reported as having direct impact on classroom practice, and collect recommendations for program changes. Data were collected from the 2010 mathematics cohort through survey, a focus group, interviews, and content analysis of documents. Findings suggested the following activities influenced the professional beliefs of teachers and impacted their classroom practice: viewing familiar mathematics content in alternative ways, exposure to pedagogical strategies including the principles of learning and deliberate practice in conjunction with planning for implementation, observing peers present topics from the school curriculum, and individualized assignments with support provided in various forms. Numerous recommendations for program changes were made to the program director based on the analysis of participant feedback. The objective of phase two of the evaluation was to determine the strength of Desimone’s (2009) five features of effective PD in the program and their influence on teacher knowledge and practice, as reported by participating teachers. Fifty science and math teachers out of sixty-three current and past program cohort participants responded to an invitation to complete an online survey. A path analysis was conducted from the survey results and a formal causal model was estimated. Active learning, content focus, coherence and consequent enhanced knowledge and skills and changes in teacher practice were reported at moderate to high levels. Coherence and enhanced knowledge and skills appear have the strong interconnectedness with change in teacher practice.

Date

2012

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Madden, James

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