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Evaluating the effectiveness of a laboratory-based professional development program for science educators

Evaluating the effectiveness of a laboratory-based professional development program for science educators

Advances in Physiology Education 39(4): 341-351

The process of developing effective science educators has been a long-standing objective of the broader education community. Numerous studies have recommended not only depth in a teacher's subject area but also a breadth of professional development grounded in constructivist principles, allowing for successful student-centered and inquiry-based instruction. Few programs, however, have addressed the integration of the scientific research laboratory into the science classroom as a viable approach to professional development. Additionally, while occasional laboratory training programs have emerged in recent years, many lack a component for translating acquired skills into reformed classroom instruction. Given the rapid development and demand for knowledgeable employees and an informed population from the biotech and medical industries in recent years, it would appear to be particularly advantageous for the physiology and broader science education communities to consider this issue. The goal of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a laboratory-based professional development program focused on the integration of reformed teaching principles into the classrooms of secondary teachers. This was measured through the program's ability to instill in its participants elevated academic success while gaining fulfillment in the classroom. The findings demonstrated a significant improvement in the use of student-centered instruction and other reformed methods by program participants as well as improved self-efficacy, confidence, and job satisfaction. Also revealed was a reluctance to refashion established classroom protocols. The combination of these outcomes allowed for construction of an experiential framework for professional development in applied science education that supports an atmosphere of reformed teaching in the classroom.

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Accession: 057805702

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PMID: 26628658

DOI: 10.1152/advan.00088.2015

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