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Volume 20  Issue 4  

Qualitative Research on the Influence of Engineering Professional Development on Teacher Self-Efficacy in a Rural K-5 Setting

by Kelly Ficklin, Michele Parker & Tammy Shaw-Ferguson
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As part of an embedded mixed-method study, qualitative research was conducted to understand how Engineering Is Elementary (EiE) professional development influenced the self-efficacy of K-5 elementary teachers required to teach engineering in a rural school in Southeastern, North Carolina. In fall 2016, proportional stratified sampling was used to select 14 teachers by grade level and specialty area who participated in EiE training. Teachers were interviewed to obtain in-depth information about their perceived self-efficacy. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed for content by person, by interview questions, and across all interviews using narrative data analysis methods. The data showed three themes: (a) teachers feel preparation programs lack STEM training, (b) integrating engineering is achievable in the K-5 classroom, and (c) professional support is an issue in improving this engineering initiative. The results demonstrated how elementary educators’ self-efficacy evolved while engaging in professional development to prepare to teach engineering. Implications for educational practice and research are provided.

Volume 20  Issue 4  

Teacher Self-Efficacy in a Rural K-5 Setting: Quantitative Research on the Influence Of Engineering Professional Development

by Michele Parker, Kelly Ficklin & Margaret Mishra
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This study investigated the influence of Engineering Is Elementary (EiE) professional development on teachers’ self-efficacy of integrating engineering into the K-5 curriculum in a rural school district in southeastern North Carolina. In fall 2016, the researchers conducted an embedded mixed-method study. The focus of this paper is the quantitative aspect of the study, which involved using the engineering components of the T-STEM survey to measure teachers’ self-efficacy via Qualtrics. The survey was used to compare teachers’ self-efficacy before and following EiE professional development and 4 weeks after the last EiE intervention. Forty-three teachers completed these online questionnaires. Across the three intervals, the results of the repeated measures were statistically significant. There were increases in teachers’ (a) engineering teaching efficacy and beliefs, (b) engineering teaching outcome expectancy, and (c) engineering instruction. Teachers’ self-efficacy toward engineering was likely influenced by EiE professional development. The findings suggest that elementary teachers’ self-efficacy about integrating engineering into the curriculum can increase by offering EiE professional development over time. This study can help inform future education policy, practice, and research.

Volume 20  Issue 3  

Toward a Productive Definition of Technology in Science and STEM Education

by Joshua Ellis, Jeanna Wieselmann, Ramya Sivaraj, Gillian Roehrig, Emily Dare & Elizabeth Ring-Whalen
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The lack of a definition of the T in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) acronym is pervasive, and it is often the teachers of STEM disciplines who inherit the task of defining the role of technology within their K-12 classrooms. These definitions often vary significantly, and they have profound implications for curricular and instructional goals within science and STEM classrooms. This theoretical paper summarizes of technology initiatives across science and STEM education from the past 30 years to present perspectives on the role of technology in science-focused STEM education. The most prominent perspectives describe technology as the following: (a) vocational education, industrial arts, or the product of engineering, (b) educational or instructional technology, (c) computing or computational thinking, and (d) the tools and practices used by practitioners of science, mathematics, and engineering. We have identified the fourth perspective as the most salient with respect to K-12 science and STEM education. This particular perspective is in many ways compatible with the other three perspectives, but this depends heavily on the beliefs, prior experiences, and instructional goals of teachers who use technology in their science or STEM classroom.

Volume 20  Issue 2  

Electrifying: One Teacher’s Discursive and Instructional Changes Through Engagement in E-Textiles to Teach Science Content

by Colby Tofel-Grehl, Eliza Jex, Kristin Searle, Douglas Ball, Xin Zhao & Georgia Burnell
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This paper shares findings from the first of its kind quasi-experimental mixed methods study exploring the potential impacts on teacher instruction through engagement with making and e-textiles. Because engagement in hands-on inquiry has demonstrated strong promise for increasing student interest and engagement in STEM careers, finding curricular approaches that engage students in project-based learning remains important. As such, the Maker Movement and making has gained traction as a possible effort to improve such outcomes. This study shares outcomes from analyses of one teacher’s first engagement with teaching eighth-grade science through e-textiles. Four of his classes were taught using his traditional science curriculum while four of his classes were taught with an equivalently designed e-textiles curriculum. Findings indicated that his instruction during e-textiles classes was different in terms of classroom discourse opportunities and engagement. Specifically, students taught in classes with e-textile were afforded more opportunities to engage their own questions with the teacher and engage on a more personal level with him.

Volume 20  Issue 1  

Preservice Science Teachers’ Beliefs About Computational Thinking Following a Curricular Module Within an Elementary Science Methods Course

by J. Randy McGinnis, Emily Hestness, Kelly Mills, Diane Jass Ketelhut, Lautaro Cabrera & Hannoori Jeong
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The authors describe their study of a curricular module on computational thinking (CT) implemented within an elementary science methods course and reported insights on preservice science teachers’ (PSTs’) beliefs about CT integration. The research question was, “Following participation in a curricular module on CT, what is the nature of PSTs’ beliefs about CT integration in their elementary science classrooms?” The authors designed and implemented a three-class-session CT module within an undergraduate elementary science methods course. They observed and collected field notes on PSTs’ (N = 39) participation in the module, along with class artifacts. They examined the data to gain insight into PSTs’ perceptions of CT integration in elementary science education, its feasibility, and its value for their own teaching practice. They found that PSTs overwhelmingly supported the pedagogical innovation of integrating CT in their science teaching; they appreciated that CT modernized and made science education engaging for young learners; and, they generally believed that CT integration supported the implementation of what they understood as good science teaching practice. However, the PSTs believed they would face a variety of challenges in their efforts to integrate CT into their science teaching. Implications for CT teacher education are discussed.

Volume 19  Issue 4  

Using Virtual Reality to Augment Museum-Based Field Trips in a Preservice Elementary Science Methods Course

by Jason R. Harron, Anthony J. Petrosino & Sarah Jenevein
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Positioned in the context of experiential learning, this paper reports findings of a virtual reality field trip (VRFT) in conjunction with an in-person field trip involving preservice teachers in an elementary science methods course to a local natural history museum. Findings included that virtual reality (VR) is best used after a field trip to encourage student recall of the experience, but only when done for a limited time to avoid VR fatigue. The types of experiences that preservice teachers thought VR would be good for in their science classrooms included the ability to visit either inaccessible or unsafe locations, to explore scales of size that are either too big or too small, and to witness different eras or events at varying temporal scales. Furthermore, this study uncovered potential equity issues related to VRFTs being seen as a viable alternative if students could not afford to go on field trips. Further research needs to be conducted to better understand the impact of VRFTs on student learning outcomes and take advantage of recent improvements in VR technology.

Volume 19  Issue 4  

Robotics Integration for Learning With Technology

by Jiangmei Yuan, ChanMin Kim, Rogers Hill & Dongho Kim
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This qualitative study examined how preservice elementary teachers integrated robotics into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) lesson designs and why they designed their lessons in a particular way. Participants’ lesson designs were collected, and semistructured interviews were conducted. The authors analyzed lesson designs to examine how participants integrated robotics into their lesson designs and interviews to explore why they designed their lessons in a particular way. Our findings suggest that, in general, preservice elementary teachers designed lessons for student learning with technology. Only one lesson was for student learning from technology. The rest were for student learning with technology or applied a mixed approach that supported both student learning with and from technology. Preservice teachers’ lesson designs seemed to have been influenced by their pleasant struggles during robot design, collaboration experience, robotics integration knowledge, STEM content knowledge, and conception of STEM integration. Implications for teacher education are presented.

Volume 19  Issue 3  

Using Digital Science Notebooks to Support Elementary Student Learning: Lessons and Perspectives From a Fifth-Grade Science Classroom

by Angelina Constantine & Karl G. Jung
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The exploratory case study described in this paper examined the experiences of an elementary science teacher as he integrated iPads into his teaching. With the intent of finding a purposeful use for the district’s 1:1 iPad initiative in his science classroom, he adopted digital science notebooks for the first time. During planning sessions alongside an instructional coach, this teacher worked to harness the maximum potential of the digital notebooks’ capabilities to support his students’ science learning. Data collected from coaching conversations, observations, student notebooks, and a stimulated recall interview uncovered the ways the teacher planned for digital science notebooks and how he could use them to support student science learning. Findings show that structured page templates for students’ notebooks modified from previous work helped this teacher successfully incorporate the digital notebooks to enhance his students’ learning beyond what a traditional composition notebook can provide. Furthermore, the teacher’s perceptions of his experience with digital notebooks was overwhelmingly positive. He considered the value of digital notebooks to be superior to traditional notebooks and shared recommendations for other teachers who may also be considering using digital science notebooks for the first time.

Volume 19  Issue 3  

Use of Schema Theory and Multimedia Technology to Explore Preservice Students’ Cognitive Resources During an Earth Science Activity

by Catherine L. Quinlan
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Meaningful integration of multimedia technology into the three-dimensional learning promoted by the Next Generation Science Standards (i.e., Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas) is critical in helping students to understand science. Furthermore, preservice teachers need to be able to engage in argument from evidence, as recommended by the National Research Council, before they can help students develop argumentation in the classroom setting. This study explored the dialogic arguments and conversations of five female African American preservice graduate elementary education students enrolled in a science methods course. Students carried out a Crime Scene Investigation Toolkit in Earth science that was created by the New York Hall of Science. Schema theory and Marshall’s (1995) knowledge types provide an explanatory framework to explore and explain participants’ dialogue. The findings show that schema theory has implications for understanding participants’ cognitive resources during an activity that integrated multimedia technology resources within a three-dimensional science investigation. The use of schema theory as a framework shed light on participants’ dialogues and was important in understanding how to integrate multimedia technology meaningfully into the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards.

Volume 19  Issue 2  

Reflections of Rube Goldberg Machines on the Prospective Science Teachers’ STEM Awareness

by İsa Deveci
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The purpose of this study is to examine reflections of the design process of the Rube Goldberg machines on prospective science teachers’ STEM awareness. A mixed design approach was opted for in this research. Data were obtained using learning diaries and a STEM awareness scale. Quantitative data was analyzed using a paired samples test. Content analysis was also used for dealing with the qualitative data. The results showed that, based on the findings obtained from both forms of data, Rube Goldberg machines have a positive influence on the STEM awareness of prospective science teachers. The prospective science teachers who took part in this research explained that Rube Goldberg machines are particularly effective in learning science concepts related to simple machines, although it was not one of the purposes of this research. Consequently, future research could be conducted to examine the effectiveness of Rube Goldberg machines in learning basic science concepts related to simple machines.

Volume 19  Issue 1  

Mentoring the Mentors: Hybridizing Professional Development to Support Cooperating Teachers’ Mentoring Practice in Science

by Josie Melton, Matthew Miller & Joseph Brobst
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This article describes key features of a hybrid professional development (PD) program that was designed to prepare elementary classroom teachers to mentor preservice teachers for effective science instruction. Five classroom teachers who were new to our mentor training participated in the study to document the impacts of the PD sequence. The PD combined an in-person immersion into the components of effective science instruction with online modules centered on learner-supportive mentoring practices. The authors detail key aspects of this hybrid program and discuss its impacts on the cooperating teachers’ ability to facilitate effective mentoring conversations with preservice teachers. Findings indicated that mentors who engaged in the hybrid face-to-face and online PD more effectively coached their mentees and displayed specific shifts in their approach to mentor conversations. Participants showed statistically significant increases in their ability to use coaching as a default mentoring stance, to focus on evidence of students’ science learning, and to draw on a consistent framework for effective science instruction for their conversations. These findings support a hybrid model of PD for mentoring and create potential for exploring a fully online sequence to promote effective mentoring in future work.

Volume 18  Issue 4  

Elementary Education Candidates’ Integration of Technology in Science Units

by Drew Polly & Ian Binns
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This study used the framework of technological pedagogical and content knowledge (TPACK) to examine how elementary education preservice teachers integrated technology in science units that they designed after completing courses on science education and technology integration. The findings indicate that technologies included at the end of lessons were associated with higher order thinking, while those included at the beginning or middle of lessons were focused more on lower order thinking and presenting content. Further, frequently used technology-rich activities such as viewing videos and PowerPoint presentations were associated with lower order thinking, while activities such as completing an interactive whiteboard activity or having students make presentations or videos included more opportunities to develop higher order thinking. Implications from this research suggest that science educators and teacher educators should focus more on technologies that support higher -order thinking and support course work with special attention to technology in the context of designing engaging science instruction.

Volume 18  Issue 3  

Youth Views of Science and Engineering in a Program for Preparing Teachers to Use Educational Technology in STEM Education

by Stephen Adams, Paul Burns & Lisa Martin-Hansen
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As part of a graduate course for supporting K-12 teachers’ use of technology in teaching science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects, teachers worked in teams to create workshops for youth at a Boys & Girls Club site. Teachers used curriculum kits from the Engineering is Elementary project of the Museum of Science, Boston, together with technological resources including iPads, to plan and conduct workshops with four sessions of 8 hours each. A mixed-methods evaluation examined perceptions of 36 youth regarding science and engineering. The youth (Grades 2 to 8) self-identified as 47% African-American, 33% Hispanic/Latino, 3% Asian, and 17% as other/Caucasian/mixed ethnicity. After the workshops, boys and girls more strongly agreed with an engineering-related question, that they liked thinking of new and better ways of doing things, and they agreed more strongly that they knew what scientists did for their jobs. Also after the workshops, girls more strongly agreed they knew what engineers did for their jobs, reaching a similar level as boys, whose responses did not change significantly.  Focus group data aligned with the survey responses for most questions.  Overall, the study suggested benefits of the program to participating youth, an indicator supporting this teacher preparation model.

Volume 18  Issue 2  

Teachers and Technology: Present Practice and Future Directions

by Isha DeCoito & Tasha Richardson
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Technology cannot be effective in the classroom without teachers who are knowledgeable about both the technology itself and its implementation to meet educational goals. While technology use in the classroom is increasing, improving learning through its application should remain the goal. In this study, the authors explored 74 middle school teachers’ beliefs about and use of technology through a technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK) lens. They sought to understand how middle school teachers use and perceive technology in practice and the factors influencing their pedagogical decisions to incorporate technology into their practice. Data included surveys, administered after a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) outreach program and teacher interviews. Findings revealed that both internal and external barriers were present and influenced how teachers situated their pedagogy in terms of technology integration. It was also found that teachers were confident in content, pedagogy, and technology; however, most viewed technology as a tool rather than an embedded part of the learning process. This study contributes knowledge about professional development initiatives and the need to address not technology knowledge as much as the interdependence of technology, pedagogy, and subject content matter.

Volume 18  Issue 1  

Leveraging Analysis of Students’ Disciplinary Thinking in a Video Club to Promote Student-Centered Science Instruction

by Tara Barnhart & Elizabeth van Es
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Recent policy reports and standards documents advocate for science teachers to adopt more student-centered instructional practices. Four secondary science teachers from one school district participated in a semester-long video club focused on honing attention to students’ evidence-based reasoning and creating opportunities to make students’ reasoning visible in practice. Although all participants expressed value in attending to students’ ideas and shifting autonomy to students in the classroom, they experienced varying levels and types of integration in their practice. Analysis revealed that teachers’ goals and commitments influenced the incremental ways in which participants integrated learning from the video club. Sustained and substantial changes to practice likely require support through multiple cycles of shifting visions of what is possible, coupled with collaborative attempts to work through challenges of implementation.

Volume 18  Issue 1  

Examining the Quality of Preservice Science Teachers’ Written Reflections When Using Video Recordings, Audio Recordings, and Memories of a Teaching Event

by Brendan Calandra, Laurie Brantley-Dias, Johnathan Yerby & Kadir Demir
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A group of preservice science teachers edited video footage of their practice teaching to identify and isolate critical incidents. They then wrote guided reflection papers on those critical incidents using different forms of media prompts while they wrote. The authors used a counterbalanced research design to compare the quality of writing that participants produced when they had access to either their edited video clip of the incident, audio from the clip only, or their memory of the incident alone while writing. All reflection papers were evaluated using a rubric developed by Ward and McCotter (2004). An analysis of variance among paper scores showed that participants wrote significantly higher quality papers on several indicators when prompted by video than when prompted by audio. There was also a difference in means between their reflections when prompted by video and when they worked from memory alone.

Volume 18  Issue 1  

Video-Enhanced Training to Support Professional Development in Elementary Science Teaching: A Beginning Teacher’s Experience

by Christine Hamel, Anabelle Viau-Guay, Luc Ria & Justine Dion-Routhier
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Elementary teachers are expected to teach complex and authentic lessons and integrating multiple disciplines. In so doing, they must take many elements into account, such as disciplinary content, learning standards, and pedagogical knowledge, in an ever more complex environment, including pupils’ increasingly heterogeneous characteristics. Our study aims to understand a beginning teacher’s classroom activity in the context of a research-training program involving the use of video. The teacher involved was observed giving a science lesson (on buoyancy in a fourth-grade classroom) and then took part in two interviews involving self-confrontation with researchers at 1-week intervals, returning to the classroom between these interviews. Specifically, this article presents a program aimed at training and mentoring a beginning elementary school teacher using video recordings of her classroom activities in Quebec, Canada. The analysis describes the teacher’s experience during this training process. In particular, the results indicate that the teacher’s participation in this training program changed her concerns related to science education at the elementary level. Her focus shifted from classroom management (e.g., managing hands-on activities in science education and pupils’ interactions) to supporting an approach favoring scientific inquiry that truly engages pupils and is anchored in sociotechnical controversies.


Volume 17  Issue 4  

Technology-Supported Science Instruction Through Integrated STEM Guitar Building: The Case for STEM and Non-STEM Instructor Success

by Sean Hauze & Debbie French
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With a national emphasis on integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in K-16 courses, incorporating technology in a meaningful way is critical. This research examines whether STEM and non-STEM teachers were able to incorporate technology in STEM courses successfully with sufficient professional development. The teachers in this study consisted of faculty from middle schools, high schools, and colleges recruited for STEM Guitar Building institutes held between 2013 and 2016. Each teacher participated in a 50-hour professional development opportunity in the manufacture of a solid-body electric guitar and received instruction on how to teach integrated STEM Modular Learning Activities (MLAs), which are aligned with the Common Core mathematics standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The data collected include pre- and postassessment from 769 students in three grade bands (grades 6-8, 9-12, and undergraduate level from 15 states). The results showed statistically significant gains at the p < 0.05 level across all 12 of the core MLAs, with no statistically significant difference between STEM and non-STEM instructors for all except two MLAs. The two MLAs that did reveal a statistically significant difference were more technical—Set Up and Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing Systems (CAD/CAM). These results show non-STEM and STEM teachers alike in this study were able to successfully incorporate technology in NGSS-aligned integrated STEM lessons, as evidenced by student learning gains.

Volume 17  Issue 3  

Examining Preservice Elementary Teachers’ Technology Self-Efficacy: Impact of Mobile Technology-Based Physics Curriculum

by Deepika Menon, Meera Chandrasekhar, Dorina Kosztin & Douglas Steinhoff
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While iPads and other mobile devices are gaining popularity in educational settings, challenges associated with teachers’ use of technology continue to hold true. Preparing preservice teachers within teacher preparation programs to gain experience learning and teaching science using mobile technologies is critical for them to develop positive beliefs and self-efficacy for future technology integration. The purpose of this study was to investigate changes in preservice elementary teachers’ technology self-efficacy during their participation in a specialized science content course that utilized a mobile technology-based physics curriculum, Exploring Physics. The Exploring Physics curriculum is available as a hybrid online-offline application running on multiple platforms (iOS, Android, PC/Mac). Participants included 34 preservice elementary teachers who participated in pre- and post-implementation of a technology self-efficacy survey. Data sources also included two focus-group and individual interviews with six participants, weekly classroom observations, and artifacts. Results showed significant positive changes in participants’ technology self-efficacy regarding the use of mobile technologies in science teaching. Factors that supported participants’ technology self-efficacy included: (a) firsthand experiences with iPads, (b) enhanced science content understandings, (c) high interactivity and engagement, and (c) instructor modeling the use of technology. Findings have implications for preservice teacher preparation for technology integration in science teaching.

Volume 17  Issue 2  

Using Personal Science Story Podcasts to Reflect on Language and Connections to Science

by Jennifer Kreps Frisch, Neporcha Cone & Brendan Callahan
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This study describes a personal science story podcasting assignment that was developed to help preservice teachers reflect on their use of everyday and academic vocabulary in the context of science, as well as how to communicate effectively with their students. Podcasting assignments were collected from 16 elementary education candidates and nine Master of Arts in Teaching candidates. The kinds of personal science stories they wrote were categorized, along with the extent to which they used the podcasts to demonstrate their understandings of the contexts of their students and the relationship between academic and everyday vocabulary.

Volume 17  Issue 1  

Content Analysis of Science Teacher Representations in Google Images

by Daniel Bergman
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Teacher images can impact numerous perceptions in educational settings, as well as through popular media. The portrayal of effective science teaching is especially challenging to specify, given the complex nature of science inquiry and other standards-based practices. The present study examined the litany of representations of science teachers available via a Google Images search. Initial data collected included image type (photograph, cartoon/clip art, text/graphic) and demographic information of the depicted science teachers. Common themes were detected and documented, including science teachers’ attire, actions, materials and equipment, and interactions with students. The potential impact of these images is discussed, including comparisons with science education literature. Implications include ways science teacher educators can use these images to foster reflection and dialogue among preservice and in-service teachers. Furthermore, an examination of stereotypes may need to be addressed and overcome in order to recruit, prepare, and support science teachers successfully.

Volume 16  Issue 4  

Using Educational Computer Games in the Classroom: Science Teachers’ Experiences, Attitudes, Perceptions, Concerns, and Support Needs

by Yun-Jo An, Linda Haynes, Adriana D’Alba & Frances Chumney
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Science teachers’ experiences, attitudes, perceptions, concerns, and support needs related to the use of educational computer games were investigated in this study. Data were collected from an online survey, which was completed by 111 science teachers. The results showed that 73% of participants had used computer games in teaching. Participants who had used computer games in teaching had more positive attitudes toward the use of educational computer games in the classroom than those who had not used games. Middle school teachers were more confident and reported a higher level of perceived benefits than did high school teachers. Potential distractions appeared to be the major concern the participants had about using computer games in the classroom. The major barriers to integrating educational computer games into the classroom included lack of computers, lack of time, time needed for preparation for school and national high-stakes testing, and lack of knowledge about science games. Participants indicated their greatest needs were computers and access to trial versions of games to integrate educational computer games effectively in their classrooms. Participants reported that a computer game must be aligned with state and national standards, free, compatible with school computers, fun, challenging, proven to be effective, and easy to use in order to be used in their classroom.

Volume 16  Issue 4  

Teacher Self-Efficacy During the Implementation of a Problem-Based Science Curriculum

by Charles B. Hodges, Jessica Gale & Alicia Meng
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This study was conducted to investigate eighth-grade science teachers’ self-efficacy during the implementation of a new, problem-based science curriculum.  The curriculum included applications of LEGO® robotics, a new technology for these teachers.  Teachers’ responded to structured journaling activities designed to collect information about their self-efficacy for teaching with the curriculum and, later, to a survey designed to probe their self-efficacy for enacting specific elements of the curriculum.  Participants reported high confidence levels throughout the study but expressed some concerns related to their local contexts.

Volume 16  Issue 3  

Persistent Teaching Practices After Geospatial Technology Professional Development

by Lori A. Rubino-Hare, Brooke A. Whitworth, Nena E. Bloom, Jennifer M. Claesgens, Kristi M. Fredrickson, Carol Henderson-Dahms & James C. Sample
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This case study described teachers with varying technology skills who were implementing the use of geospatial technology (GST) within project-based instruction (PBI) at varying grade levels and contexts 1 to 2 years following professional development. The sample consisted of 10 fifth- to ninth-grade teachers. Data sources included artifacts, observations, interviews, and a GST performance assessment and were analyzed using a constant comparative approach. Teachers’ teaching actions, beliefs, context, and technology skills were categorized. Results indicated that all of the teachers had high beliefs, but their context and level of technology skills strongly influenced their teaching actions. Two types of teachers persisting in practices from professional development were identified:  innovators and adapters.  Persistence of practice and implementation of the integration of GST within PBI must continue after professional development ends, or the sustainability of the positive results experienced during the professional development will not persist.

Volume 16  Issue 3  

Strategizing Teacher Professional Development for Classroom Uses of Geospatial Data and Tools

by Daniel R. Zalles & James Manitakos
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Studying Topography, Orographic Rainfall, and Ecosystems with Geospatial Information Technology (STORE), a 4.5-year National Science Foundation funded project, explored the strategies that stimulate teacher commitment to the project’s driving innovation: having students use geospatial information technology (GIT) to learn about weather, climate, and ecosystems. The GIT in STORE was a combination of freely available place-based geospatial data sets and visualization tools. The goal was to structure the innovation and its professional development so that participating teachers plan for and enact effective instruction with the innovation then achieve optimal impacts on student learning and engagement. The article describes how STORE addressed challenges about how to get teachers to persist with the innovation and use it skillfully. Most teachers persisted through multiple implementations. In addition, they developed and enacted a diverse set of curricula and instructional strategies, resulting in the innovation reaching diverse middle school, high school, and community college students in a wide range of science courses.

Volume 16  Issue 2  

Enabling Collaboration and Video Assessment: Exposing Trends in Science Preservice Teachers’ Assessments

by Mike Borowczak & Andrea C. Burrows
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This article details a new, free resource for continuous video assessment named YouDemo. The tool enables real time rating of uploaded YouTube videos for use in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and beyond. The authors discuss trends of preservice science teachers’ assessments of self- and peer-created videos using the tool. The trends were identified from over 900 assessments of 170 videos, with over 131 unique users. Included in this data set is a 2-year study focusing on 27 preservice science teachers (from a 5-year study of 76 total science preservice teachers) and their use of the tool. The authors collected both quantitative (numerical scores) and qualitative data (open-ended questions) from the 27 participants. Findings show that (a) rating two metrics had a non-zero bias between the two metrics; (b) preservice teachers found continuous video rating beneficial in enabling video assessment, promoting critical thinking, and increasing engagement; and (c) preservice teacher’s self-assessment was uncorrelated with their peers’ assessment. Additionally, the elements to enable skill improvement were met, including (a) a well defined task, (b) a challenging task, (c) immediate feedback, (d) error correction, and (e) practice. Implications include improvement in preservice teacher reflection and discussions, especially related to STEM content and pedagogy.

Volume 16  Issue 2  

Preservice Teachers’ TPACK Beliefs and Attitudes Toward Simulations

by Antti Lehtinen, Pasi Nieminen & Jouni Viiri
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This study investigated the effect of an intervention regarding the use of simulations in science teaching on primary school preservice science teachers’ (n = 36) self-assessed technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPACK). The connection of their self-assessed TPACK on their views on the usefulness of simulations in science teaching and on their disposition toward integrating simulations in their teaching was also studied. The results showed statistically significant differences between preservice teachers’ pre- and posttests in content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and TPACK domains. Preservice science teachers’ technological knowledge correlated with their views on the usefulness of simulation and disposition toward integrating simulations in teaching. The implication for science teacher training is that more attention should be paid to developing preservice teachers’ beliefs about their technological knowledge throughout their teacher training in order to encourage them to use simulations in science teaching.

Volume 15  Issue 4  

Peer Communication Through Blogging

by Steven D. Wall & Janice Anderson
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With the emergence of mobile technologies, students’ access to computing devices is omnipresent, as is their ability to collaborate through multiple modalities. This 21st-century affordance has generated a shift in the way preservice teachers are prepared to use, understand. and interact with social media (e.g., blogs) during their academic years.  This paradigmatic shift involves a movement toward a participatory culture using Web 2.0 technologies—dynamic environments that are not limited to the interactions of academic classrooms.  These changes present both new types of challenges and vast opportunities for teacher educators.  Based on repeated observation of minimal interaction amongst members of a peer cohort, a research study was conducted to analyze the interactions of three students who consistently posted comments on each other’s blogs in contrast to the trends found in their cohort.  Analysis of their posts and comments illuminated preservice teacher expectations for science teaching roles and how preservice teachers applied their expectations when commenting on their peers.  These interactions were professional in nature and revealed that previously established interpersonal relationships did not alter the type of interactions that occurred.

Volume 15  Issue 3  

Teacher Self-Efficacy in 1:1 iPad Integration in Middle School Science and Math Classrooms

by Lana Minshew & Janice Anderson
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Many schools are beginning to adopt one-to-one computing with the goal of developing students’ 21st-century skills, which allow students not only to learn content but to acquire critical skills (e.g., creativity, collaboration, and digital literacy) that will lead to future careers. Technology offers teachers the ability to transform the quality of instruction—to achieve a more student-centered learning environment, have more differentiated instruction, and develop problem- or project-based learning, and demand higher order thinking skills. A number of barriers and influences have emerged from the findings of this study on teachers’ practice and integration of technology into their classrooms.  This study examines how these barriers, both internal and external, influence classroom pedagogy. Using a technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK) framework, this paper examines the classroom practice of two middle grades mathematics and science teachers integrating a 1:1 initiative and the ways they dealt with the barriers in their classroom practices.

Volume 15  Issue 2  

Comparison of Technology Use Between Biology and Physics Teachers in a 1:1 Laptop Environment

by Simon J. Crook, Manjula D. Sharma & Rachel Wilson
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Using a mixed-methods approach the authors compared the associated practices of senior physics teachers (n = 7) and students (n = 53) in a 1:1 laptop environment with those of senior biology teachers (n = 10) and students (n = 125) also in a 1:1 laptop environment, in seven high schools in Sydney, NSW, Australia. They found that the physics teachers and students reported more use of their laptops than did their biology counterparts, particularly in regard to higher order, engaging activities such as simulations. This disparity is consistent with the differences between the prescribed NSW physics and biology curriculum documents. The physics curriculum specifies that students should engage with various technologies (especially simulations) frequently within the course content, while the biology curriculum makes only generic statements within the course outline. Due to the curriculum mandate, physics teachers seemed to be capitalizing on the opportunities afforded by the 1:1 laptop environment, whereas the biology teachers had less of a mandate and, consequently, incorporated less technology in their teaching.

Volume 15  Issue 2  

A Case Study of a TPACK-Based Approach to Teacher Professional Development:Teaching Science With Blogs

by Kamini Jaipal-Jamani & Candace Figg
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This paper presents a case study of a technology professional development initiative and illustrates how a workshop approach based on technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK) was adapted for professional learning at a school site. The case further documents how three middle school science teacher participants developed knowledge about how to teach with technology as they planned and implemented a blog activity in science over a 4-week period. The design of the professional development was informed by the underlying assumptions of the TPACK framework and characteristics for effective professional development for science and technology-enhanced teaching. To obtain insights into the particular experiences of teachers as they participated in the onsite professional development, a naturalistic case study design was used. Data collection procedures included researcher field notes during workshop sessions and lessons, videotaped classroom observations, audiotaped interviews, and teacher and student lesson artifacts. Data on teachers’ planning and lesson implementation of the blog activity to Grade 8 students were analyzed using content analysis. Overall, the results indicate that TPACK is developed through a combination of workshop experiences and immediate application of knowledge gained in the workshop into practice in the real-life teaching context.

Volume 15  Issue 1  

Determining Useful Tools for the Flipped Science Education Classroom

by Gregory MacKinnon
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This paper reports the results of a 3-year longitudinal study on the perceived utility of supplying elementary science teacher interns with four asynchronous tools to assist them in creating their first lesson plan of a constructivist nature. The research accessed qualitative and quantitative measures to sample intern reaction to the notion of a flipped classroom. As cited by the Flipped Learning Network (FLN, 2014), “Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter.” Of the flipped resources supplied to support the constructivist lesson framework of Driver and Oldham (1986), students found the handbook on formative assessment strategies to be the most helpful. Overall the implementation of the four supplemental resources in a flipped classroom mode culminated in at least 10% better grades on the first lesson plan (over 3 years) by comparison to the 2 years prior to the intervention.

Volume 14  Issue 4  

Pedagogy for the Connected Science Classroom: Computer Supported Collaborative Science and the Next Generation Science Standards

by Brian J. Foley & John M. Reveles
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The prevalence of computers in the classroom is compelling teachers to develop new instructional skills. This paper provides a theoretical perspective on an innovative pedagogical approach to science teaching that takes advantage of technology to create a connected classroom. In the connected classroom, students collaborate and share ideas in multiple ways producing a record of work that is persistent and accessible via networked-based computing (i.e., “the cloud”). The instruction method, called Computer Supported Collaborative Science (CSCS), uses web-based resources to engage all learners in the collection, analysis, and collaborative interpretation of classroom data that turns hands-on classroom activities into authentic scientific experiences. This paper describes CSCS and how it corresponds to key parts of the Next Generation Science Standards.

Volume 14  Issue 4  

Data-Driven Decision Making: Facilitating Teacher Use of Student Data to Inform Classroom Instruction

by Catherine C. Schifter, Uma Natarajan, Diane Jass Ketelhut & Amanda Kirchgessner
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Data-driven decision making is essential in K-12 education today, but teachers often do not know how to make use of extensive data sets. Research shows that teachers are not taught how to use extensive data (i.e., multiple data sets) to reflect on student progress or to differentiate instruction. This paper presents a process used in an National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project to help middle-grade science teachers use elaborate and diverse data from virtual environment game modules designed for assessment of science inquiry. The NSF-funded project dashboard is presented, along with results showing promise for a model of training teachers to use data from the dashboard and data-driven decision making principles, to identify science misunderstandings, and to use the data to design lesson options to address those misunderstandings.

Volume 14  Issue 3  

Diffusing Innovations: Adoption of Serious Educational Games by K-12 Science Teachers

by David Vallett, Leonard Annetta, Richard Lamb & Brandy Bowling
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Innovation is a term that has become widely used in education; especially as it pertains to technology infusion. Applying the corporate theory of diffusing innovation to educational practice is an innovation in itself. This mixed-methods study examined 38 teachers in a science educational gaming professional development program that provided baseline characteristics about personal technology use and post professional development workshop experiences to ascertain characteristics that align with diffusion of innovation theory and educational game development as a new innovation in current pedagogical practices. The posttest-only design tested correlation (ANOVA) between factors, following scale conversion employing Rasch modeling, using the established Ocean Explorers workshop survey to collect data. Results suggested that while none of the demographic factors were significantly correlated with participant perceptions of the workshop, participants’ perceptions of the presentation of the material were strongly correlated to their perceptions of the opportunities afforded by the workshop and the level of technological pedagogical content knowledge learning that took place. Frequencies of response ranges from the survey, for each scale, were paired with qualitative data to propose a fit to Rogers’ innovation adoption curve and provide a richer description of participant perceptions. Additionally, the findings from this study serve as a framework for professional development of innovative educational technologies for subsequent studies.

Volume 13  Issue 3  

Video of Children as Anchors in an Online Forum for Elementary School Teachers: A Tool for Positioning Oneself as Knowledgeable About Physics

by Lauren Swanson & Danielle Harlow
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The authors investigated how prospective teachers enrolled in an undergraduate physical science course participated in an online forum in which they posted reactions to video episodes of children talking about science. Using Positioning Theory (Harré & Van Langenhove, 1991) as a lens, the authors analyzed 108 online posts from 26 prospective teachers as they completed six prompts from a Unit Task about force. Prospective teachers compared their own current ideas about physics topics to their prior understandings as well as to ideas articulated by the children in the video clips. Additionally, within these posts the prospective teachers positioned themselves as knowledgeable about how physics ideas develop, an important aspect of teaching science. As the prospective teachers wrote about the videos in their online posts, the videos may have served as a point of comparison with which they could document their understanding of physics concepts as well as the process of learning physics.

Volume 13  Issue 2  

Exploring the Use of iPads to Investigate Forces and Motion in an Elementary Science Methods Course

by Rachel Wilson, Jeff Goodman, Leslie Bradbury & Lisa Gross
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Many science educators emphasize the need for meaningful science learning experiences and promote the idea of social constructivism in their methods classes, usually with inquiry-based activities that include physical manipulatives. However, the proliferation of technology in the nation’s schools suggests the need to incorporate this trend into inquiry-based elementary classrooms. This paper describes a shared common course assignment on forces and motion in an elementary science methods course, in which the iPad was introduced to preservice teachers as a tool for developing understanding of key concepts and processes. The study focused on the aspects of iPad use that 98 elementary preservice teachers perceived as beneficial in the forces and motion unit. Participants discussed the utility of the iPad for recording and replaying test data, its potential for visualizing science phenomena, and its value for communicating science understanding. Additionally, participants described how the iPad influenced instructional efficiency, engagement, and social learning. The implications of these findings are described given the scientific and engineering practices outlined in the new Framework for K-12 Science Education (National Research Council, 2012).

Volume 13  Issue 1  

Shared Photonarratives in an Online Master’s Course: Reflection, Context and Community

by Lauren Madden, M. Gail Jones & Margaret Blanchard
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Distance education has potential to reach teachers from diverse areas, but the challenges of building community and promoting reflection in these settings can be considerable. In this study, photonarratives were used as an assignment in a distance education course to promote reflection on science teaching. Twenty science teachers (half from rural areas) produced photonarratives that included photos and descriptions of helping and hindering factors related to their science teaching. Analysis of the photonarratives showed that two primary categories of factors were both helpful and hindering and included geographic factors (proximity to a community college or facilities) and available technologies (such as probeware or document cameras). A third category, colleagues, came across as a theme among the helping factors alone. The photonarratives served as a tool to empower the teachers by giving them the control to identify and document issues related to their unique science teaching context while also promoting insight into shared issues across the group. The power of photos embedded in personal narratives as a tool for teacher reflection and developing community is discussed.

Volume 12  Issue 4  

Scaffolding With and Through Videos: An Example of ICT-TPACK

by Kathrin Otrel-Cass, Elaine Khoo & Bronwen Cowie
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In New Zealand and internationally claims are being made about the potential for information and communication technologies (ICTs) to transform teaching and learning. However, the theoretical underpinnings explaining the complex interplay between the content, pedagogy and technology a teacher needs to consider must be expanded. This article explicates theoretical and practical ideas related to teachers’ application of their ICT technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK) in science. The article unpacks the social and technological dimensions of teachers’ use of TPACK when they use digital videos to scaffold learning. It showcases the intricate interplay between teachers’ knowledge about content, digital video technology, and students’ learning needs based on a qualitative study of two science teachers and their students in a New Zealand primary school.

Volume 12  Issue 2  

 Integrating Educational Technology into the Secondary Science Teaching

by S. Selcen Guzey & Gillian H. Roehrig
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The integration of technology in teaching is still challenging for most teachers, even though there has been a historical growth of Internet access and available educational technology tools in schools. Teachers have not incorporated technology into their teaching for various reasons, such as lack of knowledge of technology, time, and support. In this study, three beginning science teachers who successfully achieved technology integration were followed for 3 years to investigate how their beliefs, knowledge, and identity contributed to their uses of technology in their classroom instruction. The findings demonstrate that the participating teachers were all intrinsically motivated to use technology in their teaching and this motivation allowed them to enjoy using technology in their instruction and kept them engaged in technology use. The major findings of the study are displayed in a model, which indicates that the internalization of the technology use comes from reflection and that teachers’ use of technology in classroom instruction is constructed jointly by their technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge; beliefs; identity; and the resources that are available to them. The study has implications for teachers and teacher educators for successful technology integration into science classrooms.

Volume 11  Issue 3  

Preservice Teachers’ Perceptions of Learning Science Methods Through Hybridizing Asynchronous and Traditional Experiences

by Jeff Thomas
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This study addresses preservice teachers’ perceptions toward online experiences, specifically, their perceptions about utilizing an online science methods curriculum versus a traditional methods curriculum.  Thirty-eight senior level preservice teachers at a midwestern U.S. university completed surveys about their experiences during their methods course that included a module for online content learning, videos of fourth- and fifth-grade elementary student in situ learning, and exploration of pedagogical skills embedded in an electricity module.  Survey and focus group data indicate that the preservice teachers valued and wanted more online experiences, but not as a total replacement of traditional methods experiences.  Teacher education preparation programs must identify with and address preservice teacher expectations about the value placed upon online experiences.  Specifically, online experiences can help focus instruction and enhance student interaction about life in an elementary classroom.  Implications of this study help address professional movements for incorporating online experiences for in-service K-12 teachers and schools.

Volume 11  Issue 1  

Increasing Student Interest and Attitudes in STEM: Professional Development and Activities to Engage and Inspire Learners

by Katherine Hayden, Youwen Ouyang, Lidia Scinski, Brandon Olszewski & Talbot Bielefeldt
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The iQUEST (investigations for Quality Understanding and Engagement for Students and Teachers) project is designed to promote student interest and attitudes toward careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The project targets seventh- and eighth-grade science classrooms that serve high percentages of Hispanic students. The project design, student summer camp program, and professional development model have led to successful increases in student performance. The iQUEST student summer camp findings show that underserved populations of both female and male students experienced increased interest and attitudes toward science and technology. The iQUEST professional development model seeks to transform middle school science teachers from digital immigrants to advocates for technology being a critical part of student learning through integration of innovative technology experiences in formal science settings. Classroom observations illustrate how teachers have successfully implemented lessons that engage students in hands-on investigations, leading to deeper understanding of science and, therefore improving the potential of underrepresented students competing in STEM fields.

Volume 10  Issue 4  

Promoting Creative Thinking and Expression of Science Concepts Among Elementary Teacher Candidates Through Science Content Movie Creation and Showcasing

by Richard P. Hechter & Mark D. Guy
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This article reports the phases of design and use of video editing technology as a medium for creatively expressing science content knowledge in an elementary science methods course. Teacher candidates communicated their understanding of standards-based core science concepts through the creation of original digital movies. The movies were assigned as a component of an elementary science methods course to help teacher candidates frame their understandings of science ideas and science content through the medium of movie-making technology. A mixed method analysis of the movie-making process was conducted through open-ended questionnaires and interviews. Results revealed that the project was valuable, as it provided an opportunity for students to think about science concepts from a new and deeper perspective. Further, the movie-making experience included the learning and utilization of iMovie technology, increasing candidate comfort and confidence in using the technology, which candidates reported will carry over to their own classrooms. This study has implications within science methods courses for the relationship between creative expression and core science concepts.

Volume 10  Issue 3  

Making Sure What You See is What You Get: Digital Video Technology and the Preparation of Teachers of Elementary Science

by Paul Bueno de Mesquita, Ross F. Dean & Betty J. Young
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Advances in digital video technology create opportunities for more detailed qualitative analyses of actual teaching practice in science and other subject areas.  User-friendly digital cameras and highly developed, flexible video-analysis software programs have made the tasks of video capture, editing, transcription, and subsequent data analysis more convenient, accurate, and reliable than ever before. Although such technological developments offer a myriad of opportunities for advancements in research and training, especially in the area of preservice science teacher education, a number of technical challenges and unforeseen difficulties may arise when relying on video-based methodologies. If unanticipated, these challenges can compromise the overall integrity of research data and detract from training effectiveness. The purpose of this paper is to identify the challenges and opportunities specific to incorporating video technology into the research on preservice science teacher education within the context of relevant literature. Lessons learned from an ongoing longitudinal study of preservice elementary science teachers are discussed, including practical guidelines for use of digital video for research and professional development.

Volume 10  Issue 1  

(Re)Anchored, Video-Centered Engagement: The Transferability of Preservice Training to Practice

by Gail Dickinson & Emily J. Summers
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This longitudinal study tracks primary participants over 3 years from their last year of university preservice teaching training through their second year of in-service teaching via surveys, interviews, and teaching observations. The study employs a descriptive case study design to examine the transfer of preservice content, pedagogy, and video technology learning into teaching practice. The study places the model case studies within the larger context of analyzed observational and artifact data from 7 years of preservice teachers’ learning about (re)anchored, video-centered engagement.

Volume 9  Issue 3  

Meeting the Needs of Middle Grade Science Learners Through Pedagogical and Technological Intervention

by Randy Yerrick & Joseph Johnson
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This mixed methods study examined the effects of inserting laptops and science technology tools in middle school environments. Working together with a local university, middle school science teaching faculty members wrote and aligned curricula, explored relevant science education literature, tested lessons with summer school students, and prepared evaluation measures for their year-long implementation of laptops, probeware, and other scientific hardware and software.  This quasi-experimental study revealed differences in student achievement, responses to pedagogy, and effectiveness of tools implemented by teachers over the course of the year.  Implications are discussed for the effectiveness of laptops in science, as well as future studies identifying differences in instructional practices associated with technology tools.

Volume 9  Issue 2  

Preservice Biology Teachers’ Use of Interactive Display Systems to Support Reforms-Based Science Instruction

by Christine G. Schnittka & Randy L. Bell
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The purpose of this study was to explore preservice science teachers’ use of an interactive display system (IDS), consisting of a computer, digital projector, interactive white board, and Internet connection, to support science teaching and learning.  Participants included 9 preservice biology teachers enrolled in a master of teaching program during their full-time student teaching experience. Each participant had access to an IDS for the duration of the investigation. The research questions guiding the investigation included (a) whether teachers would use the IDS for instructional purposes, (b) what form this instruction would take, and (c) whether the instruction would reflect the recommendations of current science education reform documents. Analytic induction was used to analyze the wide variety of collected data, including classroom observation notes, entrance and exit interviews, lesson plans, and reflective essays. Results indicated that student teachers used the IDS in substantial ways to facilitate teaching reforms-based science. Furthermore, the results support the use of explicit approaches to preparing preservice teachers to use educational technology for inquiry instruction, modeling of effective uses of digital images and video clips, and specific instruction on whole-class inquiry methods.

Volume 9  Issue 1  

Teaching Science with Technology: Case Studies of Science Teachers’Development of Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge

by S. Selcen Guzey & Gillian H. Roehrig
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This study examines the development of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK) in four in-service secondary science teachers as they participated in a professional development program focusing on technology integration into K-12 classrooms to support science as inquiry teaching. In the program, probeware, mind-mapping tools (CMaps), and Internet applications ― computer simulations, digital images, and movies — were introduced to the science teachers. A descriptive multicase study design was employed to track teachers’ development over the yearlong program. Data included interviews, surveys, classroom observations, teachers’ technology integration plans, and action research study reports. The program was found to have positive impacts to varying degrees on teachers’ development of TPACK. Contextual factors and teachers’ pedagogical reasoning affected teachers’ ability to enact in their classrooms what they learned in the program. Suggestions for designing effective professional development programs to improve science teachers’ TPACK are discussed.

Volume 8  Issue 1  

Evaluating Multimedia-Learning Tools Based on Authentic Research Data That Teach Biology Concepts and Environmental Stewardship

by Jacqueline McLaughlin & Daniel A. Arbeider
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High school science teachers and students need interactive, multimedia research-based learning objects that (a) support standards-based teaching, (b) enforce complex thinking and problem solving, (c) embrace research skills, (d) include appropriate assessments to measure student performance, and (e) show “real-world” uses. To meet these five criteria, the CHANCE modules have been purposefully designed to allow students to “learn how things work” using real-world research data. These modules pace students through images and text that help them to interpret biological and ecological principles. Indeed, each module has been carefully field tested with practicing in-service and preservice science teachers and real students to assure its effectiveness. Notably, the integration of authentic scientific research with sequenced, interactive computer simulations create a solid curriculum base of national interest that has laid the groundwork for additional materials collections that capitalize on the resources of communities that surround schools in particular regions of the country.

Volume 7  Issue 4  

Digital Microscopes: Enhancing Collaboration and Engagement in Science Classrooms with Information Technologies

by Jeremy Dickerson & Dennis Kubasko
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This article describes the implementation of laptop computers and digital, USB-based microscopes (Proscopes®) in science classes. This technology integration project took place in a rural school district in North Carolina. This school is in a low socio-economic area, with an approximately 60/40 ratio of Caucasian to non-Caucasian students. Additionally, this school has had a comparably low level of access to technology for students and teachers. Traditional science tools (light microscopes) were replaced with four sets of a laptops with ProScopes as technology-enhanced collaborative work areas. With minimal formal technical training, students adapted and used these technologies to examine and explore content in cellular biology and to create electronic lab reports using digital images and motion videos captured during activities. The infusion of technologies in this instructional environment transformed the learning experiences through the powerful combination of science and technology, resulting in enhanced student processes and products.

Volume 7  Issue 1  

Technology Integration:  PDAs as an Instructional and Reflective Tool in the Science Classroom

by Jon E. Pedersen & Edmund A. Marek
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The role of technology has an increased emphasis in the PK-12 classroom and in the preparation of teachers.  The wide support for the integration of technology in day-to-day instruction is evidenced at many levels and through many organizations. The current study focused on examining and describing the experiences of faculty and interns as they relate to the use of the PDA.  Results indicate that a clear and effective purpose for technology that matched specified outcomes was key for all of informants in this study.  Results also indicated that the simplest, most efficient technology for a particular task was essential.

Volume 6  Issue 4  

Integrating Point-to-Point Videoconferencing Into Professional Development of Rural Elementary School Science Teachers

by Leonard Annetta & Daniel Dickerson
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This study investigated the effectiveness of using point-to-point videoconferencing for a 3-day professional development workshop of elementary school science teachers as part of the Science Co-op Project in rural Missouri. The intentions of this exploratory case study were to provide an overview of the program and to assess the degree to which participating teachers perceived the effective use of distance education technologies to address the challenge of reaching teachers in rural, isolated areas. The sample of teacher participants had participated in at least one traditional, onsite professional development workshop in previous years of the project. An exploratory case study design methodology was used to ascertain new information as it arose during the data collection process. Results suggest that teachers perceived the use of point-to-point videoconferencing to be as effective as their previous experience in traditional workshops.  However, teacher participants overwhelmingly preferred to have the workshop leaders onsite.

Volume 6  Issue 3  

A Computer-Based Instrument That Identifies Common Science Misconceptions

by Timothy G. Larrabee, Mary Stein & Charles Barman
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This article describes the rationale for and development of a computer-based instrument that helps identify commonly held science misconceptions. The instrument, known as the Science Beliefs Test, is a 47-item instrument that targets topics in chemistry, physics, biology, earth science, and astronomy. The use of an online data collection system aided in developing this instrument and in ascertaining its validity and reliability. Validity was also established through use of expert panels, previously published items, and feedback from pilot tests. Using KR-21, internal consistency was established at 0.77. A test-retest reliability coefficient was established at 0.776, or moderate. As of December 2005, 1,071 respondents participated in this study, including 17 college and university educators, 40 members of the general public, and 41 K-12 educators. Eighty-five graduate students, 254 K-12 students, and 634 undergraduates also took the survey. This instrument continues to be revised to clarify items and add others to further its usefulness.

Volume 6  Issue 2  

Technology for Physics Instruction

by Joel Bryan
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Although technological innovations have the capability to significantly change how scientific investigations are done and greatly enhance the teaching and learning of science, its use is no more effective than any other resource or innovation when researched-based effective teaching practices are not followed. This paper reviews established guidelines for the effective use of technology in science and mathematics education, and presents several examples of technology products available for physics instruction and research related to their effectiveness.

Volume 6  Issue 1  

Preparing Preservice Elementary Teachers to Teach Science Through Computer Models

by Nicos Valanides & Charoula Angeli
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The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which preservice elementary teachers were able to construct viable scientific models with a computer-modeling tool, namely Model-It, and design a science lesson with models. The results of the study showed that (a) Model-It, through its scaffolds (i.e., Plan, Build, and Test modes), enabled the majority of preservice teachers to build models that were structurally correct, (b) participants’ models were structurally correct but simplistic, and (c) 65% of the participants preferred to teach science using the explorative modeling method, 27% the expressive method, and only 8% both the explorative and the expressive methods. In essence, Model-It effectively scaffolded preservice teachers’ first modeling experiences and enabled them to quickly build and test their models. It is, however, recognized that systematic efforts need to be undertaken in teacher education departments to adequately prepare prospective teachers to teach science through computer models.

Volume 4  Issue 3  

Video Analysis Software and the Investigation of the Conservation of Mechanical Energy

by Joel Bryan
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National science and mathematics standards stress the importance of integrating technology use into those fields of study at all levels of education. In order to fulfill these directives, it is necessary to introduce both in-service and preservice teachers to various forms of technology while modeling its appropriate use in investigating “real world” problems and situations. Using the conservation of mechanical energy of a falling and bouncing ball as its context, this paper describes how inexpensive video analysis technology makes possible the investigation of numerous types of motion with detail and precision that would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, without the use of this technology.

Volume 4  Issue 1  

Commentary: Considerations in Pedagogy and Assessment in the Use of Computers to Promote Learning About Scientific Models

by Stephen T. Adams
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Although one role of computers in science education is to help students learn specific science concepts, computers are especially intriguing as a vehicle for fostering the development of epistemological knowledge about the nature of scientific knowledge—what it means to “know” in a scientific sense (diSessa, 1985). In this vein, the article by Cullin & Crawford (2003) investigated using computer modeling activities in the curriculum of a science methods course. Their goals, which transcended improving their students’ understanding of specific models, were aimed at improving their students’ appreciation of the nature of scientific modeling in general. This response to their article discusses their findings in relation to considerations pertaining to instruction and assessment in this area. Improving preservice teachers’ understanding of the nature of modeling in science is important in part because it supports a related goal of improving students’ understanding in this area. To further make the case for the value of an understanding of the nature of models in science, and as a complement to Cullin and Crawford’s discussion of teachers’ understanding of models, this response also discusses examples from a study of high school students’ interpretation of a scientific news report involving computer models.