Science Education

Exploring Science Teachers’ Distance Education Experiences: A Private School Case

by Seda Kaynak & Ümran Betül Cebesoy
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The COVID-19 outbreak had massive impacts in many areas, including education, all over the world. This pandemic forced education systems to make an emergency shift to remote teaching. The Turkish education system was affected by the pandemic, and all schools were forced to shut down in March 2020. Approximately 18 million students in Türkiye continued their education through distance teaching. Distance education, as a response to this compulsory transition, was carried out through the Education Informatics Network (EBA) and Turkish Radio and Television Corporation Educational Information Network (TRT EBA TV) channels. However, it was not known whether teachers were ready for this compulsory transition and online teaching process. This study aimed to investigate science teachers’ perceptions of the compulsory distance education process and the difficulties they encountered during online teaching. Four science teachers working in a private school during the pandemic voluntarily participated in the study. A semistructured interview was used for data collection. Standard qualitative analysis methods were used. The results revealed the participant teachers were not fully ready for this compulsory transition. They frequently encountered internet access problems, parent/teacher communication issues, problems with the delivery platform, and outdated hardware technologies. Teachers proposed effective professional development programs for developing their capabilities to use online education platforms more effectively.

Becoming Ambitious From Afar: Understanding Teacher Beliefs About Implementing Ambitious Science Teaching Practices Through a Remotely Delivered Professional Development Workshop

by John Williams, Daniel Mourlam & Steven Chesnut
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Science education professional development (PD) experiences are important for developing effective teaching practices aligned to reform-based principles using innovative approaches, such as the Ambitious Science Teaching (AST) framework. The ability of schools and other organizations to provide high quality science education PD was challenged recently by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, some providers reimagined their PD experiences using online and remotely delivered mediums. In this study, the authors examined a remotely delivered, 3-day PD science teaching workshop to determine any changes to in-service teachers’ beliefs regarding their ability to implement AST practices. Using a pre/post survey design, the research questions guiding this study were as follows: (a) To what extent and in what direction did teachers’ beliefs about their ability to implement AST practices change before and after a remotely delivered PD experience? and (b) To what extent do teachers’ beliefs in their ability to implement AST practices differ as a function of teaching experience, education level, or certification area? Analysis of in-service teachers’ responses indicated a statistically significant increase in their confidence to implement AST practices over the course of the workshop, with no significant differences across compared groups. These results suggest that remotely delivered PD experiences may be a viable option for improving AST-based teaching practices.

Current Practice

Transforming Assessment in Online STEM Learning: Preparing Teachers to Integrate Computational Thinking in Elementary Classrooms

by Terrie Galanti & Courtney Baker
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With the increasing emphasis on infusing computational thinking (CT) in PK-12 education, developing teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge is essential for CT integration. In a graduate online CT course for elementary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teaching, the Authentic Integrated Online Assessment model (Galanti et al., 2021b) informed the design of a digital interactive notebook (DINb) as a performance-based assessment of teachers’ CT content and pedagogical content knowledge. Qualitative content analysis of course artifacts revealed the power of the DINb to prompt feedback, revision, and self-reflection. The iterative nature of the DINb deepened CT understandings, normalized incomplete thinking as productive, and enhanced online teacher-instructor communication about CT concepts. Findings indicate that this iterative approach to online assessment developed elementary STEM teachers’ CT skills and dispositions. They demonstrated their understanding of CT as a problem-solving approach that they could learn and integrate in their own classrooms.