Creating Supportive Contexts
Committee on Strengthening Science Education
through a Teacher Learning Continuum
Suzanne Wilson, Heidi Schweingruber, and Natalie Nielsen, Editors
Board on Science Education
Teacher Advisory Council
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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This activity was supported by a contract between the National Academy of Sciences and the Merck Company Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the view of the organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-38018-8
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-38018-9
Library of Congress Control Number: 2015957314
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Copyright 2015 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
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Cover credits: (left to right) iStock image #4700119, ©Chris Schmidt; iStock image #34730760, ©Susan Chiang; iStock image #14532979, ©Steve Debenport.
Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2015). Science Teachers Learning: Enhancing Opportunities, Creating Supportive Contexts. Committee on Strengthening Science Education through a Teacher Learning Continuum. Board on Science Education and Teacher Advisory Council, Division of Behavioral and Social Science and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president.
The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president.
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Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.national-academies.org.
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COMMITTEE ON STRENGTHENING SCIENCE EDUCATION
THROUGH A TEACHER LEARNING CONTINUUM
Suzanne Wilson (Chair), University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Betsy Davis, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Zoe Evans, Central Middle School, Carrollton, GA
Adam Gamoran, William T. Grant Foundation, New York, NY
Kris Gutiérrez, University of Colorado, Boulder
Paula Hooper, Institute for Inquiry at the Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA
Judith Warren Little, University of California, Berkeley
Julie Luft, University of Georgia, Athens
Barbara Miller, Education Development Center, Waltham, MA
Kathleen Roth, Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, Colorado Springs, CO
Irwin Shapiro, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA
Patrick Shields, SRI International, Menlo Park, CA
Warren Simmons, Brown University, Providence, RI
Mark Windschitl, University of Washington, Seattle
James Wyckoff, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Carla Zembal-Saul, Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Natalie Nielsen, Study Director (until January 2014)
Anthony Brown, Program Assistant (until June 2013)
Joanna Roberts, Program Assistant (from May 2014 to April 2015)
Miriam Scheiber, Program Assistant (from April 2015)
Rebecca Krone, Program Associate (until March 2014)
Ryan Stowe, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Fellow
Jay Labov, Director, Teacher Advisory Council
Heidi Schweingruber, Study Director and Director, Board on Science Education
Martin Storksdieck, Director, Board on Science Education (until June 2014)
BOARD ON SCIENCE EDUCATION
Adam Gamoran (Chair), William T. Grant Foundation, New York, NY
George Boggs, Palomar College, San Marcos, California (emeritus)
Melanie Cooper, Department of Chemistry, Michigan State University
Rodolfo Dirzo, Department of Biology, Stanford University
Jacquelynne Eccles, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Joseph Francisco, Department of Chemistry, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Margaret A. Honey, New York Hall of Science, New York City
Matthew Krehbiel, Kansas State Department of Education, Topeka
Michael Lach, Urban Education Institute, University of Chicago
Lynn S. Liben, Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University
Cathy Manduca, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College
John Mather, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Brian Reiser, School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University
Marshall “Mike” Smith, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Stanford, CA
Roberta Tanner, Retired Physics Teacher, Thompson School District, Loveland, Colorado
Suzanne Wilson, Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut
Yu Xie, Department of Sociology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Heidi Schweingruber, Director
Margaret Hilton, Senior Program Officer
Kery Brenner, Program Officer (from December 2014)
Kenne Dibner, Program Officer (from October 2015)
Matthew Lammers, Program Coordinator
Miriam Scheiber, Program Assistant
TEACHER ADVISORY COUNCIL
Mary Marguerite Murphy (Chair), Camden Hills Regional High School, Rockport, ME
Kenneth Huff (Cochair), Mill Middle School, Williamsville, NY
Sarah Bax, Hardy Middle School, Washington, DC
Winnie Gilbert, Los Altos High School, Covina, CA
K. Renae Pullen, Caddo Parish School Board, Shreveport, LA
Steve Robinson, Democracy Prep Charter High School, New York, NY
Sheikisha Thomas, Jordan High School, Durham, NC
Mike Town, Tesla STEM High School, Redmond, WA
Claudia Walker, Murphey Traditional Academy, Greensboro, NC
Bruce Alberts [Ex Officio], Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco
Jay Labov, Staff Director
Betty Carvellas, Teacher Leader
Matthew Lammers, Program Coordinator
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This report is made possible by the important contributions of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine staff, the study committee, and many other experts. First, we acknowledge the sponsorship of the Merck Company Foundation. We particularly thank Carlo Parravano and Margo Bartiromo for their guidance in conceptualizing the study, their support throughout the process, and their long-term commitment to the ongoing support of science educators.
Over the course of the study, committee members benefited from discussion and presentations by the many individuals who participated in our three fact-finding meetings. At the second committee meeting, Joseph Krajcik (Michigan State University) provided an overview of A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (National Research Council, 2012, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press and shared examples of instruction based on the Framework. Margo Murphy (Camden Hills Regional High School, Maine; Teacher Advisory Council member) shared reflections on the current state of curriculum and instruction. Margo Bartiromo (Merck Institute for Science Education) provided background on the goals of the study’s sponsor.
At the third meeting, the committee heard reports on the data available on the science teaching workforce. Three experts presented results of commissioned analyses: Kelli Bird (University of Virginia) presented national data; Luke Miller (University of Virginia) presented data from New York; and Tim Sass (Georgia State University) presented data from
Florida. The committee also heard about international examples of systems for supporting science teachers’ learning. John Loughran (Monash University, Australia) described an example from Australia; Catherine Lewis (Mills College) described an example from Japan; and John Holman (York University) described an example from England. Gerald Le Tendre (Pennsylvania State University) then discussed cross-national trends. Given the challenges of locating centralized and comprehensive data on science teacher learning opportunities in the United States, all of these presentations and the ensuing discussions helped the committee broaden and deepen its expertise. The committee also had the opportunity to discuss science teachers’ professional development with science teachers, administrators, and science specialists. Participants in the discussion included Ford Morishita, science specialist, Science & Math Education Resource Center ESD 112, Vancouver, Washington; Mary Lynn Riggs, director of curriculum and instruction, Franklin West Supervisory Union, Fairfax, Vermont; Katherine Ward, biology teacher, Aragon High School, San Mateo, California; Carol Williamson, UKanTeach master teacher, University of Kansas. The perspectives of these teachers and leaders who work directly in and with schools was especially important to the committee, as practitioners are crucial to any attempts to improve U.S. science education.
At the fourth meeting, a panel discussed state-level decision making around deploying resources for science teachers’ professional development. Panel participants included Ellen Ebert, State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction; John Olson, Minnesota Department of Education; and Sam Shaw, South Dakota Department of Education. A second panel discussed district-level decision making around deploying resources for science teachers’ professional Learning. Panelists included Xavier Botana, Michigan City Area Schools; Pauline Dow, Austin Independent School District, Texas; David Evans, National Science Teachers Association; Melanie Hobbs, American Federation of Teachers; and Mike Kaspar, National Education Association. All provided responses to the panel discussions. Again, insights from practice helped the committee understand the complexities associated with the ongoing support of a high-quality science teacher workforce.
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible
and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process.
I thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Angela Calabrese Barton, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University; Laura M. Desimone, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania; Brenda J. Dietrich, Data Science, IBM Watson Group; Michael Lach, STEM Policy and Strategic Initiatives, University of Chicago; Marcia C. Linn, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley; Margo M. Murphy, science teacher, Camden Hills Regional High, Rockport, Maine; Cynthia Passmore, Graduate Group in Education, School of Education, University of California, Davis; William Penuel, School of Education, University of Colorado Boulder; Peter J. Polverini, University of Michigan School of Dentistry, University of Michigan Medical School; James Short, Gottesman Center for Science Teaching and Learning, Education Department, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York; Norman H. Sleep, Department of Geophysics, Stanford University; Mark Smylie, The Center for Urban Education Leadership, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the report nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by, Robert Floden, Institute for Research on Technology and Learning, Michigan State University and Caswell A. Evans, College of Dentistry, University of Illinois at Chicago. Appointed by the Academies, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the committee and the institution.
Thanks are also due to the project staff and staff of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE). Anthony Brown, Rebecca Krone, and Joanna Roberts managed the study’s logistical and administrative needs, making sure meetings and workshops ran efficiently and smoothly. We are also grateful to Jay Labov and Ryan Stowe (Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Fellow) for their contributions and to Margaret Hilton for her invaluable writing and editorial help. Kirsten Sampson Snyder of the DBASSE staff expertly guided us through the review process, and Yvonne Wise of the DBASSE staff oversaw the production of the report. Most importantly, Natalie Nielsen and Heidi
Schweingruber, of the Board on Science Education, directed the study and played a key role in the report drafting and review process with intelligence and grace. Their stewardship of the process and willingness to help in all matter of ways were essential to the completion of this project.
Suzanne Wilson, Chair
Committee on Strengthening Science Education
through a Teacher Learning Continuum
Study Background and Committee Charge
Sources and Standards of Evidence
2 A NEW VISION OF SCIENCE TEACHING AND LEARNING
What Students Need to Learn About Science
Implications for Science Teaching
3 THE CURRENT STATUS OF SCIENCE INSTRUCTION
Current Science Instruction: A Gap Between Vision and Reality
Teachers’ Perceptions of Effective Instruction
4 THE K-12 SCIENCE TEACHING WORKFORCE
Characteristics of the K-12 Science Teaching Workforce
5 SCIENCE TEACHERS’ LEARNING NEEDS
Expertise for Teaching Science
Contextual Influences on Teachers’ Learning Needs
6 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS
Features of Effective Professional Development Programs
Impact of Professional Development Programs in Science
7 TEACHER LEARNING IN SCHOOLS AND CLASSROOMS
Collaboration and Professional Community
Coaching and Mentoring Resources in Schools
8 CREATING A SUPPORTIVE CONTEXT FOR TEACHER LEARNING
Coherent Instructional Guidance
9 CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND DIRECTIONS FOR RESEARCH
Recommendations for Practice and Policy