Partnership in Biomedical Discovery

  • Project Description

    1. Team HS teachers and students in cutting-edge genetic research using model organisms – Three projects (selected from 9 research labs) carried out in 8-week summer program Teacher-student lab teams are assisted by graduate and undergraduate researchers Products (mutants cloned genes etc.) returned to originating labs for follow-up. 2. Develop inquiry-based learning modules for HS biology – Curriculum Roundtable includes teacher-researchers Advisory Board and Univ. faculty Class and lab modules use model organisms for strictly inquiry-based learning High-school students develop science inquiry activities for grades 1-8. 3. Promote and support the adoption of inquiry-based learning methods – One-week workshops train additional teachers to use inquiry-based learning modules Staff support promotes and assists implementation by school visits -Kits- program provides all materials for lab modules Support high-school student visits to classes grades 1-8.

  • Abstract

    The overall objective of this phase I/II project is to develop a model of how the scientific expertise of a research university can directly impact local K-12 science education by introducing high school teachers and students to the inquiry-based process that is scientific research. Our fundamental premises are that true science knowledge requires active engagement in scientific inquiry and that teachers and students so engaged can become agents of change in science education. To this end we propose to immerse selected biology teachers and high school students in an 8-week summer Research Experience during which they participate directly in cutting-edge research in a University environment. With the participation and guidance of nine University research labs teacher-student teams in a single lab facility will perform genetic screens for new mutations using three sets of model organisms: bacteria yeast and C. elegans. Although these research labs have diverse objectives and employ varied experimental approaches and different techniques there is a common thread in that they use the methods and paradigms of genetics to study health-related problems of interest and concern to the public. Weekly Curriculum Roundtable meetings among participating teachers a Teacher Advisory Board and University faculty will focus on developing inquiry-based education modules and experiment kits based on these model organisms for use in high school and middle-school classrooms and on methods and mechanisms for assessing the impact of such modules. The modules will be tested refined and disseminated in one-week Curricular Workshops for high school teachers (who have not done the Research Experience) in project years 2-5. During succeeding years we will provide experiment Kits for high school classes with which teachers who have been through our programs can implement the inquiry-based curricular modules. Project evaluations aim to compare teachers who have done the 8-week Reserch Experience with those who have done the one-week Curricular Workshop with respect to adoption and effective use of the inquiry-based methods and modules to track educational and career paths of student participants and to assess the impact on learning in high school biology.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    1. Training workshops for HS teachers in inquiry-based learning materials. 2. Encourage and assist trained teachers in promoting -lateral- dissemination to colleagues. 3. Learning modules and lab protocols on project website and other educational websites.

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    Evaluation Goals- 1. Determine how participation in the 7-week summer research experience affects (a) scientific reasoning skills of student and teacher summer participants (b) cognitive content of questions posed by student and teacher summer participants (c) frequency of adoption of inquiry-based curriculum (d) amount of time teachers devote to inquiry-based learning (e) educational/career paths of student participants. 2. Determine whether and how much inquiry-based learning affects student scientific reasoning skills and cognitive content of student questions. 3. Measure program effectiveness in reaching quantitative annual and cumulative performance goals. Evaluation Design – The principal instruments and methods to be used will be: 1. For scientific reasoning skills a written test is administered before and after the summer program. This test was designed by our program evaluator (K. Raghavan) based on the work of A.E. Lawson TIMSS and NAEP modified in consultation with program staff. The test is relatively free of specific content knowledge and attempts to measure abstract reasoning skills important in science including: conservation principles proportional reasoning probability control of variables correlation and inference. This test is now being refined after our first experience with it. 2. The same test is given as ‘before and after’ assessment in high school classes making extensive use of our inquiry-based learning modules. 3. Summer program participants write questions about their lab experience in biweekly online sessions. Questions are scored on a cognitive category scale by multiple graduate student scorers. 4. A tracking database is under construction for student and teacher participants in summer programs. It is anticipated that we will seek annual data updates an each participant and continue tracking for up to 8 years. This tracking will provide data on student educational and career paths ongoing teacher and student involvement in research etc. 5. All participants receive an attitudinal survey instrument at the start and end of the summer program. This is supplemented by personal interviews conducted by our lead evaluator. 6. Our Assistant Coordinator tracks adoption of the inquiry-based learning modules in schools use of inclass kits and visits of classes to our labs (sometimes an alternative to kit use in the home school). 7. Program Staff and our Advisory Board compile annual quantitative data pertinent to our annual performance goals for participant numbers production of learning modules adoption rates and kit usage. Results of Data Analysis – There are four principal findings: (1) The scientific reasoning assessment of summer program participants and about 600 unselected high school students shows that our summer participants are an exceptionally talented group. Detailed quantitative analysis is in progress. (2) Summer program participants show dramatic improvement in cognitive content of scientific questions over 6 weeks of the program. This improvement remains almost completely intact at 1 month and 6 months after completion of the program. (3) Teachers participating in our one-week training workshop adopt inquiry-based curricular materials at only slightly lower frequency than teachers in the 7-week research program but show much less confidence in conducting these activities independently. (4) The program meets or exceeds all quantitative annual performance goals.

  • Resources for Sharing

    Project website – Learning modules and lab protocols made available Kit contents and protocols available.

Project Audience

High school teachers and students

Subjects Addressed

Scientific reasoning and inquiry skills; laboratory research skills in genetics microbiology and molecular biology; curriculum for inquiry-based learning