Project ARISE: Advancing Rhode Island Science Education

  • Project Description

    1. Engage high school teachers and students in inquiry-based approaches to learning about science. During the summers of the program fifteen Rhode Island high school biology teachers hereafter referred to as -fellows- will learn active inquiry-based teaching methods and content in neuroscience physiology molecular biology and bioinformatics. 2. Bring cutting-edge research into the biology classroom. During the academic year fellows will have access to mobile laboratory equipment as well as qualified scientific advisors so they may implement new curriculum into their classroom. 3. Improve awareness of the relevance of science to everyday life. The program will address fundamental scientific questions: How do we sleep? How do we learn and remember? How do our genes determine who we are? Can genomic studies show how we have evolved? Because exploration of these questions is highly relevant to major social issues including learning disorders and addiction genetic testing and making informed health care choices students and teachers will learn to connect brain science and genomics to the larger world.

  • Abstract

    Project ARISE: Advancing Rhode Island Science Education is a professional development program for teachers designed to engage students in inquiry-based approaches to learning about science bring cutting-edge research into the classroom and improve the understanding of the relevance of science to everyday life. The core of Project ARISE is a year-long program for Rhode Island high school science teachers that will be co-taught by university faculty and graduate students. The goal of the program is to develop the tools and perspective that will enable high school teachers to integrate national science education standards and high-level concepts in molecular and genomic biology bioinformatics neuroscience and physiology into their high school science classroom. During the first year of the program Brown faculty and staff will work with a science education specialist from the Rhode Island Department of Education high school science teachers and an evaluation expert from the Education Alliance to design and refine course modules mobile laboratory projects and lesson plans focused on an inquiry-based approach to science and the broad-based concepts that are integral to it. During the summers of the program Brown faculty members and graduate students will team-teach a two-week course to 15 Rhode Island high school science teachers selected as fellows who will learn active inquiry-based teaching methods that will assist them in achieving the national science education standards for teacher professional development and for science teaching. Fellows will have access to mobile laboratory equipment as well as qualified scientific advisors during the school year so that they may implement new curriculum and concepts in their classrooms and conduct professional development in-service workshops. With the guidance of scientific advisors and trained fellows students will define a research question write an application for exploration carry out and interpret controled experiments and report their findings at the Nature of Discovery Symposium held at Brown University at the end of the school year. Lesson plans for middle and high school teachers developed by fellows will be posted on the Project ARISE Web site and will be presented to invited teachers at a meeting held at Brown University.

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    The objective of Project ARISE is to provide a transformative professional development experience for Rhode Island high-school science teachers and to engage high-school students in scientific inquiry and heighten their ability to see the broad relevance of science to their lives. The evaluation of the professional development component will use questionnaires observations and interviews to measure the understanding Page 147 SEPA Project Descriptions and implementation of concepts and practices discussed in the course and to measure the students’ responses to the new teaching methods. The evaluation also will examine the quality of the materials produced by the Fellows and assess the involvement of Brown students and faculty in the Nature of Discovery project. The evaluation will have both formative and summative components. The formative evaluation will seek to determine how successfully Fellows achieve the learning goals of the course content and build concepts and scientific inquiry into pedagogy and how successfully this learning is transferred to the classroom. This evaluation also will inform the refinement of the course in years two and three. Interviews at the end of each summer or academic year session will provide rich opportunities for feedback on the progressive model of integration and for reviewing the effectiveness of course content structure and pedagogy. The Brown program seeks to integrate these responses so that it becomes a natural part of the learning process for both teachers and students (JAMA 1983; 250:777-781.) Evaluation activities on recent research devoted to assessing teacher practice (Clare and Aschbacher 2001; Matsumura Garnier Pascal & Valdes 2002; and Stecher Alonzo Borker & McClam 2003) observations and interviews conducted on site will be amplified with collection of a diverse set of instructional artifacts including text materials and student work. Artifacts could include handouts scoring rubrics overheads student homework notebooks and projects. Evaluators will use these sets of artifacts to rate dimensions of teacher implementation and student learning with respect to engagement of scientific content and inquiry. Over time comparisons will examine changes in cognitive depth integration of inquiry based strategies and uses of scientific knowledge. Together these artifact assessments interviews observations and journal data provide multiple data points from external teacher and student sources to provide reliable indicators of the effectiveness of this program. Evaluators will observe and note Fellows’ performance and participation in Project ARISE and conduct mid- and post-course interviews. Fellows will be encouraged to subscribe to Project ARISE’s listserv to ask questions and to share experiences. The evaluation will segment the threads of discussion into categories (e.g. content pedagogy implementation and development of course material) and identify commonly asked questions problems or best practices. This evaluation will be ongoing and responses will be incorporated into the course and materials. An external summative evaluation also will be conducted with the goal of assessing the effectiveness of the learning model. Observation interviews and journals will be used to assess the outcomes for course participants. The criteria for the outcomes include: understanding the course content; engagement with scientific inquiry; and ability to integrate new inquiry-based strategies in the classroom. The evaluators also will assess the outcomes for the high-school students in the program in order to determine their level of enthusiasm and their awareness of and involvement in the process of scientific inquiry. This will be a comprehensive review and data for all participants in the professional development course will be obtained. This approach to summative evaluation provides the opportunity to compare classes in years one through three in terms of satisfaction usefulness of materials and outcomes regarding learning and teaching. Fellows also will be evaluated on their performance based on the teaching materials they develop for their final project. These materials will be expected to indicate gains in content knowledge and scientific inquiry skills.

  • Resources for Sharing

    1. Mobile laboratory equipment. Trained fellows will have access to mobile lab equipment and reagents to conduct both lab exercises and independent research. Selected abstracts describing independent research projects will be posted on the Project ARISE website. 2. Shared lesson plans. Fellows will produce teaching materials such as lesson plans mini-units or curricular modules based on information learned in the program. Selected materials will be presented during the -summer workshops- held at Brown University during Years 2 and 3 of the program and will be posted on the program web site. 3. Discussion groups moderated by science/teaching expert 4. Nature of Discovery Symposium. 5. Website. The program website will post lab protocols lesson plans and best practices. This material will serve NH and VT teachers given the alignment of science standards. 6. Project Kaleidoscope. Brown University participates in this NSF-supported consortium of liberal arts colleges and universities committed to the dissemination of progress in science pedagogy.

Project Audience

High school biology teachers and students

Subjects Addressed

Neuroscience physiology molecular biology and bioinformatics; Inquiry-based approaches to learning