Teacher Institute for the Experience of Science

  • Project Description

    1) Create a professional development program that fosters an increased comfort level among middle school teachers engaged in inquiry-based science and supports the development of classroom activities focusing on the complex issues in biomedical sciences (i.e. bioethics) 2) Create a media training program for scientists to more effectively communicate the importance of biomedical research to the public and inspire the next generation of researchers especially among underrepresented populations and those students located in rural areas.

  • Abstract

    Cultural gaps between scientists and school educators have hampered the direct transfer of groundbreaking research to schools teachers and students. Teachers are a potential bridge to close this gap but all too often they are intimidated by rapid advances in science and technology. Scientists and clinicians need help in translating their work into messages that can be understood and appreciated by all. These cultural gaps between scientists and teachers lead to a number of damaging consequences including lost opportunities to educate and inspire young people-some of whom are themselves potential scientists-and public misconceptions about animal research genetic engineering and stem cell studies. These consequences threaten scientific research in the short- and long-term. Thus closing the cultural gaps between scientists and teachers is an important step both in recruiting future scientists and in creating a positive climate for groundbreaking research. To address these needs we propose a combined Phase I/II proposal that will improve the ability of our biomedical researchers to communicate the importance of their work to the general public by forging a unique partnership with middle school teachers. This mutually beneficial partnership will allow scientists to engage teachers in the rich research environments of two NCRR-funded centers on our campus the General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) and Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC). In turn the teachers will engage the scientists in translating the complex and sometimes controversial aspects of their research into a form appropriate for their classroom and the public. The strength of this partnership will come from building a mutual respect for and understanding of the unique skills of the respective partners. During dissemination the curricula will be adapted to a variety of cultural backgrounds and published on the Web.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    1) Workshop presentations by teachers at the Oregon Science Teacher Association annual meeting and the regional meeting of the National Science Teacher Association 2) Posting of research profiles posters and classroom activities on TIES website The Oregon Science Teacher (TOST) magazine and in presentations at regional and national NSTA meetings 3) Increase impact for rural populations through recruitment of rural teachers (in dissemination years of the grant) through a cooperation with the Oregon Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) and their HHMI-funded pre-college outreach initiative.

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    Evaluation Goal: The primary goal is to measure the impact of the TIES program on teachers and students. 1) Teachers – High level of satisfaction with TIES summer program. 2) Students – Increased interest in science and scientific careers. 3) Teachers & Students a) Increased knowledge of regulations related to and purposes of the use of humans and animals in research b) More favorable attitudes regarding the use of humans and animals in research c) Increased self-efficacy for talking with colleagues and students about the use of humans and animals in research. Evaluation Design – A comparison group design has been implemented in Year 2 in which pre- and post-surveys are administered to classrooms of students not taught by teachers involved in the TIES program. Pre- and post-surveys are also administered to TIES teachers. Focus groups were conducted with teachers and scientists in order to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the program allowing for project staff to make program adjustments. Results – The results below are for Year 1 of the TIES program and are for teacher outcomes only. Results for Year 2 including student outcomes will be available in the summer of 2008. 1) Teachers reported significant increases in knowledge regarding the use of humans and animals in research between the beginning and end of the TIES summer program. 2) Teachers’ trust in newspapers and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as sources of information decreased by the end of the program. 3) Teachers were significantly more comfortable talking about research with colleagues and students by the end of the program. 4) Teachers expressed high levels of satisfaction with the summer research program and 100% said that they would recommend this program to their colleagues. 5) Teachers expressed a preference for working with scientists in labs that provided a more hands-on experience and that were tailored to their needs as teachers. 6) Most teachers said that as a result of the TIES summer program they would now be able to more critically evaluate the use of animals and humans in specific research projects. Challenges/Lessons Learned – 1) The teachers had a better understanding of the need for basic research after having experienced clinical research environment 2) The reference to scientists as ‘mentors’ was changed to ‘scientific partner’ to underscore the collaborative nature of the interaction and enhance two-way communication 3) A well defined format for presentations by scientists was adopted that minimized the use of slides and encouraged greater interactive dialogue 4) The main product from the teacher-scientist collaboration evolved from a profile of the researcher and/or their lab to a public poster that was appropriate for the teacher’s classroom or public display by scientist 5) There is a delicate balance between the emotional and rational approach to humans and animals in research that varied widely between individual teachers

  • Resources for Sharing

    1) Research profiles generated by teachers about basic and clinical researchers and/or their labs 2) Classroom activities derived from teachers- experiences in both basic and clinical labs 3) Mentor training module for use with scientists at all levels of their careers

Project Audience

1) Middle school science social science language arts and health teachers 2) OHSU researchers (lab directors trainees and staff) 3) Middle school students in classes of teachers participating in TIES program

Subjects Addressed

1) Teachers- appreciation of the content method and context of biomedical research including the importance of basic science research human clinical trials and the ethics of human and animal research 2) Scientists- need for improved communication skills and the importance of sharing their research practices and discoveries with the public