Science Teachers’ Professional Development

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Introduction

Over the last few years, science teachers have been facing various challenges (Otero et al., 2006). Some of the intricate issues in the arena of science education encompass the increasing utilization of internet as a source of data, the desire by teachers to meet standards as well as preparing learners for exams that meet standard requirements, religious and political opposition to advanced science instruction (Wilson, 2013). Teachers knowledgeable in pedagogy as well as science are important for resourceful science and math education in both secondary and primary schools. Nevertheless, in United States Universities a considerable small number of undergraduate students are not taking teaching courses (Otero et al., 2006).

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Besides, majority of high school physics teachers do not have a minor or a major in the discipline and there is also a significant shortage of chemistry, physics as well as math teachers in the U.S (Wilson, 2013). Evidence indicates that the shortages of science teachers have unconstructively contributed to poor performance of students in these areas (Bantwini, 2012). The university of Colorado has developed a program that play a critical role in engaging education as well as science faculty in solving national concerns in the field of education(Otero et al., 2006).

Dearn (2012) posits that over the last few years, the decreasing interest in science at tertiary level, secondary as well as primary level has been researched and documented. In order to provide science students with rewarding in addition to rich experience, there is need to take into consideration the manner in which the sciences are typically taught at tertiary, secondary as well as primary levels (Dearn, 2012). Besides, researchers need to investigate the reasons why there is decreasing interest in science to find effective way of increasing the interest of students in sciences (Ross et al., 2012).

It is suggested that science teachers ought to teach science as a stimulating field of intellectual inquiry as opposed to as a process of recalling/memorizing large information(Dearn, 2012). This will signify that there should be a dramatic transformation of how learning should be evaluated, how science subjects should be taught as well as the significance of learning science (Crippen, Biesinger & Ebert, 2010). Various evidences demonstrate that there is mounting literature regarding how science students undertake their learning activities in addition to approaches that enhances resourceful science teaching (Dearn, 2012).

Accountability for Preparing Science Teachers

Due to mounting calls for school accountability, more focus is placed on the role of science teachers as well as the theoretical links between classroom action and science teachers’ beliefs (Otero et al., 2006). To this effect, there is need to explore Science teachers professional development program with an objective of establishing their effect on science student learning, teaching practices as well as belief systems. As indicated by Lumpe et al. (2012), the core goal of this investigation was to evaluate the efficacy of the elementary teachers’ science teaching as they took part in a LPDP (Large-scale professional development program) as well as to establish the connection of these beliefs with science student learning.

Results from this study revealed that elementary science teachers who took part in a long-run LPDP demonstrated considerable gains in their efficacy of teaching the science subjects. The study also found out that male science teachers have a tendency to exhibit more constructive beliefs as opposed to female science teachers.

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Freire et al. (2011) conducted a study with an objective of apprehending how science students assess the teaching-learning materials. Those who took part in this study included 134 secondary science students. Written documents, questionnaires as well as interviews were utilized to collect data from participants (Freire et al., 2011). A qualitative analysis was used to analyze information gathered from written documents and interviews while a quantitative analysis was employed to analyze information gathered through questionnaires (Triventi, 2010).

The findings of this study demonstrated that apprehending the link between daily life as well as science, creating a critical thinking atmosphere in addition to taking part in practical activities were the most issues that were perceived as resourceful to science students(Freire et al., 2011).

The Science Teachers’ professional development Standards

The standards of the next generation science will demand LPD (Large-scale professional development) for the entire educators who are teaching science subjects (Wilson, 2013). Available literature demonstrates that aspects linked with substantial transformation in educators’ skills continue to frustrate the search for a direct response to the query of how to provide the much-needed support to science educators (Wilson, 2013). An approach that offers a systematic technique to reform holds promise for enhancing professional development effectiveness (Wilson, 2013).

Research on Science Teachers’ Professional Developments

Various studies have conducted on science as well as arts teachers’ professional developments (West, 2011 & Postholm, 2012). Moyer-Packenham et al. (2011) carried out a study to explore the PD(Professional development) activities offered for science as well as mathematics teachers in the NSFMSPP(National science foundation’s math and science partnership program) by assessing a cross-sectional sample consisting of at least two thousands PD activities within the program. Surveys as well as secondary source documents were utilized to collect data for this study. Outcome, content, collective participation as well as form of PD offerings was examined (Moyer-Packenham et al., 2011).

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The findings of this study discovered that PD activities for science as well as mathematics teachers were mixed (Moyer-Packenham et al., 2011). There was considerable evidence of sufficient duration, concentration on content-specific training as well as collective participation by both science and mathematics teachers at the similar grade levels (Moyer-Packenham et al., 2011). Nevertheless, the study also discovered that workshops as well as courses remain the principal form of professional development delivery.

Besides, there are considerable fewer measures utilized to evaluate the professional development activities and joint ventures did not link professional development activities for science as well as mathematics teachers with science students’ achievement outputs and classroom practices (Hartshorne, 2008). Results from this study also demonstrated that delivery of professional development has implemented significant research-oriented approaches, however, the partnerships out to devise improved techniques for documenting development in science teachers’ knowledge as well as linking that development with science students outputs(Moyer-Packenham et al., 2011).

Science Teachers’ Professional Programs for In-service Teachers

Ergul, Baydik and Demir (2013) conducted study to explore the views of pre-service as well as in-service science education teachers on the undergraduate science education programs, professional competencies in addition to their field competencies. Those who took part in this study included 107 science education teachers drawn from four different universities. An information form was utilized to collect information as well as science education program field competencies scale that were designed by the investigator. The findings from this study showed that graduate science teachers view themselves as well as their teaching education more resourceful as opposed to teachers with science education certificate and subject matter educators (Burton, 2013).

Science Teachers’ Professional Programs for Pre-service Teachers

Tatar et al. (2012) carried out a study with an objective of investigating PST (Preserve teachers) mental models of teaching science. Those who participated in this study included 300 pre-service teachers drawn from Turkey. Out of these participants, 189 were females while 111 were males. A DASTT-C (Draw a science teacher test-checklist) was utilized. The study was divided into two sections. In the first part, the PSTs were asked to draw a picture of them as an educator who teaches science.

In the second part of the test, the PSTs were asked to provide answers to question regarding what is the science teacher doing. The findings of this study demonstrated that PSTs mental theory of teaching science were in the category of constructivist/ inquiry or exploratory teaching (22%), didactic/explicit teaching (17%) and conceptual teaching (61%). The study also found out that there was no considerable difference between female and male.

Katz et al. (2011) conducted a study to explore the PID (Professional identity development) of science educator candidates taking part in an IASI (Informal afterschool science internship) in a FSTP (Formal science teacher preparation program). The study utilized qualitative research technique. Information was gathered from the researchers, informal internship educators as well as from science teachers’ candidates (Achoui, 2009). An identify development model was employed in analyzing the retrieved information.

Results from this study indicated that the experience obtained from AII (After school informal internship) played an integral role in giving the science teachers the courage to view themselves as implementing suggestions by SESD (Science education standards documents). This encompassed mounting evidence in enhancing hands-on science collaborative work, inquiry as well as participation. In addition, to be taken into consideration includes sensitivity to diversity in addition to constructive attitudes (Katz et al., 2011).

Challenges for Science Teachers Profession Development Program for both In-service and Pre-service Teachers

Kudenko et al. (2011) contends that assessment of LPDP (Large-scale professional programs) in a comprehensive but in a cost-effective manner poses various difficulties. Majority of study evidence regarding the efficacy of PD in science education have concentrated on the findings of small-case researches that utilize stratified/clustered sampling techniques. The current study explored the extent as well as the nature of alterations on a national scale from higher proportion of science teachers’ participation in PD courses.

Triangular approach of analysis was employed in this study which reported effects from various sources encompassing evidence from course leaders, survey of line managers, interviews with subjects as well as effect toolkit forms. The findings of this study demonstrated that apart from the direct effect on science teachers’ own practice in classrooms, there is considerable evidence connecting other science teachers as well as the entire practice of the school. The utilization of the assessment toolkit entrenched in PD course is perceived as an integral process in progress monitoring as well as supporting the proposed change (Teferra, 2004).

Impact of Science Teachers’ Professional Development on Teachers’ Knowledge

Thwaite and McKay (2013) conducted an analysis of a number of lessons over a period of 9 weeks in a classroom containing pre-primary science students. The study utilized functional discourse analysis to describe how science educators utilize numerous approaches to structure the discourse to aid student learning in science subjects (Thwaite &McKay, 2013). These approaches encompass techniques for managing the topic as well as discourse subjects, approaches encompassing questioning in addition to means of tackling vocabulary (Thwaite &McKay, 2013).

Morgan (2012) carried a study to survey science teachers of one school as well as those in the local science hug group with an objective of establishing their satisfaction and confidence levels in connection to teaching science. The findings of this study demonstrated that science teachers had a feeling of reluctance and inadequacy to teach science subjects (Morgan, 2012). The study further recommended that actions should be undertaken to help the wellbeing of middle level science teachers (Morgan, 2012).

Impact of Science Teachers’ Professional Development on Students Outcome

Assistants in undergraduate learning have been employed with an objective of helping science faculty in rendering their course collaborative, interactive as well as student centered (Otero et al., 2006). All these factors have been perceived a critical in enhancing the performance of students in math and science subjects (Otero et al., 2006).The program as well employs these assistants as K-12 educators. To this effect, efforts to enhance education in undergraduate level are incorporated with attempts to employ as well as prepare K-12 science educators in the distant future (Otero et al., 2006). The program which started in 2003 have changed 21 course with participation of 125 learning assistants, four education faculty members as well as 28 math and science faculty members (Otero et al., 2006).

Impact of Science Teachers’ Professional Development on Curriculum

Crippen, Biesinger and Ebert (2010) conducted a study to offer a comprehensive assessment as well as description of 3-year PD (Professional development) project in a large urban setting within United States of America. The main drive of this project was CD (Curriculum development) which places more focus on integrated scientific study (Crippen et al., 2010). The objectives of this project encompassed the enhanced content knowledge of science teachers as well as their students, changed science teachers’ practice in addition to the growth of a professional learning society (Crippen et al., 2010).

Those who took part in this study included 50 secondary school science teachers who underwent a 2-week summer institute and who possessed a graduate-level coursework in the course the academic year (Crippen et al., 2010). The findings of this study demonstrated that there were enhancements in science teachers’ content knowledge as well as major alterations in the classroom attributes of science teachers’ participants (Crippen et al., 2010).

The study further revealed that those students who were taught by science teachers who fully took part in the PD were likely to perform better than those students who were taught by science teachers who did not take part in PD programs (Crippen et al., 2010). The findings of this research add to the existing knowledge regarding delivering resourceful as well as contextual pertinent PD (Crippen et al., 2010).

An inexperienced and poor science teacher has the potential to unconstructively affect the outcome of students even after the students have left the class (Southerland et al., 2012). In the process of defining a curriculum, it is critical that science teachers possess a detailed apprehension of approaches for assessing the outcome of students, techniques for assessing curricula as well as instructional delivery and the content of the curriculum (Southerland et al., 2012).

Besides, when developing a curriculum, science teachers should be given sufficient time to plan, create, adopt and assess the curriculum. Numerous studies have revealed that one of the reasons why students migrate from one school to another is attributed to poor academic performance (Southerland et al., 2012). Most parents who are not contented with grades their children receive in school are more than willing to transfer their children to another school (Southerland et al., 2012).

Impact of Science Teachers’ Professional Development on Classroom Practice

Scherz, Bialer and Eylon (2008) conducted a study in the context of an evidence-oriented progressive PDP (Professional development programs) in which science educators documented evidence regarding their practice portfolio. The framework of progressive PDP was connected to the LSS (Learning skills for science) program which supports the integration of high-order capabilities as well as learning skills into content knowledge and science school curriculum (Scherz et al., 2008).

Learning skills for science consisted of knowledge presentation, information representation, observing and listening, scientific writing, scientific reading as well as information retrieval (Scherz et al., 2008). The core objective of this research was to examine what can be learned from evidence-oriented portfolios concerning teachers’ learning skills for science. Specifically, the study explored the levels as well as the dimensions of science teachers’ practice, their capacity to present evidence regarding their practice as well as the profiles of the accomplishments of science teachers (Scherz et al., 2008).

Diagnostic tool was utilized in the study that mirrored the different dimensions of science teachers’ attainments in learning skills for science practice such as evidence preparation, influence in the school system, assessment, utilizing learning materials, and model of instruction as well as views concerning learning skills for science instruction (Scherz et al., 2008). Hierarchy of levels on a scale of 1 to 5 were identified for every of these dimensions (Scherz et al., 2008).

The findings of this study discovered that there is different learning skills for science multidimensional PF (Professional profile) which exhibited weak as well as strong aspects in the performance of science teachers(Scherz et al., 2008). The study concluded that evidence-oriented portfolios regarding science teachers’ practice could play an integral role in evaluating the accomplishments of science teachers as well as reliable source for customizing PDP to the desires of science teachers (Scherz et al., 2008).

Ebenezer et al. (2012) conducted a case study to describe the experiences of secondary science educators regarding his PD (Professional development) education as well as training in IT (Innovative technologies) within the framework of involving science students in environmental study projects. The narrative was derived from the reflective reports of the science teachers while involving science students in IT-based environmental study projects within their classrooms as well as reflective reports of science teachers who took part in 3 summers IPs (Institute programs) ( Ebenezer et al., 2012).

The explanations provided by science teachers regarding the alterations in science students’ view of the IT fluency illustrates the teachers’ individual narrative (Ebenezer et al., 2012). The teachers attributed this development to augment in classroom time dedicated to science education as a results of the school policy regarding time-scheduling as well as an individual dedication to the growth of their own and their science students’ IT fluency within the framework of carrying out environmental study projects ( Ebenezer et al., 2012). This research further suggested that immersive PD chances have the capacity to generate considerable increase in science students’ view regarding their IT abilities (Ebenezer et al., 2012).

Impact of Science Teachers’ Professional Development on Whole Institution

Various evidences have demonstrated that learning assistant programs have played an integral role in increasing the proportion of quality future teachers in science subjects (Lee & Maerten-Rivera, 2012). Besides, it has enabled learners’ enhanced apprehension of science content as well as taking part in teaching education and an array of science faculty in course transformation (Otero et al., 2006). Moreover, there is an array of stakeholders such as cognitive scientists, policymakers, teachers as well as scientist who play a critical role in influencing how science education ought to be delivered in both primary and secondary schools (Otero et al., 2006).

Conclusion

It is apparent that professional skills are an indispensible skill that distinguishes the adept or competent science teacher from the less-consummate teacher (Wilson, 2013). Science teachers are in better positions to instil these priceless skills in science students in both primary and secondary schools (Otero et al., 2006). Numerous and diverse teaching strategies should be employed by science teachers to cultivate reflections, deduction, analytical, diagnostic thinking and research assessment skills in nursing students (Ebenezer et al., 2012). Anyone could contend that critical thinking skills should be intrinsic or innate characteristics of any science teacher (Wilson, 2013).

The interpretation of critical thinking should be based on the understanding that critical thinking is a process rather than a technique to be taught (Wilson, 2013). The education sector is undergoing a histrionic transformation as a result of change catalysts such as advancement in information technology, economic rationalism as well as globalization (Lee & Maerten-Rivera, 2012). In order to effectively cope with this ever-changing environment, science teachers’ professional development is critical (Otero et al., 2006). The responsibility of science teachers as well as school principals in a learning institution is extreme and varied (Triventi, 2010).

Oddly enough, the only invariable in the school managers’ ever-rising tasks is that of change, which can be of various forms such as unexpected change, change in staff and faculty, change in the student body, curriculum change, and change in physical environment (Lumpe et al., 2012). The most significant is transformation that can have the capacity to usher in vast improvement in universities, community college, as well as district schools.

It is evident from the above literature review that the public and private institutions are experiencing a dramatic change (Wilson, 2013). These changes can come in different forms such as unanticipated change, faculty and staff transformation, change in the student body, curriculum change as well as change in physical environment (Otero et al., 20006). To cope with these changes, school managers must put in place professional development programs that will assist science teachers to improve the outcomes of their students (Liberman, Kolikant & Beeri, 2012).

They must encourage, empower and inspire science teachers in addition to building consensus with all major stakeholders so as realize a common objective (Liberman et al., 2012). Besides, they must put in place programs that can effectively deal with educational challenges (Otero et al., 2006).

When developing a curriculum for both primary and secondary schools, the role of experienced science teachers as well as their support is integral (De Nobile, 2007). Various studies have indicated that the science teaching staff full of experienced teachers has the capacity to contribute positively to the development of school curriculum (De Nobile, 2007 & Ali, 2013). In addition, surveys play a critical role in the development of a school curriculum (West, 2011).

A recent surveys shows that majority of the parents wanted as stronger emphasis in mathematics as well as allocation of more time when teaching the subject (Otero et al., 2006). When developing a school curriculum, teachers must be given more time to plan, create, adopt as well as assessing the proposed curriculum (Liberman et al., 2012).

Recommendation and Reflection

This paper recommends that science teachers should try as much as they can to develop a conducive environment for science learning in their classrooms (Lee & Buxton, 2013). This environment should enhance problem-oriented learning, independent inquiry, and cooperative, social, flexible as well as actively engaging (Otero et al., 2006). These environments will play an integral role in giving science teachers an opportunity to enhance the development as well as the utilization of the 21st century skills in those students who are taking science subjects in both primary and secondary schools (Otero et al., 2006).

Science students are likely to perform well in science subjects when they are flexible, working in social as well as cooperative groups(Lee & Buxton, 2013). Science teachers should make use of the science students’ desire to socialize with the members of their peer groups and implement cooperative technique to learning, lab groups as well as investigative teams (Ramnarain & Modiba, 2013). Teamwork must be organized in a manner that enhances constructive as well as meaningful interactions (West, 2011).

Besides, science teachers must work jointly so that information taught and learned in one class can be reviewed and transferred to the next class (Ramnarain & Modiba, 2013). For instance, various evidences have shown that cognitive development can be improved as biology and chemistry teachers work joint to show how these two disciplines overlap or are closely related(Walker et al. 2012).

Since science student should be continuously assessed and monitored to establish their academic development and areas of weaknesses, this paper will recommend that science teachers should place more focus on techniques and evaluation models that have the capacity to enhance science learning as opposed to measuring it (Diaconu, 2012). To this effect, science teachers should focus on formative evaluation that demands reasoning as well as critical thinking (Otero et al., 2006).

The findings of various studies have indicated that when science teachers are able to understand the level of knowledge owned by students, they will have the potential to assist students to connect the new knowledge introduced to them with knowledge acquired in the past(Hobbs, 2012). Moreover, science teachers should design exams that does not place more focus on establishing factual knowledge but ones that promote problem solving reasoning as well as order thinking (Anderman, Sinatra & Gray, 2012).

With respect to professional development of teachers, it is critical to encompass professional growth activities that have the capacity to enhance educators’ apprehension of how science students learn as well as how to promote the development of 21st century skills in science learners (Ramnarain & Modiba, 2013). The most resourceful programs for science teachers’ professional development will be the ones that incorporate data regarding science students’ learning in addition to growth with the content of the science subject (Anderman et al., 2012). When appraising curriculum in terms of its structure, emphasis needs to be placed on the quality of the content, how the contents are organized and how students will be able to process and evaluate the information (Liberman et al., 2012).

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