THE EFFECTS OF A PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FOR PHYSICS TEACHERS ON THEIR TEACHING AND THE LEARNING OF THEIR STUDENTS
The purposes of the study were 1) to investigate the effects of the 2000 Iowa Professional Development Program on classroom teaching and student learning and 2) to examine the effectiveness of Constructivist/STS approaches in terms of student perceptions regarding their science classrooms, student attitudes toward science, and student creativity. The 2000 Iowa Professional Development Program which focused on Constructivist/STS approaches was carried out at the University of Iowa for visiting Korean physics teachers.
Several methods of data collection were used, including observations by means of classroom videotapes, teacher perception surveys, teacher interviews, and student surveys. The data collected was analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Major findings include:
1. The 2000 Iowa Professional Development Program did not significantly influence teacher perceptions concerning their teaching in terms of Constructivist/STS approaches in their classrooms.
2. The 2000 Iowa Professional Development Program significantly influenced improvement in teaching practices regarding Constructivist/STS approaches.
3. Students taught with Constructivist/STS approaches perceived their learning environments as more constructivist than did those taught with traditional methods.
4. Students taught with Constructivist/STS approaches improved significantly in the development of more positive attitudes toward science, while such positive attitudes decreased among students taught with traditional methods.
5. Students taught with Constructivist/STS approaches improved significantly in their use of creativity skills over those taught in traditional classrooms.
6. Most teachers favored the implementation of Constructivist/STS approaches. They perceived that students became more interested in lessons utilizing such approaches over time. The major difficulties which the teachers experienced with regard to the implementation of Constructivist/STS teaching include: inability to cover required curriculum content; getting away from textbooks; acceptance by parents, community, and supervisors; motivating students to be involved in classroom activities; and lack of materials for Constructivist/STS teaching. The results imply that efforts to improve educational conditions, in tandem with more consistent and ongoing professional development programs, are necessary to encourage teachers to use what they learned, to keep their initial interest and ideas alive, and to contribute specifically to the reform of science education.
Of a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the Doctor of
Philosophy degree in Science Education
in the Graduate College of
The University of Iowa
Thesis supervisor: Professor Robert. E. Yager