often in science education we require students to grind through foundation
building lessons before we give them the opportunity to apply their creative,
RET vision statement echoes this and is the founding principal of this program.
this is exactly the weakness of the CSULA STEER Program. My strongest suggestion
for improving this program is to involve the teachers in research projects
on the FIRST days. After the teachers have an opportunity to grapple with
the larger vision of the main research project and its enormous complexity,
then they can more-effectively and efficiently engage in lessons and tutorials
that will help them understand and participate in the research related to
the main project. The teachers will be more motivated, more interested, more
ready to learn the tutorials and lessons, and more connected with the P.I.s,
the students and the projects.
suggestions fall into 5 areas:
of the research hypothesis on which we are working.
the 5 weeks the teachers should be presented a problem or hypothesis they
will be working on. The teachers should be lead though a variety of tutorials
and assignments with an opportunity to apply those developing skills to
a larger context or project.
in research with the PI and students.
teachers should work with a PI or student on any of the main research
projects. Even though the projects might require high levels of sophistication
and understanding it would have been valuable to allow the teachers to
grapple with the complexity of these projects. This would have been helpful
to provide motivation and context for the tutorials and lessons.
was too much interest in one of the research areas and too little interest
in the others. Most teachers wanted to work in the digital imaging lab.
This problem would not have been so important if the teachers were involved
in the main project in the other labs. However, I suggest that the teachers
should choose the projects they would like to work on when they apply. When
teachers submit their application next year, they should be presented an
abstract of the 5 different research projects offered by the program as
well as the computer applications and conceptual lessons they will be trained
on to participate in that project. Then, the P.I.s can select 2-3 teachers
for each project type, based on the teacher's interest.
applications and concepts in the context of the research.
people learn best if they are learning concepts and skills AND APPLYING
those concepts and skills to a larger project AT THE SAME TIME. This structure
of learning and teaching is difficult for the teacher because it requires
them to stop, review, and jump around their linear lessons. However, with
motivated and curious teachers as their pupils, this method would be far
more beneficial to all in the end.
- Weekly schedule and coordination
On each Friday, the P.I. , student assistant, and teachers for each
group should meet to coordinate the next week's schedule. It should be clear
what the teachers are working on, and who, when and where to meet each day.