Quest for learning: A study of teachers' perceptions of the Satellite Education and Environmental Research Program
Kathryn A. Ahern, The University of Nebraska - Lincoln, United States
The University of Nebraska - Lincoln . Awarded
The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of teachers who participated in the Satellite Education and Environmental Research (SEER) Program Water Project, a curriculum design course developed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The distance education course was a complex intervention which used the Nebraska Mathematics and Science Initiative's Model Program criteria for inquiry-based curriculum. Teachers formed communities of inquiry, experienced scientific inquiry processes, integrated different disciplines to create new thematic science curricula, and were encouraged to employ innovative pedagogical practices. National Science Education Standards and Nebraska Mathematics and Science Frameworks were consulted to develop important science process skills and concepts. Multicultural science education was addressed through investigation of local water issues. Teachers were encouraged to form community partnerships, supported with testing materials for conducting scientific research, and expected to use computer technology.
Grounded theory was used to examine interviews of 26 participants for their perceptions of the effects of the intervention on their teaching strategies. The self-reports were triangulated through the external evaluation report, classroom artifacts, and a limited number of observations of classroom and field activities. Open coding was used to categorize the interview responses and to propose relationships among them. The central phenomenon that emerged from the axial and select coding was the changed focus: teaching science more thematically. Three theoretical propositions were posed to guide further inquiry: (1) teachers need opportunities and resources to experience science as an authentic, tenable, and realistic process if they are to develop curriculum and focus classroom activities on scientific inquiry; (2) autonomous learning communities must be fostered at downlink sites if distance learning experiences are to affect teachers' practices; (3) teachers from homogeneous white communities are more willing to alter their practices if multicultural science education experiences with processes (learning to teach in a more functionally multicultural style) precede multicultural content (learning about contributions and perspectives various individuals and ethnic groups may have on science issues).
Ahern, K.A. Quest for learning: A study of teachers' perceptions of the Satellite Education and Environmental Research Program. Ph.D. thesis, The University of Nebraska - Lincoln.
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