Effectiveness of a Curricular and Professional Development Intervention at Improving Elementary Teachers' Science Content Knowledge and Student Achievement Outcomes: Year 1 Results
Issue/Topic: Curriculum--Science; Teaching Quality--Professional Development
Author(s): Diamond, Brandon S.; Maerten-Rivera, Jaime; Rohrer, Rose Elizabeth; Lee, Okhee
Publication: Journal of Research in Science Teaching
Published On: 1/1/2014
Research suggests that the variation in teachers' science content knowledge significantly impacts the quality elementary teaching effectiveness, but the impact of teachers' science knowledge on their students' performance is rarely studied. In general, elementary school teachers have major gaps in their science content knowledge and these gaps are obstacles to effective teaching.
To examine the effect of teachers' science content knowledge on student achievement outcomes
From the literature:
- Professional development courses integrating science content knowledge and pedagogy have been found to increase teachers' confidence in teaching science.
- Professional development that include science content has been show to have a significant positive effect on student science test scores, suggesting that improving teacher content knowledge also improves students' science content knowledge.
- Reading and mathematics achievements impact science achievement.
- Teacher science knowledge (as measured by a science test) had a significant positive effect on their students' achievement, but teachers' self-reported knowledge did not affect student outcomes.
- Participating in science content professional development that directly targets the grade level the educators are teaching may have a direct positive effect on student achievement.
- More years teaching led to higher student achievement.
- The professional development intervention significantly improved teacher science content knowledge, as measured by teacher test scores and self-reported knowledge. Teachers in the treatment group used a fifth grade science curriculum, attended professional development workshops, and received school site support.
- Even teachers in the control group (who used the curriculum but did not receive professional development) had improved science content knowledge because a curriculum is major source of teacher content knowledge and teaching a topic increases the teacher's confidence with that topic.
- Teachers may benefit from professional development that update science knowledge because elementary school teachers are increasingly expected to have strong science content knowledge and because science fields are constantly changing.
- Teachers who have content-based professional development will have more accurate and up-to-date science knowledge than those who depend solely on what they learned in college.
Cluster randomized trial and literature review
227 fifth grade science teachers from 64 schools in a large and diverse urban school district and their students
Year data is from:
Data Collection and Analysis:
Analysis of fifth grade teachers' science content knowledge, measured by scores on a science knowledge test, college science courses taken, self-reported science knowledge, and classroom observations of some teachers, to study effects of science content knowledge and a professional development intervention offered to teachers in the treatment group (including workshops, supports, and a science curriculum) on their students' performance on a high-stakes science standardized test
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