- Year 2018
- NSF Noyce Award # 1136414
- First Name Karen
- Last Name Renzaglia
- Discipline Other: multiple disciplines
Harvey Henson, SIUC, Henson@siu.edu
Lingguo Bu, SIUC, email@example.com
Sedonia Sipes, SIUC, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Bellamy, retired
Karen Renzaglia, SIUC, email@example.com
This project is important because it provides a model to teach research skills to both teachers and their students and thereby enhance hands-on pedagogy. Inquiry science and mentored scientific research are effective and empowering experiences for in-service teachers. During an intensive summer research program supported by the SIUC Noyce MTF Program, we engaged 29 teachers in a unified team-based authentic research. All participants benefited from the activities because they gained research experiences, enhanced their scientific knowledge, developed inquiry classroom activities, and improved leadership and communication skills.
Key elements to the summer program were 1) training by a dynamic professional in the focus area, 2) systematic and well-designed team efforts to collect, analyze and archive data, 3) development of lesson plans scaled for four grade bands (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12), and 4) a combined research and pedagogy symposium.
STEM graduate students led each of five teams that included at least one mathematics, one biology and one physical science teacher in conducting research project that involved tardigrade diversity in the Cache River wetland of Southern Illinois. Teachers have continued to work toward a scientific publication that reports their findings. Collectively, teachers have identified nine genera of tardigrades: Macrobiotus, Milnesium, Echiniscus, Astatumen, Hypsibius, Isohypsibius, Ramazzottius, Pseudechiniscus and Doryphoribius, the latter two of which are new to Illinois.
Based on participant responses to surveys, teachers valued the summer research experience, enjoyed working in teams and with scientists, and saw the experience as beneficial to their students. For example, the average response to “I understand better how science is done.” and “I feel more competent teaching my students the skills necessary to conduct scientific research.” was strongly agreed (4.68 and 4.7, respectively).
In the ensuing academic year, teachers followed up in a systematic effort to incorporate research skills into their classrooms. They conducted Action Research to assess the impact on student performance. We conclude that involvement in research using charismatic tardigrades is a powerful method of enhancing teacher knowledge and inquiry teaching, which translate into an enriched classroom experience. To date, teachers have presented 14 poster at four conferences: the Science in the South Conference, Illinois State Academy of Science annual meeting, Association of Southeastern Biologist, and the International Conference on Tardigrades. A teacher team led a workshop on using tardigrades in the classroom at the Illinois State Academy of Science. A teacher developed a webpage dedicated to teaching with tardigrades.