3 Working with community natural resource organizations

Wednesday, August 5, 2009: 8:40 AM
San Miguel, Albuquerque Convention Center
Kala Gonsler , Environmental Science and Resouces, Portland State University, Portland, OR
Background/Question/Methods Teacher professional development programs in ecology education are most effective when taught through a collaborative effort involving universities, local educators, and community natural resource organizations. A training framework taken from Ecoplexity, an established professional development program involving LTER sites, universities and high school teachers, was modified for use in a one week summer training with the City of Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services, a community natural resource partner. The learning goals, activities, and assessments were modified to meet the needs of the partners. The training involved the immersion of high school and middle school teachers in scientific research on urban water quality issues, supported by the reflective tool of qualitative modeling. Participants conducted field research to collect data and used tools provided by the university and the community natural resource organization to organize the data, analyze and interpret the results, and present their findings. Local scientists from Portland State University and the Bureau of Environmental Services provided support to the teachers throughout the week.

Results/Conclusions Teachers showed an increase in science content knowledge, understanding of ecosystem interactions, and confidence in conducting a research project as a direct result of participating in the program. This was measured by assessing the qualitative models and research posters that teachers created during the training. The models were used as a formative assessment as teachers added to and modified their models throughout the week, keeping track of changes in their understanding. The research poster served as a summative assessment of the teachers' learning of science content through their research projects. Teachers also created a plan of implementation showing how they intended to incorporate the knowledge gained at the training into research projects to be conducted in their classrooms the following school year. After completion, the findings of the class projects will support the Bureau of Environmental Services' efforts to track ecological trends at a wide variety of sites.