The Program & Online Learning

The Program is a series of three graduate level courses focused on improving teacher's understanding of physical phenomena and science pedagogy through hands-on investigations, Inquiry-based science sessions, and classroom research. Each course consists of a science strand and a pedagogic strand. Each course is a hybrid blend of face-to-face interaction combined with on line learning. Students are expected to spend 6-9 hours on weekly assignments.

Course One: Some of What Matters About Matter: Intensive Properties

Students consider and evaluate models of matter that describe and explain phenomena such as diffusion, compression, and thermal expansion at the microscopic level through a specific model of investigation. Students use video case studies to make their understanding of inquiry more explicit, providing opportunities to think about what children do when engaged in inquiry, and what teachers do to support their learning.

Course Two: The Case of Heat and Temperature

Students work to disentangle these related but fundamentally different concepts, using probes to measure temperature change and computer software to explore and explain thermal phenomena using the particulate theory of matter. Formative assessment, classroom assessments that inform instruction, is studied so that participants: (a) develop skills for eliciting and interpreting scientific ideas held by students; (b) become familiar with research about children's science ideas; and (c) consider possible strategies to encourage further development of students' scientific understanding.

Course Three: Earth's Energy Balance

This is a semester-long investigation of the global energy balance of Earth. Participants work with scientific models, maps, satellite images, and quantitative data, using physical models, light probes, temperature probes and spectroscopes to investigate light and its interaction with matter. Participants build on work with assessment from previous course, coming to understand formative assessment as an integral part of the teaching-learning process.

Children's Inquiry is about analyzing case studies and video showing children talking about their own science ideas, and developing and testing classroom strategies. The investigations and analyses build expertise on how to engage students in science inquiry, and how to plan for and support children's science inquiry in the classroom.

Online Discussion Forums are interactive and integral to the course; participants report their analyses, posit explanations, and bring questions. Course facilitators—a scientist and a science educator—support the group's discussion and learning. Feedback given and received, and is what pushes ideas further and brings understanding to the next level. Each small group of 5-7 people, is asynchronous, and a lively, interactive place to get to know colleagues. The facilitator focuses discussions on data analysis, and provides feedback on the group's work.

Data Analysis is a key part of learning science from investigations. Qualitative and quantitative data from investigations are analyzed to provide evidence for evaluating predictions, generating explanations, and forming new questions.

Investigations may be carried out over hours or weeks, involve collecting data or analyzing an existing data set, and provide opportunities for participants to design their own investigations