Impact of a student–teacher–scientist partnership on students' and teachers' content knowledge, attitudes toward science, and pedagogical practices

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Abstract

Engaging K-12 students in science-based inquiry is at the center of current science education reform efforts. Inquiry can best be taught through experiential, authentic science experiences, such as those provided by Student–Teacher–Scientist Partnerships (STSPs). However, very little is known about the impact of STSPs on teachers' and students' content knowledge growth or changes in their attitudes about science and scientists. This study addressed these two areas by examining an STSP called “Students, Teachers, and Rangers and Research Scientists” (STaRRS). STaRRS was incorporated into the existing long-standing education program “Expedition: Yellowstone!” For teachers, a pre-test, intervention, post-test research design was used to assess changes and gains in content knowledge, attitudes, and pedagogical practices. A quasi-experimental, pre-test–post-test, comparison group design was used to gauge gains in students' content knowledge and attitudes. Data analyses showed significant positive shifts in teachers' attitudes regarding science and scientists, and shifts in their pedagogical choices. Students showed significant content knowledge gains and increased positive attitudes regarding their perceptions of scientists. The findings indicate that STSPs might serve as a promising context for providing teachers and students with the sort of experiences that enhance their understandings of and about scientific inquiry, and improve their attitudes toward science and scientists. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 51: 84–115, 2014

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