The Effects of a Professional Development Geoscience Education Institute Upon Secondary School Science Teachers in Puerto Rico

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ProQuest, 2007 - 313 pages
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The geographic and geologic settings of Puerto Rico served as the context to develop a mixed methods investigation on: (1) the effects of a five-day long constructivist and field-based earth science education professional development institute upon 26 secondary school science teachers' earth science conceptual knowledge, perceptions of fieldwork, and beliefs about teaching earth science; and (2) the implementation of participants' newly acquired knowledge and experience in their science lessons at school. Qualitative data included questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, reflective journals, pre-post concept maps, and pre-post lesson plans. The Geoscience Concept Inventory and the Science Outdoor Learning Environment Inventory were translated into Spanish and culturally validated to collect quantitative data. Data was analyzed through a constructivist grounded theory methodology, descriptive statistics, and non-parametric methods. Participants came to the institute with serious deficiencies in earth science conceptual understanding, negative earth science teaching perspectives, and inadequate earth science teaching methodologies. The institute helped participants to improve their understanding of earth science concepts, content, and processes mostly related to the study of rocks, the Earth's structure, plate tectonics, maps, and the geology of Puerto Rico. Participants also improved their earth science teaching beliefs, perceptions on field-based education, and reflected on their environmental awareness and social responsibility. Participants greatly benefited from the field-based learning environment, inquiry-based teaching approaches modeled, the attention given to their affective domain, and reflections on their teaching practice as part of the institute's activities. The constructivist learning environment and the institute's contextualized and meaningful learning conceptual model were effective in generating interest and confidence in earth science teaching. Some participants successfully integrated inquiry-based lessons on the nature of science and earth science at their schools, but were unsuccessful in integrating field trips. The lack of teacher education programs and the inadequacy of earth science conceptual and pedagogical understanding held by in-service teachers are the main barriers for effective earth science teaching in Puerto Rico. This study established a foundation for future earth science education projects for Latino teachers. Additionally, as a result of this investigation various recommendations were made to effectively implement earth science teacher education programs in Puerto Rico and internationally.
  

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Contents

LITERATURE REVIEW
17
METHODS
44
Table Page
55
2 Workshops conducted during the UPRs teacher education program
67
5 Participants teaching appointments
73
8 Sample qualitative data organizational scheme and analysis
88
9 Cultural validation modifications to the original GCIs items
97
RESULTS
104
8 GCI items answered correctly by the largest amount of participants
163
Table Page
166
10 Relationship of concepts and propositions per participant
172
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
187
LIST OF REFERENCES
204
Appendix A Spanish version of the consent form
227
Spanish version of the openended introductory questionnaire
233
Appendix E Spanish version of the earth science conceptual and content
239

1 Operational definitions of the final categories for reflective journal
118
3 CEAAFSC results summary
148
5 CEAAFSC items with the highest scores
154
Appendix F English version of the earth science conceptual and content
250
Appendix G Spanish version of the survey for the evaluation of earth science
260
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