Virginia Association of Science Teachers

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  • JVSE Vol. 10, No. 1

In This Issue

From the Editor:  Anne Mannarino
  • "Virginia Standards of Learning Data as a Means of Measuring Classroom Impact in a Teacher Professional Development Project"  Turina Lewis, Tim Loboschefski, Arlene Vinion-Dubiel, Hank Yochum, James Alouf, Jill N. Granger
Abstract:  This study examines the potential for using Virginia Standards of Learning test results as a quantitative measure of the effects of a teacher professional development project on student achievement. During the 2010-2011 academic year, thirteen elementary and middle school teachers participated in a yearlong professional development project on teaching science and math using an inquiry strategy. Teachers designed, implemented in their classrooms, and assessed four inquiry- based lessons throughout the school year. Virginia Standards of Learning test data for ten of the teachers for the years prior and after the project were obtained from collaborating school divisions in Central Virginia and analyzed for evidence of the effects of teachers’ participation in the professional development project on their students’ learning. Test questions that were directly related to the inquiry lessons implemented were analyzed separately to monitor potential impact of an inquiry strategy on student learning. Results of the analyses of the test data are mixed. Multiple challenges to using Virginia Standards of Learning test data to measure impact of teacher professional development on student learning are discussed. The study calls into question the validity of using aggregate standardized testing data as a meaningful measure of the quality of teacher professional development initiatives.
  • "Engaging Students from Diverse Backgrounds Using Inquiry-Based Science Curriculum"  Tammy R. McKeown, M.S., Suzanne V. Kirk, M.Ed., Lisa M. Abrams, Ph.D., Patricia W. Slattum, Pharm.D., Ph.D. 
Abstract: Inquiry-based instructional approaches are effective strategies to actively engaging diverse groups of learners with science content and skills. This article describes how an ongoing professional development program, Project CRESST (Enhancing Clinical Research Education for Science Students and Teachers), strives to create equitable learning opportunities for diverse populations of secondary students by providing cross-disciplinary innovative professional development experiences supported by easily integrated inquiry-based curricular materials.
  • "Transformation of a Traditional General Biology Laboratory Course to Authentic Scientific Inquiry: Lessons Learned"  Sarah M. Witiak, Tracy M. Walker, Leslie Y. Whiteman 
Abstract:  The purpose of this study was to measure the impact of scientific inquiry on students’ perceptions in a redesigned general biology laboratory course. It included an evaluation of the skills and other benefits for the student, as well as the investment of time and perceived difficulty. Changes in students’ perceptions were measured at the completion of the course using a pilot survey. Over a fifteen-week semester, students gradually progressed to high-level inquiry laboratory investigations with appropriate instructor scaffolding. We report the specific aspects of the course that students reported as having the greatest impact on their learning, and the elements of inquiry science that were more challenging to master. Findings demonstrated that overall, students felt positive about their experience in the course. The most strongly rated tasks related to reading scientific literature and to becoming intellectually independent. Results of the Spearman correlation found several statistically significant relationships among the students’ responses.
  • Special Addendum: Vexations & Ventures, Virginia Science Education at the Crossroads: Standardized Testing 

"Vexations & Ventures, Virginia Science Education at the Crossroads: Standardized Testing Explanation"  Anne Mannarino

"Vexation & Venture: Standardized Testing"  Daniel L. Dickerson

"Does Time on Task Determine What We Learn?"  Tricia Easterling

"VISTA Science Education Faculty Academy SEFA): Vexations and Ventures of Standardized Testing"  Harold A. Geller

"Standardized Testing"  Marilyn Lanier

"All Politics are Local: How Standardized Testing is Playing out in Virginia"  Juanita Jo Matkins

"Vexation and Venture: Might There Be a Way Out of the Testing Loop?"  Jacqueline T. McDonnough

"Less Emphasis on SOL Outcomes, More Emphasis on Curriculum"  Melissa Rhoten

  • Book Review: Anne Mannarino  Connecting Children to Nature by Michael Bentley, Michael Mueller, & Bruce Martin 

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