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Development and Use of a Science Lesson Plan Analysis Instrument for Evaluating Teacher Practice and Informing Program Instruction


"This paper describes the development and use of an instrument for analysis and evaluation of teacher-submitted multi-day lesson plans. Lesson plan analysis is complementary to teacher survey and classroom observation as a method for measuring changes in the classroom practices of teachers; our purpose is to evaluate the effect of teacher engagement in an intensive professional development program. The Science Lesson Plan Analysis Instrument (SLPAI) has been utilized to gain formative baseline information about the teaching practices of incoming program cohorts in order to tailor both pedagogical and content instruction appropriately. The results of a comparative baseline study of incoming high school chemistry teachers and middle grades science teachers indicated several significant differences between the teaching practices of the two groups, which were validated by survey data. Middle school teachers scored significantly higher on average on items dealing with socio-cultural and affective issues and the portrayal and uses of the practices of science. However, both groups had an average score far below the satisfactory level for the individual item dealing with the accurate representation of the nature of science to students. The SLPAI has also been used to track and describe changes in teaching practice and pedagogical knowledge at both the individual and cohort level over time and thereby provide evidence of program effectiveness. After one year of program instruction, statistically significant improvement was seen in the average scores of middle-grades science teachers in the areas of alignment with endorsed practices and cognitive and metacognitive issues. However, no improvements of already low scores were seen on the nature of science and error analysis items. This problematic result was communicated to faculty members, and we report on the responses of several instructors who revised their instructional plans accordingly."