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The Impact of Early Positive Results on a Mathematics and Science Partnership: The Experience of the Institute for Chemistry Literacy Through Computational Science


"After one year of implementation, the Institute for Chemistry Literacy through Computational
Science, an NSF Mathematics and Science Partnership Institute Project led by the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign's Department of Chemistry, College of Medicine, and National Center for
Supercomputing Applications, experienced statistically significant gains in chemistry content
knowledge among students of the rural high school teachers participating in its intensive, year-round
professional development course, compared to a control group. The project utilizes a two-cohort,
delayed-treatment, random control trial, quasi-experimental research design with the second cohort
entering treatment one year following the first. The three-year treatment includes intensive two-week
summer institutes, occasional school year workshops and year-round, on-line collaborative lesson
development, resource sharing, and expert support. The means of student pre-test scores for Cohort I
(n=963) and Cohort II (n=862) teachers were not significantly different. The mean gain (difference
between pre-test and post-test scores) after seven months in the classroom for Cohort I was 9.8
percentage points, compared to 6.7 percentage points for Cohort II. This statistically significant
difference (p<.001) represented an effect size of .25 standard deviation units, and indicated unusually
early confirmation of treatment effects. When post-tests were compared, Cohort I students scored
significantly higher than Cohort II and supported the gain score differences. The impact of these results
on treatment and research plans is discussed, concentrating on the effect of lessening rural teachers'
isolation and increasing access to tools to facilitate learning."