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Perspectives on Deepening Teachers' Science Content Knowledge: The Case of the North Cascades and Olympic Science Partnership

Abstract

"The North Cascades and Olympic Science Partnership (NCOSP) project served teacher leaders of grades 3-10 and disciplinary science faculty. NCOSP created and conducted a sequential series of three 80-hour residential Summer Academies. A central feature of the academies is the use of content immersions to help participants develop a more scientifically-accurate understanding of relevant big ideas in science. For example, the Life Sciences Academy included a focus on the function of food for animals, and the Earth Science Academy contained several chapters about plate tectonics. In addition to deepening teacher understanding of fundamental scientific content ideas, NCOSP devoted substantial time to pedagogical knowledge goals based on the application of principles from How People Learn (National Research Council, 1999) to science education. Facilitators modeled instructional strategies as they addressed scientific content goals, and some Academy assignments directly addressed the pedagogical knowledge goals. For example, participants revised selected lessons using resource materials that provided information about scientific content, instructional strategies, and common student misconceptions. Attention to scientific content, learning theory, and instructional strategies was cyclic, and work on instructional strategies incorporated scientific knowledge acquisition. The roles of evidence and questioning as scientific ways of building knowledge were modeled through the professional development activities."

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