High school science teachers from the New Castle County Vocational Technical (Vo-Tech) School District and nine University of Delaware science graduate fellows spent Feb. 16 at UD assessing student learning of science concepts as part of a three-year, $1.7 million National Science Foundation (NSF) GK-12 grant to UD. The workshop, part of a professional development day for the district, was designed to bring the two groups together in an ongoing partnership to benefit science curriculum and pedagogy in northern Delaware.
Watson, senior associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the workshop, which included teachers from Delcastle, Hodgson, Howard and St. Georges vo-tech high schools, focused on how science educators can best use transfer tasks to give students opportunities to demonstrate what they've learned in the classroom and to help educators assess student learning. Watson said transfer tasks give students the opportunity to apply information in a new context and to work at a higher level.
The daylong workshop is collaborative, Watson said, with teachers and fellows working together in small groups to develop new transfer tasks and to design new activities for the classroom.
“We try to put them in the role of the students, have them do what you expect the students to do,” Watson said. “Then, they have a better idea of what it is they should be doing for their own students.”
The NSF grant also gives nine qualified UD doctoral candidates the opportunity to partner with eight other high school science teachers for a year in the New Castle County Vocational Technical School District. The fellows receive a $30,000 stipend and tuition waivers to work in science classroom two days a week, learning about teaching and sharing their own expertise in their chosen fields. After the year, the fellows give presentations to both students and grant participants about their research and experience in the program.
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