Erin Scanlon Leads Survey of Teachers’ use of Aquatic Science Curriculum.
Nearly 200 science teachers participated in eight workshops held throughout Texas in advance of becoming part of a research study on aquatic science education funded by the Ewing Halsell Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife. The study is being conducted by researchers working through the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, the Institute for Water Resources Science and Technology at Texas A&M University in San Antonio, and educators at Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Attendees at the workshops were enlisted to participate in a Pilot Project Study to characterize, evaluate and identify specific improvements. The ultimate goals is to use research results to further enhance the value to teachers and students of the Texas Aquatic Science curriculum for middle and high school use.
Through coordination with faculty and educators at partner institutes, researcher Erin Scanlon developed a plan to assess the effectiveness and usefulness of the Texas Aquatic Science curriculum. The plan is designed to address specific questions and desired outcomes. A Ph.D. student at Texas State, Scanlon called on her experience as a science teacher to develop four measures to assess the following:
- What teachers think about the aquatic science curriculum and about aquatic science at the start of a semester,
- How much students learned about aquatic science over the course of a semester,
- How the implementation and usage of the aquatic science curriculum progresses at monthly increments, and
- Teachers’ attitudes about and suggested changes to be made in the aquatic science curriculum.
Participating teachers were surveyed at the beginning of the study to provide a baseline reference point of experience with teaching aquatic science, in advance of the 2015-16 school year:
- educational background,
- teaching experience (including what classes they teach),
- teaching philosophy,
- what pedagogies they employ,
- the types and ages of students, and
- how the teachers planned on using the Texas Aquatic Science curriculum in their classes (including which classes, what parts of the curriculum, and the extent to its usage).
Work to analyze results is underway and will reach completion after the end of the 2015-16 school year. This will be after teachers have completed a full year of instruction using the new curriculum.
Texas Aquatic Science is a comprehensive curriculum for water and aquatic science studies for middle and high school use, plus application at the university level for non science majors. The curriculum consists of a textbook in hard copy and fully on line, a massive teachers resource and activity guide that includes assessments, specially produced videos, and 220 online video lessons all fully aligned with Texas teaching standards. It’s become the top-ranked curriculum and source for information on aquatic science on the internet today.
Texas Aquatic Science includes the Texas Aquatic Science curriculum textbook, teacher guide and activities, videos, on-line lessons, and curriculum website.
Texas Aquatic Science is a comprehensive curriculum, from molecules to ecosystems, and headwaters to ocean, for middle school and high school students. Students and adult learners may navigate the online student portal. For teachers, the Teachers Guide is loaded with science investigations, games, models, cooperative learning activities, Internet projects, readings from the student guides, short videos, science journals, and field based assessments of water quality and environmental conditions in a variety of field trips. Most time is spent doing hands on activities from the Teacher Guide, over 700 pages of TEKS aligned, hands-on activities designed to engage all learners and all learner types. Lessons in each chapter begin with an activity to allow the teacher to assess what students know about the concepts to be studied. Lessons embed higher order thinking skills, provide depth and complexity of learning, and provide a wide variety of hands-on activities that engage students in many contexts and methods. Each lesson includes an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned by synthesizing the information and demonstrating their learning by developing creative products or performances.
For more information and background please take a look at this article Aquatic Science Curriculum Research to Improve STEM Water Education.
H2O is funded by the Ewing Halsell Foundation, San Antonio.
Photo supplied by Erin Scanlon.