KSU-led partnership receives additional $830‚000 to continue preparing science educators

Two−year professional development program will reach 150 teachers‚ seven school systems…

Georgia (Apr 13, 2009) — KSU-led partnership receives additional $830‚000 to continue preparing science educators

Shawn Jenkins

Abstract

KSU−led partnership receives additional $830‚000 to continue preparing science educators
Two−year professional development program will reach 150 teachers‚ seven school systems in northwest Georgia

KENNESAW‚ Ga. (April 13‚ 2009) — A popular Kennesaw State University−led program that trains Georgia elementary and middle school science teachers was recently awarded $830‚000 in additional funds by the Georgia Department of Education.

KSU’s Tom Brown‚ an associate professor of education science in the Bagwell College of Education‚ and Greg Rushton‚ an assistant professor of chemistry education with the College of Science and Mathematics‚ launched the Northwest Georgia Math/Science Education Partnership (Northwest Georgia MSP) in 2007 with a $600‚000 grant from the state Department of Education. The program addresses the growing need for teacher competency in the physical sciences.

In recent years‚ changes in elementary and middle school science curriculum have necessitated a more in−depth knowledge of scientific concepts — and cross−training in different content areas — specifically in the fourth‚ fifth‚ and eighth grades. The new grant allows professors Brown and Rushton to continue with their successful program‚ which has trained 120 science teachers so far.

The novel program fits with KSU’s College of Science and Mathematics’ and the Bagwell College of Education’s efforts to improve education for science and mathematics teachers. KSU is working to become one of the nation’s top producers of teachers in the fields of math and science.

“What [Brown and Rushton] are doing is probably the most effective way‚ short−term‚ to impact science and math teaching‚” said Laurence Peterson‚ dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. “The program focuses on giving educators who are interested in upgrading their skills in the classroom an inquiry−based approach that is very effective.”

The second round of the two−year program will begin in July 2009 and go through June 2011. It will incorporate the sixth−grade science curriculum‚ and has added two additional school districts — the city of Cartersville and Floyd County — bringing the total to seven.

Two other educational partners‚ the Northwest Georgia Science Museum in Cartersville and the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell‚ have been recruited to offer educators hands−on field teaching opportunities.

In the first iteration of the Northwest Georgia MSP‚ 120 science teachers from five school districts — Bartow‚ Chattooga‚ Cobb and Polk counties‚ as well as Rome city schools — completed 160 hours of training with the assistance of experienced teaching mentors and support from Georgia Tech and Georgia Highlands College‚ as well as with educational partners like the TigerFlight Foundation and Georgia Youth Science and Technology Centers‚ among others.

In its first two years‚ the program saw an unusually high 93 percent completion rate among its participants‚ and was highly lauded by education professionals who were hoping it would be continued in order to address the changing curriculum needs of science teachers in elementary− and middle−school grade levels

“Several of the school systems came to us and requested that we include sixth grade because of the changes in the curriculum at the middle school level‚” said Brown‚ co−director of the Northwest Georgia MSP. “Sixth grade used to teach physical science and eighth grade used to teach earth science — and they switched. Since most of the teachers choose to stay in their grade level because they prefer to teach a certain age range‚ they needed assistance with content knowledge and curriculum−appropriate activities.”

The KSU Center hosts teachers from Cobb County schools for five workshops during each year of the program‚ with partner GeorgiaHighlands College hosting those from the remaining districts. Georgia Tech serves as the project evaluator‚ performing pre− and post−test teacher assessments and classroom observations‚ and conducting participant evaluations of the MSP.

"Teachers selected to participate in this project will find the content of the workshops to be of the highest quality‚ and they will greatly appreciate the hands−on activities‚” said Arlinda Eaton‚ dean of the Bagwell College of Education. “We are confident that the teachers' experiences will lead to improved learning opportunities for their students."

Kennesaw State University is the third−largest university in Georgia‚ offering more than 65 graduate and undergraduate degrees‚ including new doctorates in education and business. A member of the 35−unit University System of Georgia‚ Kennesaw State is a comprehensive‚ residential institution with a growing student population of more than 21‚000 from 142 countries.


 

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu

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