1. Catrina Adams
  2. Education Director
  3. PlantingScience Digging Deeper Together: A Model for Collaborative Teacher/Scientist Professional Development
  4. https://plantingscience.org
  5. Botanical Society of America, BSCS, American Society of Plant Biologists
  1. Jodi Creasap Gee
  2. Education Technology Manager
  3. PlantingScience Digging Deeper Together: A Model for Collaborative Teacher/Scientist Professional Development
  4. https://plantingscience.org
  5. Botanical Society of America
  1. Joe Taylor
  2. Principal Scientist
  3. PlantingScience Digging Deeper Together: A Model for Collaborative Teacher/Scientist Professional Development
  4. https://plantingscience.org
  5. BSCS
  1. Anne Westbrook
  2. Science Educator
  3. PlantingScience Digging Deeper Together: A Model for Collaborative Teacher/Scientist Professional Development
  4. https://plantingscience.org
  5. BSCS
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Catrina Adams

    Catrina Adams

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 06:04 a.m.

    Thanks so much for stopping by to watch! 

     

     If you have any questions about the PlantingScience program, our website, or the professional development or research we are doing through Digging Deeper, please ask. This video was intentionally light on our research methods – we cover those in a bit more detail in last year’s STEM for ALL video.

     

     Although the Digging Deeper professional development workshops were part of this discrete research project, the larger PlantingScience program is free and open to all middle and high school teachers. We would love to grow our community with new teachers and scientist mentors, so please pass the opportunity along to colleagues who might be interested. You can learn more about the program and sign up at: https://plantingscience.org

     

    If you have participated in PlantingScience, it would be wonderful if you would share how the program has impacted you or your students.

     

    Thanks again to the partners, participants, and volunteers who make the program and this video possible.

     

     My co-presenters and I are looking forward to the conversations here this week!

  • Icon for: Courtney Tanenbaum

    Courtney Tanenbaum

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 07:41 a.m.

    This is a very exciting project! It was fantastic to hear the voices of the participants share their stories and all the benefits they have experienced and observed and to see the efficacy data. Could you speak to some of the challenges you experienced in implementing the project, and any helpful lessons learned that could inform the work of others in the field?

     
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    Jodi Creasap Gee
  • Icon for: Catrina Adams

    Catrina Adams

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 12:46 p.m.

    Thanks Courtney! It was really fun editing together footage from our participants. In terms of challenges, I think the biggest issue we ran into was not allowing enough time for website development on the front end of our grant. It felt a bit that first year as if we were trying to build under the feet of our running participants, keeping just ahead of their progress. This led to some frustration by the first cohort of participants, who were nervous after the summer workshop because they couldn’t test everything out on the website. We were showing them screenshots and mockups of how some things were going to work, since we didn’t have finished and tested pages for them to interact with quite yet. We supplemented this with online training just before the students came online in the fall. Over the course of the first year of implementation we made large improvements in usability of the website. By the time the second cohort of teachers participated in compensatory PD in the second year, many of the largest pain points and frustrations had been dealt with and everything went MUCH more smoothly. We collected data on cohort 1’s second year of implementation, and it will be very interesting to see how that compares when we analyze that data. But ultimately in our experimental design, it was the first year of implementation that was most important and that is what we’re using to show efficacy.  So I would say as a lesson learned…leave a bit more time for development and testing before beginning the research if it relies heavily on technology.
     
    Other issues we’ve had are in managing the projects to increase the consistency of conversation quality between projects. When there is a good rapport between the scientist mentor and the students, the conversations are extremely powerful for moving student thinking forward. But the cases where conversations break down on either end, either through the students not spending time online during the critical question formation and data interpretation phases, or through the scientist mentors becoming unavailable or unresponsive when the students need advice, the learning goals can be in peril. Our use of early career liaisons to help identify these issues and work with teachers and scientist mentors (and directly with students as needed) goes a long way towards helping to solve these problems. We spent a lot of time at our workshop in the second year directly addressing how to handle various concerns with the scientist liaisons, and then with everyone (scientist liaisons and teachers together). We relied heavily on reviewing and discussing actual projects and conversations pulled from the website to inform this part of the professional development. We’re taking a closer look at dialog within projects and hope to put out a paper with some insights regarding the factors that lead to quality student-scientist interactions in the future.
     
    The other thing we have done that worked extremely well was to bring selected participants from one year back as leaders in the next year, and to utilize participants in our dissemination efforts. I feel like lessons learned shared from one cohort passed on to the next by those who experienced it first-hand was powerful, and also helped to build a strong community of peer support. As we move into the dissemination phase we’re also able to make good use of participants in these efforts.

     
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    Jodi Creasap Gee
  • Icon for: Courtney Tanenbaum

    Courtney Tanenbaum

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2018 | 12:04 p.m.

    Thank you for being so open about your challenges and for sharing your lessons learned, including what you have found works well. These insights will be invaluable to others hoping to do similar work! I'm glad you brought up the mentoring relationship. It's such an important component and it certainly can be hard to find the right "fit" between mentor and student. I think it's fantastic that you brought in early career liaisons to support the mentoring process. Good luck moving forward!

  • Icon for: Barbara Berns

    Barbara Berns

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 10:05 a.m.

    Courtney's question is one of the same I had. Because I wasn't familiar with the earlier research, I am wondering if you could just add something about the student and school demographics, as well as how you recruited the mentor scientists. What kind of commitment do they have to make to participate?

     
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    Jodi Creasap Gee
  • Icon for: Catrina Adams

    Catrina Adams

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 12:57 p.m.

    We were fortunate to get teachers representing diverse schools, including public, private, urban, rural, suburban, and different free/reduced lunch status. We’ve run our population through an online tool called “the generalizer" https://www.thegeneralizer.org/ which produces an index of similarity between a study sample and an inference population. Our generalizability index was 95%, which is equivalent to having taken a national random sample. My co-presenters Anne Westbrook and Joe Taylor may be able to say more about this if you have more specific questions about the demographics of our participants.
     
    In terms of scientists, there are two different roles for scientists within our program.
    1) Volunteer scientist mentors who work with student teams of 3-5 students online. Typically each student team works with a different scientist mentor drawn from our gallery of over 600 volunteer scientists. Teachers can choose and invite scientists to work with their teams. We recruited mentor scientists through our partnering organizations…there are 18 scientific societies that contribute to the program by helping us to recruit scientists with an interest in outreach. Mentors get some online training and weekly newsletters including mentoring tips. Mentors are not compensated for their service. Some scientist mentors have been participating in PlantingScience for over 10 years, others are brand new to the program.
     
    2) Early career scientist mentor liaisons who serve as a bridge between the teacher and all of his or her scientist mentors. Typically these liaisons also serve as mentors for 1-2 of a teacher's teams. Liaisons help the teacher select and invite scientist mentors for each team, help keep track of the teams’ progress, and step in to support a team if their assigned mentor is not available. Several of our scientific society partners help us to recruit for and support liaisons by sponsoring them with a free membership to the society and other benefits. This is the population that participated in the Digging Deeper PD workshops alongside the teachers.
     
    For the Digging Deeper research study, early career scientist liaisons committed to attending the collaborative summer workshop  with teachers and to working with one or two teachers and their students online through the implementation of PlantingScience during the subsequent fall semester. We compensated the Digging Deeper teachers and early career scientists with stipends for their participation in the research project. We had a pretty thorough application for liaisons that included questions about why they were interested in participating and to describe the ways they anticipate contributing to and benefiting from a relationship with high school biology teachers. Answers to this question were particularly helpful in selecting scientists we felt would be a good fit, and later in matching liaisons and teachers. 
     
    It was a bit challenging scheduling a week-long workshop at a time that worked for everyone given other commitments over the summer. That was probably one of our biggest sources of attrition, teachers and liaisons not being able to make the workshop dates work for them. We are looking at ways to transfer the high-quality training and community-building that teachers and liaisons got from an in-person workshop to an online format that is easier to schedule and less expensive. 
     
    Hope this answers some of your questions about demographics and recruitment. If not, feel free to follow up with more questions.

     
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    Jodi Creasap Gee
  • Icon for: Barbara Berns

    Barbara Berns

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 03:08 p.m.

    Thanks, that was helpful.

  • Icon for: Miyoko Chu

    Miyoko Chu

    Senior Director of Communications
    May 14, 2018 | 09:34 p.m.

    Thanks for this inspiring video! I enjoyed seeing this type of collaboration in action because our project aspires to foster research co-created by an online community of adults interacting with scientists. Did your project provide mentors and students with supports for project design, such as how to choose a research question and design a study, and if so, what did you find worked well? We are now developing our project and interested in how best to communicate science inquiry concepts as part of online collaboration.

     
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    Jodi Creasap Gee
  • Icon for: Catrina Adams

    Catrina Adams

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 10:52 a.m.

    Thanks for stopping by, Miyoko! 
    We provide a guide we call “Roadmaps through an Investigation” for each role, students, teachers, and scientist that include tips at each stage. We also have a “project info” area on each project page that encourages students to fill in information as they move between stages. We’re currently working on redesigning this to encourage revision and to portray the stages as more interconnected, similar to but simplified from the flowchart from the understanding science website.
     
    Beyond providing resources, I think the best thing we do is to provide multiple opportunities for the students to pursue their investigations. The way our Power of Sunlight module (used in this study) is organized, students move from thought experiments, through 2 guided inquiry investigations with disappearing scaffolding (e.g. in the first guided investigation students are provided with a sample data table to use to track their findings, in the second investigation, students must come up with their own table). By the time the students get to the open inquiry investigation of their own choosing, they have had some experience with thinking about investigation design and have enough background knowledge on the topic of photosynthesis and respiration and ways it can be investigated to have some idea of a direction for their research question. 
     
    The scientist mentors help a lot with turning student interests into testable questions. They are especially good at trying to get students to consider the biological significance of their ideas…it’s not what you can DO to the plant with the available materials, it’s about what you can learn about plants through your experimental design. This helps with the inevitable group that wants to try to float their leaf disks in soda to see what happens…we actually an example of responding to a student team that would like to germinate seeds in soda to gather a writing sample in our application for scientist liaisons to see how they would approach guiding the students in a more productive direction.
     
    The other sticking point that we do see sometimes is when the scientist mentors are brought in too late…when the conversation is not given time to develop and the students are already set on a project idea that may not be viable. When the mentor makes comments, the students sometimes say that it is too late to change their idea, for example “we already have supplies and are starting tomorrow!". This is frustrating to the mentors and sometimes makes the data they get hard to interpret. We try to emphasize this point to teachers, but sometimes the realities of the classroom intervene and because of unforeseen scheduling issues the beginning of the projects can be truncated. 
     
    Although there are often timing concerns, we love it when teachers can allow students to do a second round of investigation on the same or similar research question. This really hammers home how knowledge is built from one project to the next, gives the students an opportunity to improve aspects of their research design that did not go as they anticipated, and lets the mentors get really involved in pushing the students thinking RE the relationship between preliminary data and research design. It is much more normal for scientists to perfect their investigation design over several iterations, so the scientists can model for students how disappointing results are normal and nothing to be discouraged about…they lead to improvements in research design and in some cases exciting unintended discoveries. 

  • Icon for: Kelly Riedinger

    Kelly Riedinger

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 09:35 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your video and I enjoyed learning more about the Planting Science program and the unique PD model. I am really interested in your research and hope you can share more. Are you collecting data primarily at the student-level? What are the outcomes for the teachers? Do you collect any data on how the mentors change or develop skills in engaging with students and public audiences as a result of participating? Thanks! 

     
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    Jodi Creasap Gee
  • Icon for: Catrina Adams

    Catrina Adams

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:09 p.m.

    Hi Kelly, thanks for your interest in the research! I'm reaching out to my co-PI Joe Taylor to share more details with you, but the short answer is that we've collected data from all participants: students, teachers, liaisons, and scientist mentors. We've just started our analysis and reporting with the student data. More soon.

  • Icon for: Catrina Adams

    Catrina Adams

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:13 p.m.

    We have collected data (pre- and post-test on content knowledge and attitudes about scientists) from students taught by cohort 2 teachers in Business-as-Usual way before participation in PlantingScience/Digging Deeper, from cohort 1 and 2 teachers who participated in PlantingScience and Digging Deeper, and from cohort 1 teachers in a second year of implementation. We collected data on participating teachers (pre-and-post on content knowledge and instructional practices). We also collected information via surveys and interviews from teachers, scientist liaisons, and scientist mentors who participated in the program. Finally, we have some classroom observation data as well as some data from coding selected student/scientist project conversations. So far we are only ready to report data comparing students from cohort 2 teachers in their first (Business as Usual) year with students from cohort 1 teachers in their first year of implementation of PlantingScience. As soon as our first student effects paper is ready for publication, we’re planning to work on a second paper describing the effects on teachers and how teacher gains interact with student gains. This paper may also include student data from the second year of implementation. 

     

    In terms of the liaisons who participated in the workshops, survey and interviews indicate that the majority reported gains from their experience related to their own teaching and science communication skills. Major areas of improvement mentioned include better understanding of effective science teaching skills,  a better understanding of what high school students and teachers experience in high school biology, an increased understanding of how to communicate with students, a better understanding of common misconceptions in biology, and ideas for improving their own science teaching. A quote from one of the interviews with a liaison about how this experience will help in teaching undergraduates: 

     

    "It definitely helps because I've taught introductory bio courses before quite a few times, and sometimes it’s amazing of either what they do understand or what they don't or what they have trouble with, and so working with some of the high school students or whatever grade they may be, it helps show you what the next wave of students may or may not know going into it. We’re at a university setting for long enough we kind of forget what it’s like to not be there and pretty much forget what it was like when we first were getting started with science or any topic in general." 

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 15, 2018 | 10:10 a.m.

    Very nice!

       I am curious about the negotiations between the scientists and the teachers — in our own work,we have found that this takes a lot of attention, patience, and sometimes ingenuity.  What were some of the issues that you found the scientists needed to learn, to better understand the classroom?  

  • Icon for: Catrina Adams

    Catrina Adams

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:05 p.m.

    I think we are really onto something in training up early-career scientists to act as liaisons between the teacher and the scientist mentor volunteers. The early-career scientists are at a formative stage in their careers and eager to improve their own teaching as well as give back to the K-12 community and the next generation of future scientists. We chose liaisons demonstrating a strong interest in education and outreach in their applications. A few had high school teaching experience themselves before pursuing graduate school in the sciences. When we selected liaisons, we also preferenced those with compelling rationale for their desire to work with high school teachers and who could explain both what they could gain from and contribute to such a partnership. So to a certain extent I think we were able to pick some great participants to start out with who are the kinds of people best suited to filling this bridging role.
     
    We explicitly addressed differences between the experiences of high school teachers and scientists during our workshop. We had a “day in the life” discussion over dinner one of the first nights that got everyone thinking about how experiences differ. One of the big realizations that came out of that for me is the difference in how time is scheduled in the different environments and the impact that can have on the online mentoring relationships. In a high school classroom, things happen (for the most part) sequentially. Things regularly happen that push one day’s scheduled activity into the next and if a blizzard intervenes or the school’s computer lab is booked for testing…into the next 2 weeks. So a teacher that planned to start experiments on October 1 will often end up starting in mid-October or even later. In contrast, most scientists work to the calendar. If they are planning to leave for the field or a scientific conference on October 30, that is when it will happen regardless of the fact that the scientists’ student teams who were scheduled to be finished are instead just starting and need feedback urgently. I don’t really think either the scientists or the teachers had considered the implications of different scheduling expectations had on keeping conversations going strong. In such cases, the liaison being ready to step in to provide feedback is important to keep the student projects moving, as is updating the scientist mentors as timelines change. Another insight for everyone was just how different high school classrooms can be. From scheduling differences to differences in available resources, pressures from school or district leadership, and differences in student populations, there was a lot of variability. Liaisons (and also the teachers) left with a better sense for the diversity of what high school experiences are like for teachers and students. 
     
    We put the teachers in small teams with the scientist liaisons they would ultimately work with through the fall from the start of the workshop. This gave them plenty of opportunities to get to know each other and for the liaisons to get to know the background of the students and the conditions of the particular schools they would be working with (equipment available, block scheduling or not, the teachers’ concerns about implementation, etc.). We also did our best to put teachers with similar courses and/or schools together in teams so that they could talk about the particular challenges of implementing the module in 9th grade general bio, or AP bio, or environmental science. We also paired liaisons with teachers according to their answer to the question “why would you like to participate in this program”…for example those who gave reasons related to “science for all” we tried to pair with 9th grade general bio teachers, and those more concerned with transitions to higher ed we more often placed with AP bio teachers. 
     
    We got a lot of feedback from both the teachers and scientists in our post-workshop survey and interviews that they appreciated working closely together over the course of their time together. For example: 
     

    The seating arrangements really encouraged productive exchanges of ideas between teachers and mentors throughout the entire process. Both sides were able to communicate their needs to the other party, and it was helpful to be able to establish a relationship. - Digging Deeper teacher

     

    Getting to know the teachers personally will really make the difference. The informal, not-prompted, conversations I had with teachers about how their classroom dynamics work and what their schedules are like helped me get a better sense of how to best communicate with the teachers. -Digging Deeper liaison

     
    We also have a guide available in our mentor resources for our scientist mentors who don’t have the benefit of interacting with teachers in person over the course of a week-long workshop. It tries to get a few best practices for communication and a basic understanding of the classroom context into their hands to help prevent misunderstandings. We're hoping this is supplemented by information provided by the teachers about their unique classroom context - on our website platform each teacher has a group page that contains the teacher, liaison and all scientist mentors working with that teacher’s students that is separate from the individual team project pages and is not viewable by the students. This is where the teacher and liaison can keep the scientist mentors appraised of schedule changes or what is going on in the classroom, and where the scientists can ask questions about the classroom context their team is working in.  
     

  • Icon for: Rebecca Smith

    Rebecca Smith

    Co-Director
    May 15, 2018 | 06:19 p.m.

    Hi Catrina-

    This is a very cool project! 

    We run a number of scientist-teacher-student partnership programs in San Francisco schools (teachers and early career scientists co-plan and co-teach a series of lessons in the teachers' classrooms over the course of a semester). I'm curious about what measures you used to gauge change in students' attitudes towards scientists. Can you share a reference or tools?

    Thanks, Rebecca

    ps It was fun to see Larry in this video as he has been in our partnerships as well. Warm greetings from SEP if you see him!

     

  • Icon for: Catrina Adams

    Catrina Adams

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 04:31 p.m.

    I've tapped my co-presenter Anne Westbrook on the shoulder to help answer this question. She'll get back to you soon.

    Larry is awesome! Love working with him and I will pass on a hello next time I see him!

  • Icon for: Anne Westbrook

    Anne Westbrook

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 09:00 p.m.

    Hi Rebecca,

    Your program sounds interesting--and probably very interesting for students, teachers, and scientists! One of the journal articles that we consulted as a starting point when we were developing items to assess students' attitudes toward scientists was 

    Glynn, S. M., Brickman, P., Armstrong, N., & Taasoobshirazi, G. (2011). Science Motivation Questionnaire II: Validation with science majors and nonscience majors. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48, 1159-1176.

     

    If you would like to see the items we used, please send me an email (awestbrook@bscs.org) and I can send you more info. 

    Anne

  • Icon for: Rebecca Smith

    Rebecca Smith

    Co-Director
    May 21, 2018 | 06:38 p.m.

    Thanks, Anne! I appreciate having the reference and will circle back about items. 

    Rebecca

  • Small default profile

    Jane Larson

    Researcher
    May 16, 2018 | 07:19 p.m.

    Having been involved in the germination of this project, I am delighted to see it growing and flourishing!  Congratulations on providing students, teachers and scientists with productive educational experiences.  

  • Icon for: Catrina Adams

    Catrina Adams

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 04:30 p.m.

    Thanks Jane! Great to hear from you. I appreciated all the insights you shared as we first put together the Digging Deeper proposal...it's come a long way and I'm very pleased with what we've been able to accomplish so far. Can't wait to share more results next year!!!

  • Icon for: Martha Merson

    Martha Merson

    Informal Educator
    May 19, 2018 | 09:48 p.m.

    Interesting to see what the Botanical Society is up to. Do you or would you or someone else in your organization consider working with recently released incarcerated men and women in some apprentice type of capacity? 

    Martha

  • Icon for: Catrina Adams

    Catrina Adams

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 12:00 p.m.

    Thanks Martha, loved your beautiful video! I remember an excellent plenary lecture given by Nalini Nadkarni at our annual conference a few years ago where I heard about some innovative things going on with the Sustainability in Prisons project.

    We don't currently have any opportunities for apprentices, but I'll keep the possibility in mind.

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