• Preparing Culturally Responsive Teachers Of Science, Technology, Engineering, And Math Using The Geophysical Institute Framework For Professional Development In Alaska

      Berry Bertram, Kathryn; Barnhardt, Raymond; McMillan, Claude III; Kramm, Gerhard; Smith, Roger (2011)
      The Geophysical Institute (GI) Framework for Professional Development was designed to prepare culturally responsive teachers of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Professional development programs based on the framework are created for rural Alaskan teachers who instruct diverse classrooms that include indigenous students. This dissertation was written in response to the question, "Under what circumstances is the GI Framework for Professional Development effective in preparing culturally responsive teachers of science, technology, engineering, and math?" Research was conducted on two professional development programs based on the GI Framework: the Arctic Climate Modeling Program (ACMP) and the Science Teacher Education Program (STEP). Both programs were created by backward design to student learning goals aligned with Alaska standards and rooted in principles of indigenous ideology. Both were created with input from Alaska Native cultural knowledge bearers, Arctic scientists, education researchers, school administrators, and master teachers with extensive instructional experience. Both provide integrated instruction reflective of authentic Arctic research practices, and training in diverse methods shown to increase indigenous student STEM engagement. While based on the same framework, these programs were chosen for research because they offer distinctly different training venues for K-12 teachers. STEP offered two-week summer institutes on the UAF campus for more than 175 teachers from 33 Alaska school districts. By contrast, ACMP served 165 teachers from one rural Alaska school district along the Bering Strait. Due to challenges in making professional development opportunities accessible to all teachers in this geographically isolated district, ACMP offered a year-round mix of in-person, long-distance, online, and local training. Discussion centers on a comparison of the strategies used by each program to address GI Framework cornerstones, on methodologies used to conduct program research, and on findings obtained. Research indicates that in both situations the GI Framework for Professional Development was effective in preparing culturally responsive STEM teachers. Implications of these findings and recommendations for future research are discussed in the conclusion.
    • Science Education In Rural America: Adaptations For The Ivory Tower

      Van Doren, Gregory S.; Duffy, Lawrence K. (2010)
      This thesis illustrated what can happen when academic culture disconnects from the cultures surrounding it. It showed that formal school environments are not always the best places to learn. A discussion of the debate between coherence and fragmentation learning theories illustrated academic chasms and a mindset that science education must originate from within ivory towers to be valued. Rationales for place-based science education were developed. Two National Science Foundation initiatives were compared and contrasted for relevance to Native Science education (a) Informal Science Education and (b) Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities. A National Science Foundation instrument, known as the Self-Assessment of Learning Gains, was selected to field-test measures of learning science outside of university science courses. Principles of chemistry were taught in community workshops, and those participant self-assessments were compared to self-assessments of students in introductory chemistry courses at two universities. University students consistently claimed the greatest learning gains, in the post-course survey, for the same areas that they claimed to have the greatest understanding, in the pre-course survey. The workshop participant responses differed, depending upon location of the learning environment. When held in a university laboratory, ideas were not related to other cultures, even when a Native Elder was present to describe those relationships. When held in a cultural center, those relationships were among the highest learning gains claimed. One of the instrument's greatest assets was the ability to measure reactions, level 4 of Bennett's (1976) hierarchy of evidence for program evaluation. A long-term commitment to informal science education (not short-term exhibits or programs), combined with negotiated place-based education was recommended as a crucially needed initiative, if relationships between universities and Native American communities are to improve. Some chasms created within ivory towers may never be bridged. Yet, those ideological chasms do not have to exist everywhere. The realities of working in the natural world and the practice of addressing multitudes of community challenges can alter perspectives, when horizons change from the edge of one's desk to those that meet the sea or sky.