At the heart of the study is an online course for teachers of high school biology. In the course, participants explore the “big ideas” of the hard-to-teach topics of genetics and evolution through an exploration of online media resources and reflection on a range of teaching strategies. The course was created by WGBH Teachers’ Domain, an online library of free media resources from public television. The course is administered by PBS TeacherLine.
Study participants took a 5-week or an 8-week version of the course. Both versions include sessions focusing on teaching genetics and evolution using inquiry-based approaches and digital resources. The 5-week course, Teaching Genetics and Evolution, introduces participants to content and digital media resources related to teaching genetics and evolution. The 8-week course, Teaching High School Biology, includes additional sessions devoted to exploring inquiry teaching strategies, lesson design, and foundations for an engaged classroom environment. In the 8-week version, participants also complete a final project that asks them to conduct an experiment over the length of the course and reflect on a variety of science content and teaching methodology issues. Samples of digital resources from the course include videos, readings, and interactive activities on science content and classroom teaching:
The course is designed according to the “5 E’s” learning cycle (Bybee, Taylor, et al., 2006): engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate. The sessions model the kind of pedagogy that participants are encouraged to use with their own students. Course content is delivered via readings, videos, interactive digital activities, reflection questions, and assignments. In addition to individual work, participants in the course communicate with classmates and the course facilitator on a discussion board.
Click here for a course description (PDF).
To learn more about Teachers’ Domain Professional Development courses, visit their website.
To learn more about TeacherLine Professional Development Courses, visit their website.