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Designing and evaluating a scientific training program and virtual educational materials
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   The International Journal of  Design Education DESIGNPRINCIPLESANDPRACTICES.COM  VOLUME 7  ISSUE 2    __________________________________________________________________________  Designing and Evaluating a Scientific Training Program and Virtual Learning Materials LISA VAN RAALTE AND RACHEL BOULAY   THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF DESIGN EDUCATION www.designprinciplesandpractices.com First published in 2013 in Champaign, Illinois, USA  by Common Ground Publishing University of Illinois Research Park 2001 South First St, Suite 202 Champaign, IL 61820 USA www.CommonGroundPublishing.com ISSN: 2325-128X © 2013 (individual papers), the author(s) © 2013 (selection and editorial matter) Common Ground All rights reserved. Apart from fair dealing for the purposes of study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the applicable copyright legislation, no part of this work may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the  publisher. For permissions and other inquiries, please contact <cg-support@commongroundpublishing.com>. The International Journal of Design Education  is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal.  Designing and Evaluating a Scientific Training Program and Virtual Learning Materials Lisa van Raalte, Arizona State University, USA Rachel Boulay, University of Hawaii, USA  Abstract: The University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine developed a professional development program and virtual learning materials to assist high school science teachers become familiar with laboratory techniques prior to engaging in authentic molecular biology research. The purpose of this paper is to provide an evaluative overview of the  program with emphasis on the virtual materials that were designed to employ a blended learning approach to augment offline classroom learning. The virtual learning materials provide a unique sphere for scientific learning in which skills can be reproduced in an offline environment. Twelve high school science teachers participated in the training program and were given full access to the online materials. After participation in the program, teachers filled out a final survey and completed a final written reflective statement as a form of evaluating the program and online materials. Thematic analysis was used to code participants’ responses. Results showed that teachers recounted meeting the scientists as a valuable experience, teachers were grateful to learn real-world application of current research, and teachers described the importance of learning skills to prepare students to succeed in higher education. Additionally, results showed teacher’s intent to use the virtual learning materials as homework tools and in classroom lessons. Keywords: Blended Learning, Professional Development, Science Teacher Training Introduction “If students see the passion and excitement from their teacher, the hope is that they too  become excited.” –Participant 4, final written reflective statement. ne route to instilling student commitment to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) pipeline is by renewing teacher’s excitement and vigor for the material. Especially in Hawaii, high school science teachers have scant access to professional laboratories to update their skills and knowledge in science. If teachers are not up-to-date with current scientific research and lab techniques, subsequently, students will also lack the necessary current skills and material comprehension to become competitive in the science field. To address this, the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa developed a  professional development program for high school science teachers to update their laboratory skills and understanding of current molecular biology research. In addition to the teacher-training  program, virtual learning materials were created to facilitate offline learning. A core goal of the training program was to provide teachers with a familiarity for laboratory  protocols and skills prior to conducting research and consequently assist their students in these skills (Boulay, Parisky and Leong 2012). The virtual learning materials were developed to  provide participants in the training program access to protocols and professionally packaged molecular biology material to increase comprehension critical to effectively participate in a  professional research laboratory (Boulay, Parisky and Leong). O The International Journal of Design Education Volume 7, 2013, designinsociety.com, ISSN: 2325-128X © Common Ground, Lisa van Raalte, Rachel Boulay, All Rights Reserved Permissions: cg-support@commongroundpublishing.com  THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF DESIGN EDUCATION Literature Review As technology develops, so do scientific research protocols and techniques. Alongside science developments, it is necessary for all science professionals to keep current with evolving techniques and skills. To best prepare students for success in a scientific field, teachers first need to be able to understand current scientific techniques and research. A popular method of learning that is being incorporated in many classrooms is the blended learning approach. Blended learning combines traditional in-class learning strategies with online learning (Hoic-Bozic, Mornar and Boticki 2009). This type of education creates an environment where learning may transcend time and distance, learners can study at their own rate, and learning materials can be tailored to an audience's needs. Blended learning is crucial to science learning as access to labs and costly science equipment can be limited. Previous research has investigated the success of virtual learning materials on student lab learning. For example, Climent-Bellido et al. (2003) found that introducing a simulation program to a group of individuals prior to engaging in laboratory experiments increased comprehension of scientific techniques and basic concepts as opposed to those who did not have access to the computer simulations. Various other studies have also found blended learning to help learners (Collis, & Bruijstens, Kees der van Veen, 2003; Garrison & Kanuka 2004; Smelser, 2002). Particularly useful for teachers and students in Hawaii where access to labs and science equipment is scarce, blended learning can prepare learners prior to their hands-on lab work. In addition to online learning, having hands-on experience with advanced technology and equipment will undoubtedly instill teachers with a strong understanding of current research and techniques. Learning style theorists posits different learning styles are effective for different learners (Keefe 1987). Important for educators who teach students how to perform science experiments, teachers first need to learn how to use science equipment themselves. Engaging in hands-on lab work is likely to instill teachers with confidence to include newly learned practices into their own classroom. Moreover, by providing a change in teachers’ repetitive routines, teachers’ can renew their vigor for the material by participating in science experiments. By renewing teacher’s excitement, students too will benefit. The theory of emotional contagion predicts that people automatically synchronize and mimic others behaviors and as a result converge emotionally from the activation and/or feedback from such mimicry (Hatfield, Cacioppo and Rapson 1992). Observing teacher excitement in a classroom may influence student's commitment and enthusiasm for the subject. A study by Mottet and Beebe (2000) found emotional contagion to be very prevalent between teachers and students. This study found that instructor pleasure (broadly defined as how well one is doing) and student pleasure were  positively and significantly correlated such that the more pleasure instructors reported feeling during class the more pleasure students reported feeling during class (Mottet and Beebe 2000). Understanding how teachers influence students will aid future instructors by helping them in multiple facets. Teachers will be able to shape social interactions, teachers will learn how to engender positive emotions to the classroom, and teachers will learn how to avoid “catching” negative emotions from student which may influence teaching styles and classroom rapport (Mottet and Beebe 2000). Teacher burnout has also been researched to be contagious between teachers (Bakker and Schaufeli 2000), which can influence teacher behavior in a classroom setting. Indeed, research has found that teachers’ emotions influence students and classroom dynamics. A study by Bakker (2005) found that teacher flow, defined as “a short-term peak experience that is characterized by absorption, work enjoyment, and intrinsic work motivation” (p. 37), was positively related to student flow such that the higher feeling of flow for teachers, the more flow students experienced. As teachers’ emotions can influence student learning and behavior, it is important to investigate how participating in professional development programs influences teachers’ 2  VAN RAALTE & BOULAY: DESIGNING & EVALUATING SCIENTIFIC PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT emotions. Therefore, the current study investigates the type of positive emotions teachers experienced while participating in the teacher-training program. Equally important to teacher emotions, the effectiveness of virtual learning materials can provide insight to the increasingly  popular blended learning approach. Thus, this study also explores teacher's evaluative reports of the virtual learning materials developed alongside the program. Method  Program Development The professional development program is a long-term initiative with the first program being held in 2010 (see Boulay, Parisky and Fulford 2010). The focus of this paper is the data collected from the 2011 professional development program. The 2011 program consisted of a two-week  program split up into 10 laboratory-training days. Teachers’ engaged in hands-on lab-work every day of the program and attended lectures by scientists. Several molecular biology techniques were performed and practiced by teachers. For example, teachers practiced centrifugation, DNA electrophoresis, DNA/plasmid purification, DNA ligation, restriction enzyme digestion, western  blotting, polymerase chain reaction, using a spectrophotometer, immunostaining, cell culture, tissue sectioning, microscopy, and pipetting. The online materials were developed alongside the program to supplement offline learning. The Center for Cardiovascular Research (CCR) within The John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) collaborated with the Distance Course Design and Consulting (DCDC) in efforts to develop a virtual learning initiative (Boulay, in press; Boulay et al. 2009). The online materials included unlimited access to four core modules, each consisting of multiple sub-topics. The four core modules were: introduction to molecular biology, nucleic acid techniques, protein techniques, and cell culture techniques. Each sub-topic within a core module contained objectives, specific content materials, animations, and activities to help facilitate learning. With the goal of initiating a blended learning approach, professional developers set out to create a website that incorporated a blend of content, video segments, two-dimensional and three-dimensional guided animations, laboratory protocols, interactive tutorials and problem sets, and virtual laboratory investigations. Introductory videos were created to begin each sub-topic and explain techniques in specific content areas. The video segments in particular provided teachers with specific preparation in using the research equipment at JABSOM. For example, videos  provided step-by-step instruction on Centrifugation, Western Blotting, and Tissue Sectioning. Multiple professionals reviewed the website and the scientific content on the website srcinated from a well-developed in-person training and well-known and highly regarded online resources such as those of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (see Boulay, in press and Boulay et al., 2009 for an in-depth description of the development for the online materials). Teachers were given access to the website prior to engaging in the program to provide teachers time to review techniques and protocols before entering the lab.  Participants In 2011, participants were selected from a pool of biology teachers at the secondary level from the State of Hawaii, including the islands of Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island. A total of  N  =12 high school science teachers were invited and participated in the professional development  program in June of 2011. The participants ranged from 0-15 years of experience teaching high school biology (M = 6.3, SD = 5.3). In addition to teaching General Biology, the participants reported teaching other various biology classes, for example, Honors, Anatomy/Physiology, and College Prep. Often a taught the highest level of science offered at his or her school and took on extra roles within the school. A few examples of the additional roles teachers were responsible 3
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