Primary Connections: Stage 3: Interim research and evaluation report 10: University science educators' workshop: July 2007.
Australian Academy of Science
Place of Publication
Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
The 114 university science educators who participated in the February and July workshops were drawn from all 36 Australian universities that offer pre-service teacher education programmes. Seventy-four per cent of the participants were deans, professors, associate professors, senior lecturers, lecturers or course co-ordinators who are likely to be tenured staff with ongoing appointments in teacher education. The science educators believed that quality professional learning needs to be relevant to the teachers’ needs, purposeful and ongoing, based on sound pedagogy, delivered by a knowledgeable and credible facilitator in a stimulating and engaging manner. At the end of the workshop the science educators had high self-efficacy on six of nine aspects of facilitation; they had lower self-efficacy on aspects of facilitation requiring an understanding of early childhood and primary teaching, and literacy teaching. After the workshop 65% of the science educators had high self-efficacy scale scores (> 35/45) and none had a low (< 26/45) self-efficacy scale score. Science educators that had completed a two-day workshop in July had slightly lower levels of self-efficacy than the February cohort and the 2006 professional learning facilitators (PLFs) who had completed five days of facilitation training. The science educators had high levels of confidence (scores > 4/5) with facilitating workshops related to six of seven aspects of Primary Connections. Confidence levels were a little lower, but of a similar magnitude to those of the February cohort of science educators and the 2006 cohort of PLFs who had completed five days of facilitation training. When asked about the extent to which the workshop outcomes had been achieved, no less than 70% of participants rated six of seven outcomes in the two highest of five response categories. Most positive responses were for understanding the theoretical underpinnings of the programme and the research findings, understanding the teaching and learning and professional learning models, and awareness of opportunities to use PC to exemplify aspects of pre-service science education. Eighty-four per cent of the science educators reported that they were very well or well prepared for facilitating Primary Connections workshops with pre-service teachers, and 73% indicated they were very well or well prepared for facilitating workshops with in-service teachers. The science educators found the opportunity for networking, the three workshop sessions and opportunities to learn about Primary Connections and its approach to science and literacy teaching the most helpful. The science educators suggested that the workshop could be improved by reducing the amount of lecturing, especially on the first day, and avoiding it sounding like a sales pitch. The most common support needs related to having time to become more familiar with Primary Connections, having regular updates on resources, and having ongoing contact with the Academy support team. Ninety-four per cent of the science educators rated the professional learning resources as excellent or good, and a majority could not identify any need for change. Suggestions for change included a greater focus on developing understanding of science content, more on assessment and resources to link implementation to states and sectors. When asked if there is a need to develop any additional resources for pre-service teacher education a majority said ‘no’. Suggestions for additional resources included a DVD for pre-service teachers showing PC being taught using good pedagogy, resources that show links to other learning areas, and making the resources for each module available on a CD. When given the opportunity to provide any other comments, responses where overwhelmingly positive with praise for the workshop, presenters, networking, accommodation and meals.