Graduate student professional development through intensive K-12 teaching partnerships.
Trautmann, Nancy*,1, Krasny, Marianne *,1, 1 Department of Natural Resources, Ithaca, NY, US
ABSTRACT- NSF's Graduate Teaching in K-12 Education (GK-12) program challenges universities to incorporate educational outreach into graduate student professional development in the sciences. To address concerns about sidetracking graduate students from research, we evaluated the impact of yearlong, 15-hour/week teaching partnerships on 44 graduate students who have received GK-12 fellowships over the past five years through the Cornell Science Inquiry Partnerships (CSIP). Enhancement of teaching skills was the top impact cited by CSIP fellows and their faculty advisors; 89% of advisors credited the fellowship with enhancing their advisees' teaching skills, and 70% rated it more valuable than a typical TA position. CSIP fellows have more autonomy than most TAs in deciding what they will teach, and they develop curriculum resources designed to engage students in research and other forms of student-active learning. Fellows gain teaching skills through working with a diverse range of students and through mentoring they receive from classroom teachers and from the program coordinator, who is a former high school science teacher. A potential long-term impact of CSIP and similar programs on university culture is the dedication to teaching and outreach that fellows will take with them into their careers. Future faculty will face new challenges, including a shift in emphasis from direct instruction to student-active learning in order to meet the needs of students with increasingly diverse backgrounds, motivations, and expectations. If CSIP fellows become faculty, they will be well prepared to meet the growing pressure on universities to provide effective K-12 outreach and to mentor the increasing number of graduate students who are interested in broadening beyond research to also develop teaching and outreach skills.
Key words: scientific teaching, student-active learning, teacher/scientist partnerships, outreach
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