Essential Characteristics for a Professional Development Program for Promoting the Implementation of a Multidisciplinary Science Module

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Published: 
Oct. 09, 2010
Source: Journal of Science Teacher Education, Volume 21, No. 6, 623-642 (October, 2010). 
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study was to theoretically and empirically identify essential characteristics for a professional development program that promotes the acquisition of teachers’ competences involved in the implementation of an ASMaT module.

Research Questions
The general research question was “Which characteristics are essential for a professional development program to promote the implementation of an ASMaT module?”

Three specific sub-questions were distinguished:
(a) Which characteristics are important during the selection of an ASMaT module according to the “evidence-based” approach?
(b) Which of these characteristics from the first sub-question belong to what kind of professionality?
(c) Which characteristics from the second sub-question stimulate the implementation of an ASMaT module according to teachers and according to the curriculum implementation literature?

The ASMaT Subject
 
ASMaT is a new optional science subject that was introduced in upper secondary education in the Netherlands in August 2007.
The ASMaT curriculum is based on contexts and has a modular structure.
A teaching module consists of a situated practice in which specific concepts traditionally belonging to physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and physical geography are explored.
The advantage of the modular structure is that it gives teachers the opportunity to select modules according to their interests and expertise and to their students’ interests and prior knowledge.

Participants
Eight teachers at eight different officially registered implementation schools in the eastern part of the Netherlands participated in this study. All participating teachers were heads of their ASMaT departments and active ASMaT teachers.
Three were chemistry teachers, two biology teachers, two physics teachers, and one mathematics teacher.
Six of the participants were male and two female.
All had more than 6 years’ teaching experience.

Procedure
The first author of this article conducted a semi-structured interview with each of the eight participants who had started teaching ASMaT from the beginning of the school year 2007–2008.

A 3-step approach was used to identify the essential characteristics.
The first step was evidence produced in the classroom settings of the schools.
Teachers were interviewed about the procedure followed and the decisions made to implement a module in their school, and the adaptations made to tailor the module to their particular classroom setting.
As a second step, specific curriculum features of the ASMaT subject were taken into account.
The third step consisted of evidence generated by curriculum implementation literature pertaining to effective characteristics of implementing an innovation.

Conclusion

The findings show that five characteristics were identified as essential characteristics that should be incorporated into a professional development program to promote the implementation of an ASMaT module:
• Teachers should develop their knowledge.
• Teachers should cooperate with colleagues.
• Teachers should network.
• The module should be made relevant and attractive for students.
• Teachers should be well prepared and organized for their lessons.
Updated: May. 10, 2011
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