89th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting

Monday, 12 January 2009
Teaching science teachers about Masters of Disaster
Hall 5 (Phoenix Convention Center)
Alan E. Stewart, University of Georgia, Athens, GA ; and S. Oliver, J. Knox, P. Schneider, and D. Walters
In this presentation we describe a week-long workshop for elementary and middle school science teachers from schools in northeastern Georgia with the purpose of teaching science teachers about the American Red Cross Masters of Disaster (MoD) curriculum. The MoD curriculum is designed to teach children in the K-8 grades about both the science and safety associated with natural hazards (such as lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods). The purpose of the workshop was to educate science teachers about teaching the MoD curriculum, as well as to encourage the teachers to serve as ambassadors by training additional teachers at their own schools so as to diffuse the curriculum more broadly.

There were 14 participants (12 women, 2 men) for the duration of the workshop. The workshop included the teaching of new information in the areas of science, weather, and weather safety, as well as examining the pedagogical issues associated with each of these subjects. Additionally, some lessons and activities of the MoD curriculum were showcased as an example of how they might be implemented in the classroom. Towards the end of the workshop week, participants were required to develop a lesson plan based upon the curriculum and to conduct a classroom demonstration related to their lesson.

The efficacy of the workshop was evaluated through pre- and post-workshop tests, which included questionnaires regarding attitudes and beliefs about the teaching of the curriculum and a test of existing knowledge of weather and related safety. The pre- and post-workshop assessments included two Likert scale measurements: the Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument (STEBI) and Weather Safety Teaching Efficacy Inventory (WSTEI). The science and safety pre- and post-test of knowledge each consisted of 22 items with both versions consisting of unique questions of comparable difficulty. At posttest, the participants indicated a greater degree of agreement that students could respond safely (M = 1.29) compared to the beginning of the workshop (M = 1.71, t (13) = 3.12, p = .004). Regarding participants' beliefs about their abilities to use the Masters of Disaster curriculum to teach their students how to respond safely when lightening, tornadoes, hurricanes, or floods occurred, participants showed an overall increase from pretest (M = 6.0) to posttest (M = 5.14, t(13) = -1.88, p = .041). Results of the Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument (STEBI) indicated that the strength of participants' beliefs increased from the beginning of the workshop (M = 49.8) to the completion, M = 53.0, t(12) = -1.78, p = .05. At the beginning of the workshop, participants completed and Science and Safety test to assess existing knowledge about weather and weather safety. A comparable test was administered following the workshop, which indicated a significant increase in knowledge of the subject material (M = 15.57) when compared to the test scores at the beginning of the workshop, Mean = 7.57, t (13) = -12.9, p < 0001.

Following the workshop, participants completed a Workshop Instruction and Training Environment Evaluation. Overall, most participants found that developing and presenting an implementation plan for disseminating the MoD curriculum at their schools of origin was helpful (85.7% of participants agreed or strongly agreed) as well as developing and delivering a lesson plan to the group (85.7% agreed or strongly agreed). The majority of the group of participants believed that the implementation and lesson plan activities that we conducted in the workshop will make it more likely that they will use the MoD curriculum in their classrooms (85.7%). Participants also agreed that the MoD curriculum meets the Georgia Performance Standards for Science (71.4%). As a result of attending the workshop, most participants indicated that they are more likely to use the MoD curriculum (78.6%) and are more likely to recommend that their colleagues use the MoD curriculum in their classrooms (92.8%). Most participants also indicated that they would recommend attending the Masters of Disaster Workshop to their colleagues (92.8%).

Recommendations for further training of K-8 teachers in the MoD curriculum will be discussed.

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