9.2 Improving Pedagogical Abilities and Raising Environmental Literacy: Results from a Thorough Examination of DataStreme Atmosphere

Wednesday, 25 January 2017: 1:45 PM
308 (Washington State Convention Center )
Robert S. Weinbeck, AMS, Washington, DC; and W. Abshire, I. W. Geer, E. W. Mills, K. A. Nugnes, and A. E. Stimach

DataStreme Atmosphere is an online professional development course offered to in-service, K-12 teachers each fall and spring semester by Local Implementation Teams (LITs) across the country in coordination with AMS Education Program scientists and educators. Participants may receive 3 tuition-free graduate credits through State University of New York’s The College at Brockport upon completion of each course and construction of a Plan of Action for peer-training. This course is supported by a cooperative agreement with NOAA.

In fall 2015, 19 DataStreme Atmosphere LITs trained 117 K-12 teachers with coverage in 27 states. Thorough evaluation was conducted on this offering. Specifically, participants were evaluated on content and pedagogy through pre and post tests and for the first time, AMS ran t-tests on these items to analyze significance. In addition, LIT members completed a post-course survey. Also for the first time, the Plans of Action for educational peer-training activities were analyzed and responses categorized.

According to post-course survey data, the participating teachers had impacted about 590 teachers and 6340 students. Based on a survey-derived model, the fall 2015 DataStreme participants are expected to impact 1170 teachers and 40,950 within two years of taking the course. This highlights the tremendous impact of the peer training component of DataStreme.

Post-course survey data also revealed a statistically significant improvement in content knowledge. A two tailed match pair t-test was employed to compare pre- and post-course content knowledge scores. The resulting p-value allowed AMS to reject the null that there is no difference between the pre and post datasets at the 1% level. Scores increased from a mean of 8.64 on the pre-test to a mean of 11.31 on the post-test for an increase of approximately 2.7 points on the 20 point content test. The standard deviation increased slightly (about 3.4 on the pre-test to 4.0 on the post-test).

In comparison of pre to post-course results, pedagogy items also revealed significant change. For all six pedagogical items, there was a significant pre to post increase at the p < 0.05 level. On the pre-survey, approximately 6% of participants rated their pedagogical abilities in the Superior or Exemplary levels (two highest rankings) while this number jumped to 40% on the post-survey. Confidence items also showed a significant increase though a “ceiling effect,” where high pre-ratings limit the possible increase in post-ratings, became evident. Two motivation/aspiration items also significantly improved – “I intend to incorporate weather content into my instruction during the coming year” and “I will find ways to relate meteorological science to my content area.” The other items in this section did not show a significant improvement, likely again, because of the “ceiling effect.”

The analyzed Plans of Action further revealed participants’ enhanced content knowledge and their eagerness to share this with their students. More than 23% of participants “hoped to influence their students’ attitudes toward science by making it real/showing the relevance to the real world.” Related, participants noted that they can assist their students with career information by “providing more in depth information and discussion” (27.6% of respondents) and by “presenting weather/meteorology career opportunities” (20.4% of respondents).

Results from the LIT member post-course survey supported the aforementioned findings. For example, 93.75% of LIT members answered “much” (the highest ranking) to the extent the course increased their participants’ understanding of Earth system processes. More than 67% of LIT members answered “much” to the extent to which the course increased their participants’ skill for educational peer training within their schools and communities.

DataStreme Atmosphere is an extremely beneficial professional development course for K-12 teachers and AMS looks forward to continue working with LIT Leaders to raise the environmental literacy of teachers throughout the country. As a LIT Leader commented in response to an open-ended question about DataStreme, “We do this because we think it is worthwhile.”

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