DHE Grants SHU $115,000 for Summer Teachers’ Program

News Story: May 1, 2009
The Connecticut Department of Higher Education has granted Sacred Heart University $115,000 for a summer institute entitled “Combining Inquiry and Applied Physics in Elementary Science Education.” The intensive program ran for two weeks during July 2009, and drew at least 32 teachers from Bridgeport, Fairfield, Monroe, Norwalk, Trumbull, and Waterbury, in addition to teachers from area parochial schools. The teachers, many of whom participated in a similar SHU program last summer specializing in environmental science, received three graduate credits and a stipend for participating.

According to Assistant Professor of Education Paul W. Massey, of the University’s Isabelle Farrington School of Education, the summer institute is designed to strengthen teaching skills in the physical sciences using “inquiry-based approaches, performance-based assessment, and technology.” It is the second part of a three-year cycle that will conclude next summer with earth science.

Massey said that while the participants last year ranged in experience from one year to more than 25, most have had very little formal training in science. “A survey found that the average was close to three credits during their entire undergraduate experience even though each one teaches science regularly. This cohort will actively participate in learning and assessment, and their assignments will include creating self-propelled carts and then measuring their velocity and the distance traveled. They will also conduct experiments using magnetism and electricity, created and then evaluated each other’s portfolios, and worked on lesson plans for their own classes.”

“Alumni of the program will return in the fall to address classes of future teachers at Sacred Heart and share their experiences. They will be trained to act as coaches to fellow teachers in their districts. In addition, an adjunct member of the Sacred Heart team will visit participants in their classrooms and evaluate how they are using the lessons learned. Assessments from last year’s group indicated a very high level of satisfaction with the program.” he concluded.

This year’s Teacher Quality Partnership Grants went to eight Connecticut institutions: five in the sciences, two in math, and one in the arts. The state’s Commissioner of Higher Education, Michael Meotti, summed up their value this way: “Each of these institutes is designed to offer teachers powerful professional development that’s based on the realities of today’s classrooms. Teachers will have an opportunity to learn from faculty experts and from each other as they create and model new classroom lesson plans and strategies. These institutes provide teachers with intensive training as well as support that will help improve student learning.”