The overall purpose of this multifocused study was to explore how participation in genuine mentored scientific research experiences impacts in-service science teachers and the knowledge and skills needed for their own science teaching. The research experiences resulted from a partnership between the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Omaha Public School District. This Teacher- Researcher Partnership Program facilitated opportunities in inquiry, science content, interaction with laboratory instrumentation and technologies, critical discussion of literature, and dissemination of findings for participating in-service science teacher professional development utilizing an inquiry-based theoretical framework wherein we examined science teacher preparation via inquiry-based methods in the research laboratory. A mixed-methods approach with a convergent typology (i.e., qualitative and quantitative analyses conducted separately and integrated) was used to investigate the impact of the program on teachers. Our research question was as follows: How do teachers define and approach scientific research before and after a genuine research experience? We observed 3 emergent nodes or themes by which teachers indicated significant gains: science content knowledge, confidence, and perception. Moreover, we determined that participation by science teachers in a mentored research experience using current scientific technologies and tools improved teacher confidence in science and inquiry as well as an ongoing commitment to provide similar types of experiences to their students. These data support the need for the participation of in-service science teachers in genuine research experiences to boost technological and pedagogical content knowledge, confidence in process and content, and the perception of translatability to the classroom.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/christine-cutucache/12/