Increase teachers’ science content knowledge
Increase teacher’s pedagogical understanding for facilitating inquiry -based instruction
Increase students’ achievement in science content and their use of inquiry science practices
The University of South Carolina’s College of Education and College of Arts & Sciences have worked together since 2003 to create a unique Professional Development program for Middle School Science Teachers. Education and science faculty within the Department of Instruction & Teacher Education and the Center for Science Education created a professional development program aimed at enhancing middle school teachers’ content knowledge and inquiry-based teaching skills. A team of University faculty along with teacher/pedagogy experts in South Carolina middle schools has worked together to create content knowledge classes that enhance standards-based science instruction in South Carolina classrooms. The program allows teachers to experience high quality inquiry-based curriculum, deep content instruction, peer teaching and reflection all in a collaborative learning environment.
Although the program title has changed through various grant-funding sources, the professional development program has continued to grow in popularity with South Carolina teachers. From 2003 – 2007, the program was known as the Summer Institute offering 6th, 7th, and 8th grade science teachers various content units tailored to their state content standards. The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (CHE) funded the first two years of the grant followed by the SC Eisenhower program (2004). From 2005 – 2009, Dr. Jonathan Singer received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to offer the program to additional teachers and study the program’s effectiveness for improving teachers’ use of inquiry and their content knowledge.
From 2008 – 2012, the Summer Institute became known as the T.I.P.S. Summer Institute program promoting Technology, Inquiry, Pedagogy, and Standards. A three year Math and Science Partnership Grant (MSP) grant (2008-2010) was awarded from the SC State Department of Education to Dr. Christine Lotter to study the collaboration of state instructional coaches with middle level mathematics and science teachers (Coach-Teacher Teams) going through the professional development program. In 2011, the program returned to a focus solely on science education through another SC MSP grant (2011-2013) called SIMPLE.
In Fall 2013, Dr. Stephen Thompson received a new grant, STEP (Science Teaching Enhancement Project) into Science Teaching, which accepted 50 new science teachers to the professional development program through a SC MSP grant that continues our teams efforts with an emphasis on preparing middle school teachers to understand and teach the new science practices and science academic standards in South Carolina. Although the name and funding has changed throughout the years, the program mission has remained the same: