Over the past year, ____ University has conducted a National Science Foundation sponsored “Research Experiences for Teachers” grant focused on Precision Agriculture and Sustainability. For six weeks in the summer, accompanied by several professional learning workshops throughout the school year, rural middle and high school mathematics and science teachers are immersed in a research program through the College of Engineering at _____ University. The main goal of the program is for teachers to develop an in-depth understanding of research principles, engineering applications, and the engineering design process as a means to deliver practical application of this knowledge through standards-based instruction to better deliver course content in the classroom. The intent is to create a pedagogical shift in how the teacher approaches lesson plan design creating more meaningful, engaging, and authentic learning experiences for their students. A unique aspect of this program is the focus on rural teachers. In the upper Midwest, the majority of the school systems are characterized as rural. To create the largest possible impact in a rural educational community, this program selected participants who were the only math or science teacher in their school building. In addition, each in-service teacher was paired with a pre-service teacher at _____ University majoring in mathematics education or science education. This provides a valuable experience for both the in-service and pre-service teachers, as they can engage in the research process collaboratively, strengthening their knowledge and understanding of the learning outcomes. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are incorporated into the research design to better understand the impact of the program on the teachers’ understanding of engineering design and any shifts in classroom practices. Having completed the first summer of the program, the researchers have preliminary data to determine the effectiveness of the program as well as teacher-reported outcomes. Initial results show the program provided a valuable experience for the teachers’ and provided the proper knowledge and skills to improve their lesson plan design process. Evidence also suggests there was a positive impact to the pre-service teachers in regards to how they approach lesson planning and student teaching. This paper will provide more detail as to the program description, intended goals and outcomes, preliminary data and results, conclusions, and the next steps for program improvement.
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