The Blended Brain: Multi-Institutional Teacher Professional Development Among Three Informal Science Institutions

Robert Steiner, American Museum of Natural History, USA, Paul Doherty, Exploratorium, USA, Robert Payo, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, USA, David Randle, American Museum of Natural History, USA, Laura Stokes, Inverness Research, USA

Published paper: A multi-institutional model of blended teacher professional development

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), in collaboration with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Exploratorium in San Francisco, has led the development of an innovative model of teacher professional development. In its initial incarnation, the project has allowed secondary school teachers in three different metropolitan regions across the country to deepen their understanding—online, at AMNH, and in the partnering informal science institutions—of the brain science that is at or near the top of scientific research agendas for the twenty-first century. This has been achieved through the creation of a novel online graduate course focusing on the workings of the brain, as well as its evolution in humans and other species. That online course, suitably modified, has served as the touchstone for a course conducted across the San Francisco, Denver, and New York regions that blends both online and in-person elements. The described effort has leveraged AMNH’s longstanding commitment to online professional development, a traveling exhibition on the human brain, and a strong track record of robust partnerships. The two-year project has engaged secondary teachers and supported the improvement of classroom practice. During this period, approximately one hundred and fifty teachers have participated in blended learning across the three project sites, with an additional two hundred teachers participating in the purely online course.

The project design, development, and implementation, as well as its independent evaluation by Inverness Research Associates, will be described more fully in the submitted paper and presentation.

This project has been conducted with the generous support of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

Inverness Research Associates (2002). “The AMNH Seminars On Science Project: Lessons Learned from Phase I 1992-2002.”

Inverness Research Associates (2007). “Results from the Independent Evaluation of the Seminars on Science.”

Picciano, A., & Steiner, R. (2008). Bridging the real world of science to children: a partnership of the American Museum of Natural History and the City University of New York. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 12(1), 69-84.

NGSS Lead States (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: For states, by states. (2013). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Quinn, H., Keller, T., & Schweingruber, H. (eds) (2012)

A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. (2012).

Randle, D. (2013). An analysis of interactions and outcomes associated with an online professional development course for science teachers (Doctoral dissertation). Teacher College, Columbia University, New York, NY.

Stokes, L., M. St. John, J. Hirabayashi & A. Smith. (2007). Results from the independent evaluation of the Seminars on Science. Inverness, CA: Inverness Research Associates.