A part of the SERC Teacher Professional Development Program Collection
Page prepared by Heather Rissler in consultation with Michael Hubenthal, Education Specialist, IRIS.
Program URL: http://www.iris.edu/about/ENO/ Program Type:
IRIS Professional Development for Educators
Workshops; Partnerships with School Districts Program Size:
Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) is a consortium of over 100 research universities and institutions dedicated to monitoring the Earth and exploring its interior through the collection and distribution of seismological data. Leveraging the resources of the consortium, the IRIS Education and Outreach program strives to make significant and lasting contributions to science education, scientific literacy through the professional development of teachers. IRIS currently offers such professional development in two formats. Earthquakes!
, a one-day workshop for educators, is typically offered in conjunction with national and regional meetings (see schedule
). In addition to traditional workshops, IRIS also collaborates with individual school systems to design integrated professional development experiences. These partnerships consist of an individualized professional development plan tailored to support specific student learning/needs identified by the school system . Such individualized collaborations occur over an extended timeframe and are an intensive collaboration.
What was the impetus for the program?
While involved in developing and leading traditional workshops since 1998, IRIS has concluded that the external nature of traditional formats of professional development limits alignment with the professional development research base and ultimately, creates a ceiling for effectiveness. Therefore, IRIS is currently shifting its professional development efforts away from isolated one-day workshops towards an integrated model of working with school systems. Such collaborations allows efforts to be:
- constructed with the purpose of generating a perceptible change in student knowledge and skill,
- focused on enhancing teacher content and pedagogical content knowledge to effect change in classroom practice,
- relevant and coherent for teachers,
- varied in the types of professional development and active learning strategies used, and
- individualized, not only for individual participants, but also recognizing the distinctiveness of each school setting.
Who is involved?
Audience - Generally workshops are limited to 25 Earth science teachers; however, the integrated model of professional development allows IRIS to work with a substantially larger number of teachers over a longer period of time.
Content Providers - IRIS professional development is lead by members of the IRIS consortium, including geophysics faculty from a variety of IRIS institutions as well as science educators. Additionally, IRIS also works with other science organizations including SCEC (Southern California Earthquake Center), UNAVCO, and the USGS.
How is the program evaluated?
Surveys and interviews using both open and closed-ended questions are used to evaluate teacher reactions to the professional development. Assessment of teacher learning is carried out at the workshops and the use of new activities and time spent presenting the material is assessed at the end of the school year. When working with district partnerships, assessment is focused on student learning and as such is varied based on the needs identified by that district. Typically it includes assessing whether teachers are implementing outcomes from workshops and partnership activities. Students are also assessed to determine whether the programs have an impact on the student learning needs identified by the district in the planning phase.
How is the program maintained and funded?
IRIS is funded as an NSF facility. District partners may also provide professional development funds to support work with teachers in the district.
Hints for starting a program like this:
Michael Hubenthal (personal communication)
- Patience and determination during the initial work of designing the focus and plan for an integrated professional development model are critical to the ultimate success of the effort.
- The dynamic nature of school districts requires the science community to be patient and flexible when implementing long-range plans with school systems.
References and Notes:
IRIS Education and Outreach resources include links to one page informational handouts on seismology and information on the IRIS Seismographs In Schools Program.
Assessing the IRIS Professional Development Model: Impact Beyond the Workshops (Hubenthal et al., 2003; AGU Meeting Abstract)
Earth and Space Science Professional Development Project: Description of the partnership program in Yuma, AZ.
Teachers 'all shook up' over lesson. (Jackie Leatherman, Yuma Sun, January 27, 2005) and Yuma earth science classes get new spin. (Tammy Kirkorian, Yuma Sun, January 29, 2006): News articles from the Yuma Sun discussing IRIS professional development workshops held in Yuma, AZ.