A part of the SERC Teacher Professional Development Program Collection
Learning Resource Center
Program URL: http://www.smate.wwu.edu/smate/
Grade level: Pre-16 (all grade levels are supported)
The Learning Resource Center is a large on-campus facility that houses state-of-the-art classrooms, teaching materials, over 15,000 books on science education and pedagogy, and hosts an extensive website. These resources are used in the pre-service teacher training program at Western Washington University, as well as by local practicing teachers and faculty at Western Washington University. Designed to support science education in grades K-16.
See profiles of other affiliated programs.
What was the impetus for the program?
The initial idea for the Learning Resource Center started in the 1930's and by the 1950's many faculty were thinking about it at Western Washington University. The concept originated as a scholarly pursuit - to draw on scientists for science education. The Learning Resource Center was envisioned as a place that education students could use to experiment with their teaching ideas and have all the materials and resources available to them in one location to do so. When the Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (SMATE) program needed new lecture halls, the Science Education group worked hard to ensure the space in that building for the Learning Resource Center.
The Learning Resource Center was the first of its kind at a public, state-funded institution.
How is the program structured?
The Learning Resource Center occupies 19,000 square feet within the Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education program building at Western Washington University. A small staff, including a director, assistant director and administrative assistant, maintains and runs the facility. Besides an extensive library, and computer facilities, the Learning Resource Center has three classrooms that are used primarily for preservice teacher training and professional development programs, such as the NCOSP Summer Academy. In addition, the Learning Resource Center houses numerous materials that can be borrowed by teachers and faculty for use in science courses at the university or off-campus. Materials include consumables such as glue, glitter, and paper, as well as books, microscopes, and slides. (The full list of materials is available online.) Finally, the Learning Resource Center maintains a web page that describes its resources and how people at all levels of science education can get involved.
Who is involved?
Science faculty from the Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education program as well as the individual science and education departments at Western Washington University use the Learning Resource Center for holding classes and obtaining materials for their courses. Faculty also use the facility for professional development activities.
Teachers throughout the region have access to the Learning Resource Center. Preservice teachers at Western Washington University pay a small lab fee as part of their courses. Practicing teachers who are part of the NCOSP program are funded through NCOSP to use the facility and any other teacher who would like to borrow materials pays a small fee. These fees are used to help replenish the consummable supplies as well as maintain the facility.
How is the program maintained and funded?
Initially, the Learning Resource Center needed institutional support and space on campus to house all the materials, similar to what would be required to start up and keep a small library or chemistry stockroom.
Most of the money to support the Learning Resource Center comes from the University's budget for pre-service teacher training. The Learning Resource Center is self-sustained through small course fees from students as well as minorly by activities run for the public by pre-service teachers at the Learning Resource Center.
Hints for starting a program like this:
- "Be aware of what the students [preservice teachers] and teachers really need. Make sure the materials will be utilized before you buy them. Once you have the items, make sure that they are used."
- "You need an extremely compentant technician/librarian to efficiently maintain, run, store, label, catalog, and keep track of all the equipment and materials."
- "Ask for materials and equipment to be donated. The worst people can say is 'no'." Many people and organizations have donated items such as curriculum kits. Be inventive in gathering materials; see if you can swap items from different groups and be on the lookout for materials that are no longer being used in their original location and might be of use in the resource center (for example, microscopes that are being replaced in the biology department).
References and Notes:
- Dr. Susan DeBari wrote an essay about this program and other science education programs at Western Washington University as part of her participation in the SERC Developing the Earth Science Teacher Workforce Workshop.
- Major funding for the NCOSP program is provided through a five year (2003-2008) grant from the National Science Foundation Math and Science Partnership Grant #0315060
Profiles of Affiliated Programs:
- The North Cascades and Olympic Science Partnership (NCOSP) Program is a large, regional partnership between a university, four community colleges, 26 school districts, and other regional education agencies. The primary goals of the partnership are to "reform science education in grades 3-10...
- The NCOSP Summer Academy professional development institute is used to train Teacher Leaders associated with the NCOSP program. The institute runs for two weeks each year for three years and explores a different science subject each year...
- "The Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education program at Western Washington University is dedicated to the enrichment and education of K-12 pre-service teachers...
- The GK-12 Catalysts for Reform program partners graduate students and advanced undergraduate students with local practicing teachers to serve as resources...
- Geoscience Education Masters Degree: This is an example of a masters student in a geoscience department who did her research on a geoscience education topic...
- The Washington Earth Science Inititative was an intensive three-week summer institute that assisted Earth Science teachers in developing inquiry-based, environmental research projects for their students...