Quinnipiac University's Science Teaching & Learning Center (QUeST-LC)
QUeST-LC is committed to bridging the gap between the existing research on how students learn and the teaching practices used every day in classrooms across Connecticut.
School of Education, Quinnipiac University
Profile submitted by Cindy Kern
Vision and Goals
QUeST-LC is committed to bridging the gap between the existing research on how students learn and the teaching practices used every day in classrooms across Connecticut. We are here to help passionate practitioners critically reflect on their teaching practices as a mechanism to enhance the learning experience of their student.
QUeST-LC is directed by one faculty member who is provided 12 credit hours release for the center. The center is within the School of Education and does not have a physical structure. Currently, the center does approximately 34 professional learning events a year with about 1400 participant visits by K-12 teachers in south-central Connecticut and 15 College of Arts and Science faculty.
Are there advantages of being structured this way?
An advantage of this structure is decision making is easy when only one person is involved in decision making...
Are there particular challenges that result from this structure?
I have built a tremendous community of teachers and administrators that provide invaluable insight into the needs and expectations of the K-12 teachers and collaboration. However, I do not have collaborators on research endeavors, design and implementation, or on how to grow the center.
Primarily the center is sustained by foundation grants ranging from $5000-$25,000. Bristol Myers Squibb is the original funders for the center and has contributed $25,000 a year since the center's inception. However, they are moving out of CT and this is the last year of funding. Additionally, the center has been granted approximately $250,000 in Teacher Quality Partnership grants.
How has this funding structure influenced the undergraduate STEM education programming the center offers?
Funding in the undergraduate STEM education greatest influence is on student intending to enter the Science Education MAT program.
What are the specific advantages of having a center funded in this way?
The center has a wide variety of funding types allowing for greater diversity of the events provided.
What are the challenges?
A specific challenge as a center directed and maintained by one part-time faculty is the time it requires to write grant proposals and the accompanying accountability reports.
Has this funding structure has changed over time?
Description of Programming
Sustained professional learning is a complex and iterative process that is dependent upon the interactions among the teacher, the school, and the learning activity (Opfer & Pedder, 2011). With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards and the inevitable pressure associated with standardized testing, Connecticut science teachers find themselves in a stressful situation that can lead to personal and professional growth. Lieberman, an early advocate for professional learning, suggested that learning "is both personal and professional, individual and collective, inquiry-based and technical (p. 592)." Professional Learning at QUeST-LC is designed to provide science teachers with NGSS-based learning experiences providing an opportunity to understand and discuss the latest research associated with learning science. Followed by a scaffolded experience of creating an instructional unit outline meant to be the basis for the development of a cohesive NGSS-based instructional unit. Additionally, the experience is designed to support professional reflection allowing teachers to learn NGSS while implementing NGSS.
Workshop Wednesdays are 2-hour workshops designed to meet the needs of science teachers as they negotiate their understanding of how to implement the NGSS. The greatest leverage point for reaching students is highly prepared teachers. This format provides an opportunity for sustained quality professional learning as a mechanism to influence the educational experience of Connecticut students. The Workshop Wednesday format involves Science Teacher Leaders involved in Project SING presenting sense-making strategies aligned with the NGSS. The presenter engages the participants as learners in the strategy, discuss how to implement it with students, shares student examples, and leads a discussion around implementation. We have teacher representatives from 18 school districts and we average 22 participants each month from January 2016 to May 2017.
QUeST-LC Hangout is a monthly collaboratory designed to provide time and space for CT science teachers to meet with colleagues to work on NGSS-based instructional units, NGSS-based assessments, and implementation strategies. Teachers also collaborate and problem-solve various problems of practice associated with the implementation of NGSS. This positive environment is a fluid 4-hour block of time is designed to:
- Support a "critical friends" collaboration,
- Encourage an eagerness, energy, and enthusiasm for meaningful science teaching,
- Prevent teacher isolation as they work to enact NGSS in their classrooms, schools, and school districts.
- Provide a safe, supported space to negotiate the paradigm shift towards NGSS
The QUeST-LC Unconference is an innovative spin on a traditional conference. Project SING fellows, as well as other CT Science teachers who have attended QUeST-LC events, will be presenting NGSS-based strategies based on the needs of the participants.
Successes and Impacts
Evaluation and Assessment
How does your center demonstrate its value, both in terms of assessing its own programming and responding to external evaluation?