SEP views evaluation as integral to its work, providing critical information used for the continual refinement and evolution of our programs. We use a mixed methods approach to assess outcomes for K-12 students, teachers, and scientist volunteers. These methods include participant surveys, interviews, open-ended reflections, lesson and planning meeting observations, and student work.
A sample of outcomes from individual programs are highlighted on those programs’ web pages. Presented below is a brief overview of our outcomes and some recent highlights.
- increase their science content knowledge
- gain the confidence to teach science
- raise their expectations of their students
- further their understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry and how to translate this to the classroom
Teachers continue to gain benefit from repeated participation in our classroom-based partnership programs, irrespective of their years of teaching experience. For example, in our elementary level partnership program, returning teachers are far more likely than teachers participating for the first time to strongly agree/agree that the partnership program:
- has increased the amount of time they spend thinking about their own and others’ teaching practice (93% vs. 76%)
- has pushed them to reflect more on what students have learned (97% vs. 62%)
- has resulted in them increasingly using evidence from student work when making teaching decisions (93% vs. 43%)
- has helped them become more comfortable teaching science (93% vs. 67%)
- has increased their confidence in teaching investigative science (93% vs. 71%)
In the words of a teacher: hear a veteran SEP teacher speak about the many ways her work with SEP has benefited her teaching and career.
- develop their teaching and communication skills
- rediscover their enthusiasm for science
- become advocates for science education and teachers
UCSF scientist volunteers, regardless of whether they are new or returning participants:
- have improved their ability to plan hands-on science lessons (94%)
- are more likely to use hands-on science activities in their teaching (75%)
- have learned teaching strategies that help them involve all students in science learning (91%).
As with our teacher population, scientists also gain additional benefit if they participate in the program for more than one year. For example, returning scientists are more likely than first-time volunteers:
- to have gained insight into how to implement inquiry in the classroom (90% vs. 76%)
- are more comfortable teaching science (90% vs. 73%)
- are more likely to use teaching strategies learned through the partnership if they teach undergraduates or professional students in the future (83% vs. 65%)
- and have improved their communication skills (90% vs. 65%).
There are also some perhaps unexpected outcomes for scientists who participate in our programs, these include:
- increased personal confidence (52%)
- deepened understanding of the process of science (39%)
- reinvigoration of their love of science (48%).
In the words of a scientist: hear a veteran SEP volunteer speak about the many ways her work with SEP has benefited her teaching and career.
- experience authentic, rigorous, hands-on science lessons
- begin to view themselves as scientists through their contact with scientific role models.
Pre-post surveys of the students in partnership classrooms show a statistically significant increase in:
- their understanding of the tools associated with science (p=.026)
- their personal familiarity with scientists and/or seeing themselves as scientists (p<.0001)
Of the over 100 high school juniors who have participated in the High School Intern Program since 2000, at least 92% have since matriculated to college while only 54% would be expected to have done so based on their parents’ educational attainment. High school intern alumni from 2000-2003 responded to a follow-up survey conducted in June 2007; over 50% of them are pursuing graduate/professional education in the sciences.
In addition to the above, our criteria for success includes providing a high quality program; and, nearly 100% of teacher and scientist participants strongly agree/agree SEP is a valuable and effective way to support K-12 science education.