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Abstract Title: Evaluating Safe Science Teaching Practice in the U.S.
Abstract: Science safety in is a vital issue in 2008 because: 1) it is tested on many state science content tests, 2) pre-service teachers take the Praxis test which also requires knowledge of safe science practice, 3) teachers are being trained in alternative ways that may omit safe science methods, 4) science content standards in many states emphasize doing science without specific safety guidelines, especially for middle and elementary classrooms and 5) science methods curricula have not always included planning for and conducting experiments safely. National Science Education Standards (NSES) encourage active science learning with "best practices" promoting inquiry-based and hands-on instruction at all instructional levels. Teachers who teach science are using equipment that may or may not be developmentally appropriate for their students (using open flames in K-2nd grade, for example). Accidents occur and go unreported. Based on a survey of practice in South Dakota schools, a national survey of science teaching practice K-12 is proposed.
Abstract Type: PER Dating Service

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Cathy Mariotti Ezrailson
University of South Dakota
414 E. Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069
Phone: 605-677-5830
Fax: 605-677-5438
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Looking for collaborators and data from other states.

PER Dating Service Specific Information

Research Question: To this end I propose a study that will answer the following research questions:
1. Do U.S. teachers use correct (and safe) practices (as outlined in the National Science Teachers Association Guidelines and elsewhere) when teaching science?
2. What is the state of safety training for K-12 science teachers in South Dakota as well as nationally?
3. What are the key safety issues that face the classroom teacher and for which they MUST be trained? And, how do these vary by grade level?
4. How will K-12 teachers, when trained explicitly in safe science teaching practices, demonstrate learning of knowledge and skills of appropriate safety practices?
5. Will U.S. K-12 teachers, when trained explicitly in safe science teaching practices, apply those practices when teaching science in their classrooms?
Research Methods: Based on the preliminary results from the South Dakota Science Safety Survey field test, a national study is proposed that includes a mixed methods study that includes:
1. construction of a survey of practice;
2. a series of focus groups held around the country with common questions posed about safe science teaching practice and other safety issues;
3. semi-structured interviews to produce a snapshot of science practice in public schools.
It would be useful to design this as a 5-year longitudinal study, adding locations to be surveyed each year.
Desired Audience: Possible collaborators, PER's, National, Regional and Local Government officials, university researchers, school administrators.