Current Event

Current Event #3
Theory and Research in Science Teaching
SED 625
Carole Smith
For my third current event, I read “Testing Models of Collaboration
among High School Science Teachers in an Electric Environment”,
published in the February/March issue of the High School Journal. The
paper investigates the use of e-mail and the internet among science teaches.
The research explored how the internet could be used as a tool to increase
collaboration amongst science teachers. Briefly, 31 science teachers from 24
different high schools were surveyed via questionnaires and personal
interviews to discover their answers to the following questions:
 How did they perceive the potential for collaboration amongst
teachers via the internet
 Did they see a need to collaborate with other teachers’ via the internet
 In what context do teachers collaborate with each other on the internet
 Why do some teachers collaborate more than others in an electronic
 What are some barriers to science teachers’ collaboration via the
The researchers concluded that increasing collaboration will be a goal for
schools, but that currently most science teachers rarely used the internet
as a tool for collaboration and that most science teachers had negative
ideas about collaboration via the internet.
I chose this article to review because I was interested in its premise.
Integrating technology into our teaching of science is frequently
considered, but as a teaching tool rather than as a support. For example, I
know how to integrate technology into teaching students how to use a pH
meter with computer access, but I have not considered collaborating with
other teachers as to best teaching practices for this topic. Unfortunately, I
was very disappointed with this article.
My main criticism of it is the very small sample size of the research
pool. As mentioned previously, 31 science teachers were surveyed from
24 different schools. However, only teachers from 16 schools responded
to the survey, so the pool of teachers for data collection was even less.
Given that in California alone there are more than 13,000 schools, their
sample size certainly does not seem to be a fair representation of the
educational community. For example, their research shows that “most
science teachers are almost never involved in a team for instructional
improvement (71%) … or develop teams with other teachers to support
professional growth improvement (71%).” At the school that I teach at,
Palisades Charter High School, nothing could be further than the truth –
we are all active participants in a variety of different committees and
educational programs designed to increase student achievement. With the
latest educational theorist suggesting the “small learning communities”
model, I am sure that my school is no different from many others. Their
research could have been improved upon by collecting data from more
schools. Additionally, their research focused on the answers to a
relatively small amount of questions, 24 with only one being short
answer. It hardly seems good research, or even a fair indication of
science teachers, to look at such a few amount of teachers with only a
handful of questions.
Another criticism that I have of this article is that the majority of the
article was focused on how the research was conducted and data collected
than on its implications. I understand the value of illustrating their intent
and methods, but feel that it took away from the educational value of the
article. Their research could have been improved upon by collecting data
from more schools and their article improved upon by being more
thoughtful about their results and its implications.
Despite these drawbacks, the article did raise several good points for
educational theorists to consider. The internet has the potential to be a
powerful tool in increasing teacher collaboration, mentoring, team
teaching, and sharing of resources. I was interested to learn that most of
the science teachers that participated in the survey were males, and that
overall more men rated themselves as being comfortable with
technology. I found this an interesting illustration of one of the
differences in male and female learning styles that was not mentioned in
the first two chapters of “Boys and Girls Learn Differently”. I was also
surprised to learn that most teachers surveyed strongly disagree about
collaborating with teachers on the internet that they had met face-to-face,
but again, due to the studies small sample size this may not actually be
the case if the research had been expanded.
I found this article useful in the possibilities that it explored. I
certainly would be eager to collaborate with others via the internet to
learn best teaching practices and share information. A limitation that I see
is finding the other teachers to collaborate with. Part of the reason for my
enrolling in the science cohort at CSUN is for that very reason – I enjoy,
and thrive, upon sharing and learning from others. I believe that the
internet could be a dynamic pathway for teacher collaboration, but lack
some of the technology skills to fully utilize it at the moment. I am
interested in how other teachers would feel about this issue and will bring
it up at my next science department meeting, as well as the next district
wide chemistry teachers meeting and, if possible, a conference I am
attending next week.