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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Teacher Characteristics and School-Based Professional Development in Inclusive STEM-focused High Schools: A Cross-case Analysis
by Spillane, Nancy Kay, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2015, 358; 3687663
Abstract (Summary)

Within successful Inclusive Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-focused High Schools (ISHSs), it is not only the students who are learning. Teachers, with diverse backgrounds, training, and experience, share and develop their knowledge through rich, embedded professional development to continuously shape their craft, improve their teaching, and support student success. This study of four exemplars of ISHSs (identified by experts in STEM education as highly successful in preparing students underrepresented in STEM for STEM majors in college and future STEM careers) provides a rich description of the relationships among the characteristics of STEM teachers, their professional development, and the school cultures that allow teachers to develop professionally and serve the needs of students. By providing a framework for the development of teaching staffs in ISHSs and contributing to the better understanding of STEM teaching in any school, this study offers valuable insight, implications, and information for states and school districts as they begin planning improvements to STEM education programs. A thorough examination of an existing data set that included site visits to four ISHSs along with pre- and post-visit data, provided the resource for this multiple case study with cross-case analysis of the teachers and their teacher professional development experiences.

Administrators in these ISHSs had the autonomy to hire teachers with strong content backgrounds, philosophical alignment with the school missions, and a willingness to work collaboratively toward achieving the schools' goals. Ongoing teacher professional development began before school started and continued throughout the school day and year through intense and sustained, formal and informal, active learning experiences. Flexible professional development systems varied, but aligned with targeted school reforms and teacher and student needs. Importantly, collaborative teacher learning occurred within a school-wide culture of collaboration. Teachers were guided in establishing open lines of communication that supported regular engagement with others and the free flow of ideas, practices, and concerns. As a result of this collaboration, in conjunction with intentional pathways to teacher leadership, teacher professionalization was deliberately and successfully fostered creating an environment of shared mission and mutual trust, and a shared sense of responsibility for school-wide decision-making and school outcomes.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lynch, Sharon J.
Commitee: Kortecamp, Karen, Peters-Burton, Erin E.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Curriculum and Instruction
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 76/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Teacher education, Science education
Keywords: School reform, Stem education, Teacher professional development
Publication Number: 3687663
ISBN: 978-1-321-65330-4
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