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University of Iowa News Release

May 26, 2006

UI Shares In $5 Million NSF Grant To Study Science Teacher Preparation

The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Iowa and two partner institutions a five-year, $5 million grant to determine what elements of teacher preparation programs best prepare science educators for the classroom and result in notable improvements in student achievement.

The project, titled "Investigating the Meaningfulness of Pre-service Programs Across the Continuum of Teaching" (IMPPACT), involves the UI, Syracuse University and North Carolina State University and will run from 2006-2011. The research will include studies involving teaching majors prior to any science education courses, students at the end of the campus program, a sampling of graduates during the first three years of teaching and a sample of in-service teachers with five or more years of experience.

The researchers hope to examine the impact of specific science teaching programs on content and teaching knowledge and determine how those programs translate into better achievement among 7th- to 12th-grade students. During the course of the study, the UI and its partners will also investigate what role science teacher preparation plays in helping recruit, prepare and support science teachers.

In the fifth year of the study the findings will be published in a variety of forms, including a Web site and DVD that will be made available nationally to science educators and teachers in training.

"The five years of the study promise to produce real evidence for what kind of teaching is needed to keep students involved in their own learning and to see that learning affects their daily lives and the improvement of their communities and the world," said Robert Yager, UI professor emeritus of science education and head of the Iowa research team and co-primary investigator for the entire project.

From 1993-1998, Yager directed the Department of Education-funded Salish I Research Project, the precursor to the IMPPACT project. Yager will assist with establishing the final research protocols, selecting research site staff members and interacting with instructional staff associated with the UI research.

In addition to Yager, the UI research team includes: Norbert Pienta, associate professor of chemistry and director of undergraduate studies for the department of chemistry, who will serve as UI co-investigator; Margaret Sadeghpour-Kramer, long-time elementary and middle school science teacher, who will coordinate the case study aspects of IMPPACT at the UI; and Zeha Yakar and Jeffrey Ploegstra, UI doctoral candidates in science education who will work as research assistants. Professor Timothy Ansley of the Iowa Testing Program will serve on a panel of experts for the entire national project.

The Syracuse University and North Carolina State University project teams include: John Tillotson, dual associate professor in the departments of science teaching and the teaching leadership program at Syracuse, who will serve as the principal investigator; John Penick, professor and head of mathematics, science and technology education at North Carolina State; Geoffrey Seltzer, alumni associate professor of earth science at Syracuse, who will serve as co-investigator; and Maria Oliver-Hoyo, assistant professor of chemistry at North Carolina State, who will serve as co-investigator. Research assistants will also be involved at the Syracuse and North Carolina State sites.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen J. Pradarelli, 319-384-0007, stephen-pradarelli@uiowa.edu; Writer: Kelli Andresen