can be sequenced into a flow of science instruction in order to integrate student learning of science content and science processes. After completion of the course, teachers’ classroom behaviors were videotaped and analyzed against “traditional” and “reformed” instructional strategies. Participant teachers were also interviewed. The authors concluded that professional development activities that are short-term interventions have virtually no effect on teachers’ behaviors in leading laboratory experiences. They also concluded that longer term interventions—13 weeks in this case—result in some change in the instructional strategies teachers use.
Project ICAN: Inquiry, Context, and Nature of Science. Project ICAN includes an intensive three-day summer orientation for science teachers followed by full-day monthly workshops from September through June, focusing on the nature of science and scientific inquiry. The program was designed in part to address weakness in science teachers’ understanding of the nature of science, which was documented in earlier research (Khalic and Lederman, 2000; Schwartz and Lederman, 2002). This earlier research indicated that, just as engaging students in laboratory experiences in isolation led to little or no increase in their understanding of the nature of science, engaging prospective or current science teachers in laboratory activities led to little or no increase in their understanding of the nature of science. Professional development and preservice programs that combined laboratory experiences with instruction about the key concepts of the nature of science and engaged teachers in reflecting on their experiences in light of those concepts were more successful in developing improved understanding (Khalic and Lederman, 2000).
In the ICAN program, teachers participate in science internships with working scientists as one element in a larger program of instruction that includes an initial orientation and monthly workshops. These workshops include microteaching (peer presentation) sessions. Program faculty report that many teachers tend to dwell on hands-on activities with their students at the expense of linking them with the nature of science and with abilities associated with scientific inquiry. They further report (Lederman, 2004, p. 8):
By observing practicing scientists and writing up their reflections, teachers gained insight into what scientists do in various research areas, such as crystallization, vascular tissue engineering, thermal processing of materials, nutrition, biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, protein purification and genetics…. Periodic checks indicated that the science internship helped teachers improve their understanding of [the nature of science] and [science inquiry]. For example, teachers realized that there is no unique method called “the scientific method,” after comparing the methods used in different labs, such as a biochemistry lab, engineering lab, and zoos. It was also clear that teachers’ enhanced their understanding of science subject matter specific to the lab they experienced.