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Science Investigation Stations in the Library-Dissertation


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  • 1. SCIENCE INVESTIGATION STATIONS IN THE ELEMENTARY LIBRARY: MULTIPLE COLLABORATIONS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS A Doctoral Dissertation Research Submitted to the Faculty of Argosy University, Phoenix Campus College of Education In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education by Lisa D’Ann Hettler October, 2013
  • 3. iii SCIENCE INVESTIGATION STATIONS IN THE ELEMENTARY LIBRARY: MULTIPLE COLLABORATIONS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS A Doctoral Dissertation Research Submitted to the Faculty of Argosy University, Phoenix Campus in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education by Lisa D’Ann Hettler Argosy University October, 2013 Dissertation Committee Approval: Sue Adragna, Ph.D. Date Gerry Bedore, Ph.D. Heather K. Pederson, Ph.D.
  • 4. iv SCIENCE INVESTIGATION STATIONS IN THE ELEMENTARY LIBRARY: MULTIPLE COLLABORATIONS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation Research Submitted to the Faculty of Argosy University, Phoenix Campus College of Education In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education by Lisa D’Ann Hettler Argosy University October 2013 Susan Adragna, Ph.D. Gerry Bedore, Ph.D. Department: College of Education
  • 5. v ABSTRACT The purpose of this qualitative case study was to describe and explain the perceptions of a new science program, Science Investigation Stations in the Library, being implemented in a large school district in Texas. Four schools that participated in the program during the 2012–2013 school year were asked to participate. Fifth grade teachers, librarians, and academic support teachers of science from each of the campuses were invited to participate. Twelve participants completed an open-ended questionnaire about the collaboration process of the stations, as well as the perceived benefits to the fifth grade students’ academic achievements in science. Additional data was collected from a focus group interview with four librarians and comments from questions posted on a blog. Findings indicate that the collaboration piece, though desired by the librarians and academic support teachers, was perceived to have minimal teacher involvement. As for the perceived benefits to science understandings of fifth graders, all three groups noticed high motivation, effective participation, and support for various learning styles and sub- groups of students. Further qualitative data and quantitative data would help to elaborate on the potential benefits of the program.
  • 6. vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my chair, Dr. Susan Adragna and committee member, Dr. Gerry Bedore, for their invaluable support and guidance in the planning and implementation of this research project. The deepest appreciation is further offered to the librarians, teachers, and academic support teachers of the school district for their participation in the research study. Without their contributions of time and resources, this study would not have been possible. Additional thanks go to those fellow classmates along the journey, whose words of encouragement and feedback made the tough parts bearable. Also, those friends that were in my original dissertation writing group so many years ago, thank you so much for believing in me and encouraging me to continue even when I wanted to quit.
  • 7. vii DEDICATION To JAB, thank you for loving me and believing that I could do this! To my parents, thank you for always loving me and for understanding and encouraging my continual need to learn something new.
  • 8. viii TABLE OF CONTENTS Page TABLE OF APPENDICES ............................................................................................... xi   CHAPTER ONE: THE PROBLEM ................................................................................... 1   Problem Background .............................................................................................. 4   Problem Statement.................................................................................................. 6   Purpose of the Study............................................................................................... 6   Research Questions................................................................................................. 6   Limitations.............................................................................................................. 7   Delimitations........................................................................................................... 8   Definition of Terms................................................................................................. 8   Academic Support Teacher (AST).................................................................... 8   Constructivism.................................................................................................. 9   Cooperative/Collaborative Learning................................................................. 9   Library Standards.............................................................................................. 9   Perceptions...................................................................................................... 10   State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR™ ).................. 10   Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).............................................. 10   Importance of the Study........................................................................................ 11   CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.................................................... 13   Constructivism...................................................................................................... 14   Dewey and Personal, Meaningful, Student-Centered Education.................... 16   Piaget and Developmental Stages................................................................... 19   Vygotsky and the Zone of Proximal Development......................................... 22   Bruner and Social Constructivism .................................................................. 25   von Glasersfeld and Radical Constructivism.................................................. 31   Constructivism in Science Education ............................................................. 34   Current Research on Science Education of Elementary Students ........................ 38   The How and Why of Science Learning......................................................... 39   Cooperative Learning and Collaboration........................................................ 45   Misconceptions in Science.............................................................................. 46   Use of Technology.......................................................................................... 48   Depth of Understanding.................................................................................. 51   Science and Literacy Connections.................................................................. 52   Staff Collaboration................................................................................................ 56   Partnering with Teachers ................................................................................ 56   Models for Collaboration................................................................................ 57   Libraries as Contributors to Academic Achievement........................................... 58   Support and Enhancement of Academic Achievement of Students ............... 58   Support of At-Risk and Special Needs Students............................................. 59   Growth in Student Scientific Inquiry.............................................................. 60   Summary............................................................................................................... 61  
  • 9. ix CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY ......................................................................... 62   Research Design.................................................................................................... 63   Selection of Participants ................................................................................. 65   Obtaining Permissions .............................................................................. 66   Instrumentation ............................................................................................... 66   SISL Perceptions Questionnaire ............................................................... 67   Focus Group Discussions.......................................................................... 68   Methodological Assumptions ......................................................................... 69   Procedures....................................................................................................... 70   IRB Protection and Ethical Considerations .................................................... 72   Data Processing and Analysis............................................................................... 72   CHAPTER FOUR: FINDINGS........................................................................................ 75   Descriptive Data.................................................................................................... 76   School A.......................................................................................................... 79   School B.......................................................................................................... 80   School C.......................................................................................................... 80   School D.......................................................................................................... 81   Data Collection and Analysis................................................................................ 82   Librarians .............................................................................................................. 84   Research Question One................................................................................... 85   Collaborative Roles of Team Members .................................................... 86   Teacher’s Role in Collaboration ............................................................... 88   Lessons Before and After Stations............................................................ 90   Effects on Other Teaching ........................................................................ 90   Research Question Four.................................................................................. 91   Stations Overall Enhancement of Science Learning................................. 91   Use Of Best Practices in Science Learning............................................... 93   Support for Student Learning of Science Concepts Through Different Learning Styles ......................................................................................... 95   Support For Special Education and ELL Students ................................... 96   Academic Support Teachers of Science ............................................................... 96   Research Question Two .................................................................................. 97   Collaborative Role of Team Members...................................................... 98   Teacher’s Role in Collaboration ............................................................... 98   Lessons Before and After Stations............................................................ 98   Effects on Other Teaching ........................................................................ 99   Research Question Five ........................................................................................ 99   Stations’ Overall Enhancement of Science Learning ............................... 99   Use Of Best Practices in Science Learning............................................. 100   Support for Student Learning Of Science Concepts Through Different Learning Styles ....................................................................................... 103   Support For Special Education And ELL Students ................................ 104   Fifth Grade Teachers........................................................................................... 105   Research Question Three .............................................................................. 107   Collaborative Roles of Team Members .................................................. 107  
  • 10. x Teacher’s Role in Collaboration ............................................................. 108   Lessons Before and After Stations.......................................................... 109   Effects on Other Teaching ...................................................................... 109   Research Question Six .................................................................................. 110   Stations Overall Enhancement of Science Learning............................... 110   Use Of Best Practices in Science Learning............................................. 111   Support for Student Learning of Science Concepts Through Different Learning Styles ....................................................................................... 113   Support for At-Risk, Special Education and ELL Students.................... 114   CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS 115   Discussion........................................................................................................... 118   Perceptions About Collaborative Roles of Team Members ......................... 119   Specific Perceptions About the Teacher Role .............................................. 120   Perceptions That Teachers Were Essential for the Lessons Before and After the Stations.................................................................................................... 121   Perceptions of Effects on Teaching of Other Lessons.................................. 122   Perceptions About Overall Enhancement of Science Learning.................... 123   Perceptions About Use of Best Practices...................................................... 124   Cooperative Learning and Collaboration................................................ 124   Misconceptions in Science...................................................................... 125   Prior Knowledge ..................................................................................... 127   Use of Technology.................................................................................. 128   Science and Literacy Connections.......................................................... 128   Perceptions About Supports of Different Learning Styles ........................... 129   Perceptions About Support for At-Risk, Special Education, and English Language Learners........................................................................................ 130   Conclusions......................................................................................................... 133   Implications for Practice..................................................................................... 134   Implications for Research ................................................................................... 136   Recommendations............................................................................................... 138   REFERENCES ............................................................................................................... 140   APPENDICES ................................................................................................................ 151  
  • 11. xi TABLE OF APPENDICES Appendix Page A. District Approval Letter............................................................................................ 152 B. Sample of Principal Permission Letter...................................................................... 154 C. First Screen of Online Questionnaire with Consent.................................................. 156 D. Letter of Consent-Focus Group................................................................................. 158 E. Questionnaires for Participants-Teachers.................................................................. 161 F. Questionnaires for Participants-Librarians................................................................ 164 G. Questionnaires for Participants-ASTs....................................................................... 167 H. WebQuest Questionnaire for Teachers ..................................................................... 170 I. Permission to Use WebQuest Questionnaire.............................................................. 173 J. Compiled Questionnaire Responses........................................................................... 176 K. Focus Group Interview Transcript ............................................................................ 197 L. Compiled Blog Responses......................................................................................... 213
  • 12. 1 CHAPTER ONE: THE PROBLEM Science scores of American students and the science literacy of the American population have been a concern for several decades (DeBoer, 2000; Yager, 2000). Spurred to action by the Soviet launching of Sputnik into space in 1957, an outcry for reforming science education began (Frelindich, 1998). According to the most recent reports, little ground is being gained (Fleischman, Hopstock, Pelczar, & Shelley, 2010; Gonzales et al., 2009; National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). For example, according to Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies (TIMSS), fourth and eighth grade students’ scores in the United States showed no significant increases in 2007 when compared with the scores from 1995 (Gonzales et al., 2009). In addition, in 2007 only 15% of fourth graders and 10% of eighth graders scored at or above the level considered advanced. For both of these groups, these percentages were lower than the 1995 percentages for the fourth graders and the 1999 percentages for the eighth graders (Gonzales et al., 2009). In 2009, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) developed a new science framework to use for the science assessment given at grades 4, 8, and 12 (Aud et al., 2011). Reviewing the Texas scores from that year, it showed that 70% of fourth graders were at or above the basic level, 29% at or above the proficient level, and only 1% at the advanced level. Eighth graders, however, only had 64% at or above the basic level, 29% at or above the proficient level, and 2% at the advanced level. Data for grade 12 was not available at the state level (Aud et al., 2011). However, of even more importance than these mediocre test scores is a concern with what kind of students America is placing out into the world. For the 21st century, it is important that the students graduating from high school can do more than the basics, it is
  • 13. 2 essential in this technological, information-saturated world that these students be problem-solvers, critical thinkers, creative, and be able to predict and adapt to rapid changes. As Berube (2008) noted, We must forgo this notion of churning out students who care only about what grade they made or what their score was on a standardized test, but instead lead the way and focus on training children how to think, how to criticize, how to deduct, how to problem solve, how to figure, how to argue, how to create, how to appreciate—only then will our educational “product” be superior to that of any other nation on earth, for one cannot have leadership without leaders. (p. 110) Numerous national organizations, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Board of Science Education (BOSE) of the National Research Council (NRC), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and the National Center for Improving Science Education (NCISE) as well as the federal government, have called for a need to improve the science literacy of all Americans in order to prosper in a global society. For example, the NSF, created in 1950 by Congress, is “the only federal agency dedicated to the support of fundamental research and education in all scientific and engineering disciplines” (NSF, 2010). As outlined in the most recent strategic plan, “NSF envisions a nation that capitalizes on new concepts in science and engineering and provides global leadership in advancing research and education” (NSF, 2011, p. 3). Each year thousands of projects at universities and colleges receive funding from the NSF for research. In addition, since its inception, the NSF has supported education at all levels (NSF, 2008). The AAAS is another important organization that has a long history in support of science education. Begun in 1848, this organization has as its mission, “To advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people” (AAAS, 2012a, para.1). AAAS’s main extended education endeavor is Project 2061.
  • 14. 3 Started in 1985, Project 2061’s main goal, according to AAAS, is “to help all Americans become literate in science, mathematics, and technology” (AAAS, 2012b, para. 1). In addition, the book Science for All Americans, developed as a result of Project 2061, “consists of a set of recommendations on what understandings and ways of thinking are essential for all citizens in a world shaped by science and technology” (Rutherford & Ahlgren, 1990, p. 11). More recently, the United States witnessed the launch of President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” Campaign on November 23, 2009. This campaign is “a nationwide effort to help reach the administration’s goal of moving American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade” (“President Obama Launches,” 2009, para. 1). The federal government, as well as many other organizations and companies, are all expected to contribute to working with students to increase the number who are succeeding in science and math. As outlined in the campaign, the major goals include, • Increase STEM literacy so that all students can learn deeply and think critically in science, math, engineering, and technology. • Move American students from the middle of the pack to top in the next decade. • Expand STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and girls. (“Educate to Innovate,” 2012, para. 6) However, it is important to take all the research and input from the national organizations and apply it to the actual education system. This current study is an example of one method that a specific district was using to bring about changes in their students’ science education. As described in the following (“Problem Background”) section, the overall problem with science education in K–12 is narrowed down to the actual results in one large district in South Texas.
  • 15. 4 Problem Background The scores from the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) indicated that only 34% of elementary students “scored at or above proficient” (Banchero, 2011, para. 14). The state of Texas overall ranked average with 70% of the students scoring at or above basic and 29% scoring at or above proficient (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). Student scores on Texas’s state assessment, Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), show an 83% passing rate in science for all grades from the 2010–2011 school year (Texas Education Agency, 2011b). Reviewing the scores for fifth graders, overall state scores for 2011 indicate that 86% of students met the standard and fifth grade students in the metropolitan school district in central Texas where the current study took place actually had a 90% passing rate (Texas Education Agency, 2011c). However, based on information about the new state assessment, State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR™ ), “overall test difficulty will be increased by including more rigorous items” (“A Comparison of Assessment Attributes,” 2010, sec. 2). One area of particular concern is the first administration of the science- standardized test to students that occurs in the fifth grade. Since the test in fifth grade is the first time students are state-tested in science, this is a crucial year for building a solid foundation for all future science learning of the students. Based on this information, an idea was generated for a new way of presenting certain science information to fifth grade students. In addition, with the continual threat of budget cuts, finding new ways to showcase the respective expertise of the academic support teachers and the librarian would be helpful. A new program was created called Science Investigation Stations in the Library (SISL). In the school year 2010–2011, six
  • 16. 5 different school librarians, including the current researcher, and their respective schools were chosen to pilot the program. These six schools designed three units of stations to use at their various schools. In the summer of 2011, a professional development session about the program was presented to 15–20 other librarians. These librarians then completed one or more sets of stations during the 2011–2012 school year. Of the campuses continuing to use SISL, the researcher chose four campuses that conducted a set of stations during the 2012–2013 school year to participate in this qualitative case study. The stations served to present concepts and ideas about various science topics for fifth grade students based on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for Science and the Library Standards created by the district under study. In Texas, fifth grade students are the first group to take a state-standardized achievement test to assess their scientific understandings. The stations include the concepts of using literacy to enhance understanding, as well as recent research that shows students can understand more complex science than is often believed (Metz, 2011). A study by Evagorou, Korfiatis, Nicolaou, and Constantinou (2009) presented support for using simulations as well as focusing the stations on specific skills. However, there is no documentation that shows that a program, such as the Science Investigation Stations in the Library (SISL), has been attempted as a way for improving fifth grade science learning. This program brought together a variety of experts on the individual campuses to meet the needs of the particular students at that particular campus. At the same time, the overall framework for the program, if successful, could be implemented in a variety of schools across the district and statewide.
  • 17. 6 Problem Statement The problem was there had not been an evaluation of the effectiveness of the program Science Investigation Stations in the Library on the fifth graders’ science education or of the overall perceptions of the program from the views of the various participants, including librarians, academic support teachers of science (ASTs), and teachers, as implemented in four elementary libraries in a metropolitan school district in south central Texas. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this qualitative collective case study was twofold. The first objective was to analyze the perceptions of librarians, academic support teachers of science, and fifth grade teachers about the collaborative planning process of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library program. The second objective was to analyze the three groups’ perceptions of the impact on the fifth graders’ science education of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library program as implemented in four elementary libraries in a metropolitan school district in central Texas. Research Questions For the current qualitative collective case study, the researcher used several research questions to guide the study. The qualitative research questions were as follows: 1. How do the librarians, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program? 2. How do the academic support teachers of science, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program?
  • 18. 7 3. How do the fifth grade teachers, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program? 4. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the librarians attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project? 5. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the academic support teachers of science attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project? 6. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the fifth grade teachers attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project? The researcher used open-ended questions about perceptions on a questionnaire completed by all participants. The researcher then collected additional data from a focus group interview with librarians and focus group blogs with the librarians, academic support teachers of science, and fifth grade teachers. The collection of various pieces of data helped to provide an in-depth picture of the perceptions of the various participants— teachers, librarians, and academic support teachers—about the value of the program and its contributions to fifth graders’ science education. Limitations As noted by Bryant (2004), limitations of a study are those that come from methodology. A limitation to this qualitative study is the fact that participants may have completed the questionnaire with answers that they believed the researcher was expecting (Creswell, 2007). Also the open-endedness of the questions while providing rich data
  • 19. 8 may not allow for easy correlation between the various members (Creswell, 2007; Yin, 2009). The schools chosen to participate may not have conducted the science investigation stations in the same manner at each location. The amount of time spent by the various classes, as well as the time of day, may have varied between the participating schools. In addition, the various years of experience of the various team members could have affected the implementation of the program, as well as the perceptions of any academic achievements. Finally, the amount of staff development received by the librarians could have had an effect on the overall implementation of the program. Delimitations According to Bryant (2004), delimitations are those factors that can affect generalizability. Inherent in the case study methodology is the fact that the purpose is to describe the specific case and is not geared for too much generalizability (Creswell, 2007; Yin, 2009). However, a delimitation unique to this current study was that not all schools participating had an academic support teacher and this would affect analysis of that particular collaborative member. Another delimitation was that the schools studied were in a large district in central Texas. Therefore, the results may not be generalizable to rural districts, districts in other parts of Texas, and school districts in other states. The researcher focused the study on fifth graders in science so the results may not be relevant to other grades or subject areas. Definition of Terms Academic Support Teacher (AST) As defined by the job description within the school district, the academic support teacher or AST is a teacher who provides instruction and aid for students in a particular
  • 20. 9 subject area; in the case of this current study, science. Due to recent budget cuts, only those schools designated Title I by the federal government currently have an academic support teacher for science (L. Rollins, personal communication, January 11, 2012). Constructivism The concept of constructivism as a theory of learning is explored in the chapter two literature review. However, a concise definition, as it relates to science education and as considered for this current study, “is premised on the ideas that knowledge is ‘constructed’ on the basis of a person’s prior experiences” (Llewellyn, 2007, p. 55). Cooperative/Collaborative Learning According to the Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science (2005), cooperative and collaborative learning “refers to a variety of instructional arrangements that have the common characteristic of students working together to help one another learn” (Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, 2005, para. 1). For this present study, part of the research served to discover how the teachers, ASTs and librarians perceive the use of cooperative/collaborative learning, with regards to its use in the Science Investigation Stations in the library. Library Standards Library standards were created by a district committee and aligned with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Standards for the 21st Century Learner and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for English Language Arts and Reading. The standards are also informed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards (NETS*S) Performance Indicators for Students (Metropolitan District, 2010).
  • 21. 10 Perceptions Perceptions are based not only on what is construed by the senses, but also on what is given attention at any one time. Perceptions involve what has been experienced as well as what is taken from that experience by the individual (James, 1891). Perceptions are also influenced by the need to ignore some information, change how some information is viewed, and “by blending incoming meanings with our past habits present desires, and future directions” (Allport, 1961, p. 262). For the purposes of this current study, the following definition of perception applies: It is a process of inference in which people construct their own version of reality on the basis of information provided through the five senses...strongly influenced by their past experiences, education, cultural values, and role requirements, as well as by the stimuli recorded by their receptor organs (Heuer, 1999, p. 7). State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR™ ) STAAR™ replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) in Spring 2012 and administered to students in grades 3–8 in the subjects of math and reading at all grades, science in fifth and eighth grades, writing in fourth and seventh grades, and social studies in eighth grade (Texas Education Agency, 2011a). Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) TEKS are the state curriculum standards developed and adopted September 1, 1998 for all of the content areas and all grades K–12 (Texas Administrative Code, n.d.). Those TEKS dealing with fifth grade science were the focus of the current study. The science TEKS for grades K–12 were revised and became effective August 4, 2009 (Texas Education Agency, 2010).
  • 22. 11 Importance of the Study While there has been much research on the positive effects that libraries and librarians can have on student achievement (Achterman, 2008; AASL, 2009; Hockersmith, 2010; Lance, Rodney, & Schwarz, 2010), as well as the effects of different levels of collaboration (Montiel-Overall, 2005), there has been limited research on specific examples of programs that demonstrate the highest levels of collaboration and the potential effect on student academic achievement. The current study of the implementation of the science stations may add to the growing body of knowledge about the impact the library and librarian can have on student achievement. In addition, this qualitative case study on the Science Investigation Stations in the Library may lead to understanding in several key areas in the school setting. First, the perceptions from the various members could provide better understanding about how teachers, librarians, and instructional specialists can collaborate together to improve student achievement lending support to ideals of librarians and teachers collaborating as presented by Montiel-Overall (2005). Second, information may be gained on best practices for implementation of the stations. Finally, the use of the science stations may have a positive impact on fifth graders’ mastery of essential science understandings, vocabulary, inquiry and concepts as suggested by Krueger and Stefanich (2011). This chapter included and introduction to the current qualitative study conducted on a program in a large metropolitan school district in Central Texas. The following chapter includes the literature review that includes information on constructivism, science learning of elementary students, staff collaboration, and libraries as support for student achievement. Chapter three is a presentation of the methodology of the entire study and
  • 23. 12 includes information about the participants, the methodology used, and the data analysis. Chapter four contains a compilation of the findings from the data. Finally, the dissertation ends with chapter five that includes the discussion, conclusions, and recommendations based on the results of the research.
  • 24. 13 CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Science education reform became a hot topic in the late 1950s and continues to this day (National Research Council, 2007). In actuality, interest in the science research needs of America and the involvement of the federal government had begun during World War II and resulted in the formation of the National Science Foundation in 1950 (Mazuzan, 1994). Then in October of 1957, the Russians launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik (Garber, 2007). With the launching of Sputnik, the Foundation’s budget was increased and it began to address how to improve science education in the United States. In the 1980s, the publication of A Nation at Risk triggered another wave of standards and goals, including several reform efforts that led to higher average science scores (Berube, 2008). The 1990s continued to elicit a wide call for continued reform of science education for all students (Bybee, 1995). The trend in the 1990s, for the first time, inspired reform that would begin in elementary school and continue through high school. Finally, the most recent need for reform has only been made stronger with mandates in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 that required schools to begin assessing students in science starting by fifth grade (Michaels, Shouse, & Schweingruber, 2008). More than 50 years have passed since Sputnik and more than a decade of the 21st century is past. However, there is still an even greater need for science education in America. This time, the race is not into space, but rather a test of ingenuity and future leadership (Century, Rudnick, & Freeman, 2008). Individuals in the Central Texas district that is the focus of the study, based on a need for improving elementary science education, particularly at the fifth grade level, developed a science program that brings teachers, librarians, and academic support
  • 25. 14 teachers of science (AST) together to implement science project stations in the library for fifth grade students. The purpose of the stations is to allow the fifth graders to have engaged, enriched experiences of certain science topics. This chapter is a review of the literature as it applies to the Science Investigation Stations in the Library (SISL) program. While no such program has been reviewed in the literature, there has been research on the various structures upon which the program was designed. Constructivism, particularly as it applies to science education, has been considered an important approach for science education since the 1980s (Tobin & Tippins, 1993). In addition, since the focus of the SISL program is on science education, it is important to review the current research on science education for students. Furthermore, the success or failure of SISL may be dependent on the collaborative process of the staff of fifth grade teachers, librarians, and academic support teachers of science involved in planning SISL. The sections of this chapter begin with a review of the learning theory of constructivism, the major theorists, and how constructivism has been applied to best practices for science learning in K–12. The following sections include current research on how students learn science as well as on staff collaboration, with a specific focus on the librarian–teacher collaboration research. Constructivism Constructivism in education is the belief that students have to build their own understandings “as a way of coming to know one’s world” (Brooks & Brooks, 1999, p. 23). The concept and ideas that have become known as constructivism have been around for decades (Brooks & Brooks, 1999). Berube (2008) stated that the ideas of constructivism were being used by educators at least a century before the term was used.
  • 26. 15 However, the term itself is thought to have arisen from the reference Piaget (1935/1995) made about his views as a “constructivist” and Bruner’s (1961) reference to discovery in learning as making the student a “constructionist” (p. 26). The most recent edition to current science standards can be found in “A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas” (NRC, 2012). This document is the first step in a revision of the “National Science Education Standards” (NRC, 1996). The framework builds on the foundation of these standards as well as the work presented in two other documents, Science for All Americans (Rutherford & Ahlgren, 1993) and Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993). In addition, two organizations, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) provided support and research included in the development of the framework (NRC, 2012). The framework was designed as a “broad set of expectations for students in science” (NRC, 2012, p. 1), so that by the end of 12th grade, all students would be able to meet the following expectations: • have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science; • possess sufficient knowledge of science and engineering to engage in public discussions on related issues; • are careful consumers of scientific and technological information related to their everyday lives; • are able to continue to learn about science outside school; • and have the skills to enter careers of their choice, including (but not limited to) careers in science, engineering, and technology. (NRC, 2012, p. 1) While the word constructivism is not used in any of the previously mentioned works, the major tenets of constructivism are built into the various standards and benchmarks and considered essential for learning. According to Berube (2008), the main idea of constructivism that children learn through discovery and their own experiences is the
  • 27. 16 most vital piece of learning science. The five main principles of constructivism, as identified by Brooks and Brooks (1999) are as follows: • Teachers see and value their students’ points of view. • Classroom activities challenge students’ suppositions. • Teachers pose problems of emerging relevance. • Teachers build lessons around primary concepts and “big” ideas. • Teachers assess student learning in the context of daily teaching. (pp. ix–x) These principles are then expanded to identify the major practices of constructivist teaching. In order to understand the current perspectives on constructivism it is important to first go back and review the historical underpinnings of today’s ideas and then summarize the current research about constructivism applied specifically to science education (Peters & Stout, 2006). The beginning ideas of constructivism in education have their roots in the ideas of Dewey, as explained in the following section. Dewey and Personal, Meaningful, Student-Centered Education The origins of contemporary constructivism began with the work of Dewey, even though he never used the word constructivism in his writings (Berube, 2008). Dewey (1910/2005a) originally argued in 1916 that school should be like a small community where students learned to work together to solve real problems. While he made no specific mention of a library, Dewey (1910/2005a) regarded the other areas of a school, besides the classroom, as places where children could act more natural and become involved in discussion and working together. In How We Think, Dewey (1910/2005a) put forth a compelling argument for the place of curiosity in school, arguing for curiosity that is developed to become interested in problems raised by making observations, and based on the understanding of facts. Dewey (1910/2005a) directed teachers to work “to keep alive the sacred spark of wonder
  • 28. 17 and to fan the flame that already glows” (p. 29). In a later publication, Democracy and Education, Dewey (1916/2005b) expanded on the idea of curiosity and learning, and stated that while it cannot be expected that children will make original discoveries comparable to the vast discoveries of man, it can be expected that they can make original discoveries that constitute learning for them. In other words, originality should not be viewed from the perfect idea or principle, but rather based on the individual student’s ability and achievement. Dewey (1932/1990) contended that students have four inherent responses that should be capitalized on in school. The first is that of language. Students enjoy talking and can express many ideas through their speech. According to Dewey (1932/1990), language is maybe the best resource that education has because it is the most basic form of expression for children, particularly in social situations. The second resource is the child’s proclivity to making things. Children like to play and, in play, they like to put things together. This creation of things and observing what happens is the third resource of inquiry. By directing this resource, schools can use this inherent characteristic to guide students to creating things that serve to explain new ideas and understandings. The final resource is that of artistic expression. From a young age students like to draw, build, and reshape objects. In some children, particularly younger children, this expression through art is often tied to the need to explain and express ideas. Dewey (1932/1990) argued that utilizing these four resources and using them in school will lead to more learning than in a more traditional setting of the teachers giving information with the students expected to remember it all.
  • 29. 18 Dewey (1916/2005b) argued that students needed experiences that were personal to them and that learning occurred as they searched for solutions to real problems. He believed that a person was only an individual when he or she thinks for oneself (Dewey, 1916/2005b). In order to do that, the learner needed to have time for observing, reflecting, forming, and testing questions to expand and clarify his/her own learning. From Dewey (1932/1990) also came the idea of connecting current school experiences to prior experiences. Dewey (1910/2005a) argued for using prior experiences because to ask a child to solve a problem of which he/she has no prior experience is an act of futility. Students learn best when they are able to make connections to prior learning and the new activities. Dewey (1910/2005a) also pointed out that prior experience is not just what has been learned in school, but should also include many of the out-of-school experiences as well. Dewey (1932/1990) expressed that the child’s life in school needs to connect with the life outside school. Students have scattered and random ideas that can be organized by the teacher when he or she provides appropriate materials to direct the students’ ideas and interests toward the wanted objective (Dewey, 1932/1990). With regards to science and the scientific method, Dewey (1910/2005a) encouraged the use of hands-on learning and discovery learning, and mentioned that this learning did not have to occur in a laboratory or with fancy equipment. However, Dewey (1910/2005a) pointed out that: The entire scientific history of humanity demonstrates that the conditions for complete mental activity will not be obtained till adequate provision is made for the carrying on of activities that actually modify physical conditions, and that books, pictures, and even objects that are passively observed but not manipulated do not furnish the provision required. (p. 82)
  • 30. 19 Dewey’s (1910/2005a) idea was that the students in school should be allowed to work through problems and ideas. He argued that students who are only sitting and receiving information are not apt to be learning much. Dewey (1910/2005a) made a strong argument that applies maybe even more today than it did when he wrote it: While it is not the business of education to prove every statement made, any more than to teach every possible item of information, it is its business to cultivate deep-seated and effective habits of discriminating tested beliefs from mere assertions, guesses, and opinions; to develop a lively, sincere, and open-minded preference for conclusions that are properly grounded, and to ingrain into the individual’s working habits methods of inquiry and reasoning appropriate to the various problems that present themselves. (pp. 23–24) Overall, Dewey’s contributions to constructivism include the idea of tying learning to prior experiences, focusing on students’ natural inclinations of imagination, curiosity, building, and talking to each other, and the idea that students need to be involved in the learning if real education is to take place. Piaget (1935/1995) added to Dewey’s ideas by providing a framework for the different stages of children. Piaget’s ideas as they apply to constructivism are the topic of the next section. Piaget and Developmental Stages Like Dewey, Piaget did not refer to his thoughts about learning as constructivism; others applied the term later. However, many of his ideas are incorporated into the learning theory of constructivism. Piaget is best known for his theory of developmental stages in children (as cited in Llewellyn, 2007). While the stages do not specifically address constructivism, they do provide a strong argument for the provision of hands-on materials, especially as students begin the transition into abstract concepts. However, Piaget clearly stated that students would pass through the stages at different rates. For
  • 31. 20 example, in regards to science education, Piaget (1935/1995) claimed that as a student passed from the concrete operation stage to the propositional stage, if he/she was able to deduce hypotheses and conduct experiments to test them, then it would be essential for the schools to enhance these abilities in order to develop students who experiment and question as well as teachers who place importance on knowledge-gathering and exploration instead of the recitation of isolated facts. It was through this discussion that Piaget (1935/1995) recognized the important link between an experimental attitude and discovery learning. Piaget (1935/1995) realized that children learn in certain ways, depending on what developmental stage they are in at the time. For constructivism, this idea is expressed through the belief that children are bringing different levels of information and understanding based on where they are in regards to cognitive maturity (Berube, 2008). Piaget added several additional important assumptions about learning through his theory of genetic epistemology, “the study of how people acquire knowledge” (Gallagher & Reid, 2002, p. 21). Gallagher and Reid (2002) derived six principles of learning from genetic epistemology: 1. Learning is an internal process of construction; that is children’s own activities determine their reactions to environmental simulation. 2. Learning is subordinated to development; that is competence is a precondition for learning. 3. Children learn not only by observing objects but also by reorganizing on a higher mental level what they learn from coordinating their activities. 4. Growth in knowledge is often sparked by a feedback process that proceeds from questions, contradictions, and consequent mental reorganization. 5. Questions, contradictions, and the consequent reorganization of thought are often stimulated by social interaction. 6. Since awareness (or conscious realization) is a process of reconstruction rather than sudden insight, understanding lags behind action. (pp. 21–22)
  • 32. 21 As viewed from a constructivist perspective, these six principles indicate that learning is a social process in which the student constructs one’s own knowledge based on the objects around one, activities one is provided, and as aided through the opportunity to reconsider and adjust one’s ideas and conclusions. Piaget (1935/1995) clarified that the knowledge was derived not from the actual materials used, but from how those materials were modified. Llewellyn (2007) explained that by including activities in the school that allow for students to participate in active learning, work with other students, and have opportunities to challenge their ideas, true learning occurs. Piaget’s (1935/1995) views of the teacher’s role also reflected constructivist thought. Since constructivist teaching involves providing many opportunities for the students to discover information for themselves, Piaget (1935/1995) believed that the ideal system would have teachers who, rather than directly giving information to the student, would instead direct the student to actively construct his/her own knowledge. In such a school, the teacher’s role becomes one of providing many opportunities and materials, as well as guiding and encouraging the learner. In other words, the teacher would be someone who provides the time, materials, and guidance for children to explore their curiosity and work to solve problems (Piaget, 1935/1995). Piaget (1935/1995) also provided the idea of a teacher using counter examples to help the student move forward in his/her thinking through self-correction. Piaget’s ideas of adaptation, assimilation, accommodation, and equilibration are important concepts in the constructivist framework. Adaptation is the ongoing method by which an individual is able to use the environment to learn something new and, at the same time, be able to adapt as the environment changes (Singer & Revenson, 1996). This
  • 33. 22 adjustment occurs through the processes of accommodation and assimilation. Accommodation is when a child can modify his/her knowledge to incorporate a new idea or new outcome (Gallagher & Reid, 2002). Assimilation is a child’s ability to react to a new concept (Gallagher & Reid, 2002). Equilibration is when the child can self-correct or self-regulate when the situation causes a problem because it contradicts something the student previously thought or identifies a hole in the student’s learning experience (Gallagher & Reid, 2002). It involves finding a balance between accommodation and assimilation (Singer & Revenson, 1996). Also in line with constructivist thinking, both Piaget, and Piaget and Inhelder, put forth the idea that reality is constructed by the individual as he/she brings his/her own meaning to the situation, rather than something sitting there waiting to be found (as cited in Peters & Stout, 2006). According to Gallagher and Reid (2002), this learning principle means that children learn not only by observation, but by taking what they observe and restructuring it into a more abstract learning as they develop a set of concepts and principles. Piaget’s stages of development are important to the overall understanding of a child’s intellectual development. However, equally important are the contributions of Vygotsky. His recognition that an individual’s intellect was dependent upon an adapting of the social culture in which one found oneself added an important piece to how humans learn (as cited in Bruner, 1997). Vygotsky and the Zone of Proximal Development Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist who was the first to take into account that a person’s surrounding culture had an impact on his mental growth (as cited in Cole &
  • 34. 23 Scribner, 1978). Vygotsky theorized that learning is formed socially and transmitted by the culture (John-Steiner & Souberman, 1978). In addition, Vygostky’s work addressed areas that some theorists believed to be missing from Piaget’s theories. “While Piaget stresses biologically supported, universal stages of development, Vygotsky’s emphasis is on the interaction between changing social conditions and the biological substrata of behavior” (John-Steiner & Souberman, 1978, p. 123). Vygotsky also emphasized the importance of play. He believed that play was the main means by which children developed the idea and understandings of culture (John- Steiner & Souberman, 1978). Vygotsky (1978) believed that play was essential for helping children to learn to satisfy certain needs as they continued to mature. Vygotsky (1978) pointed out the idea of perception as an important human characteristic involved in play. Humans are able to see real objects that other animals cannot. He emphasized the importance of imagination and rules involved in play (Vygotsky, 1978). From the point of view of development, creating an imaginary situation can be regarded as a means of developing abstract thought. The corresponding development of rules leads to actions on the basis of which the division between work and play becomes possible. (Vygotsky, 1978, pp. 103–104) Vygotsky provided constructivist education with several important ideas. The most important of these is the idea that the social aspects of learning have significance and influence intellectual development (Berube, 2008). He contended that a person’s increase in knowledge is directly related to the individual’s interaction in social groups. Vygotsky (1978) viewed learning as a social process and placed emphasis on the importance of language and conversation in learning. As such, he was opposed to the idea of the teacher only giving lectures as the sole expected source of learning (John- Steiner & Souberman, 1978). Vygotsky believed that students who are involved in
  • 35. 24 discussion and feedback with teachers and peers would be able to take their learning to more advanced levels (Berube, 2008). Vygotsky developed the theory of the zone of proximal development (Peters & Stout, 2006). In the zone of proximal development theory, students have two levels at which learning can occur: independent and assisted (Llewellyn, 2007). The first is that level the child has reached as a result of previously completed levels. This level indicates what a child can complete or learn without help. However, it is at the second level, what Vygotsky (1978) called “the level of potential development” when students are able to continue learning a concept with the help of a teacher or further-advanced peers. The difference between these levels is what Vygotsky called “the zone of proximal development” (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86). It is this zone in which Vygotsky suggested the best learning would occur. Rather than settling for what the student can do on his/her own, it is most beneficial to advance his/her learning through the assistance and support of a teacher or more advanced students. From this also comes the idea of scaffolding (Llewellyn, 2007; Peters & Stout, 2006). These two concepts work together to provide the student with the ability to learn more with the support of his peers and teacher. According to Berube (2008), Vygotsky placed emphasis on the role that social context had on cognition. Therefore, some of Vygotsky’s ideas have been identified as social constructivist. However, the individual most often associated with social constructivism, especially as it applies to science, is Bruner. His ideas about how the entire culture that an individual belongs to affects education are the topic of the next section.
  • 36. 25 Bruner and Social Constructivism While Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky all placed some level of importance on the social aspect of learning, it was Bruner in the 1960s who introduced the idea of social constructivism (Bruner, 1961). His ideas go beyond the idea of cooperative learning into the idea of how learning is affected by the culture in which one is educated. So, while Bruner (1977) agreed that learning occurred best (or at all) when the individual had some part in constructing or discovering the information, he went a step further and claimed that how the culture interprets and presents information has a bearing on how the individual interprets the knowledge. In this section, Bruner’s views on the importance of the social aspect of learning and how it ties into science education will be reviewed. Bruner’s first book about how students learn was a printing of his report as chairman of the Cape Cod meeting in 1959 where scientists, teachers, and professors met to discuss K–12 science education and how it could be improved (Bruner, 1977). Even at this time, he expressed the importance of the need to educate all children to their full potential as a way of keeping the country strong even as technology and society became more complex (Bruner, 1977). This idea has even more importance now in the 21st century, as all individuals need to be able to understand and deal with the massive societal issues and technology advances. Much of Bruner’s thoughts and ideas have to do with the presentation of curriculum. Bruner (1977) added to or contributed three important ideas about curriculum. First, he believed that a child could learn any subject at any age so long as it was presented in an age-appropriate manner, or as he called it, “the child’s way of viewing things” (p. 33). He argued that the earlier topics were introduced, the easier it
  • 37. 26 would be to expand on these ideas in later grades. One of the main ideas that Bruner (1977) emphasized is that subject content should be based on the main concepts that are essential to an understanding of the subject. By looking at the Texas state curriculum for science, it becomes apparent that this idea has been implemented as student standards build from year to year on several main concepts, such as cycles, patterns, systems, and models (Texas Education Agency, 2010). However, Bruner (1977) also pointed out that while it is important to present the essential and underlying ideas of a subject, such as science, it should be done in such a way that a student is able to make the connections for him- or herself. Bruner (1996) explained this further by declaring that knowledge that the student has discovered on his/her own is of more use because he or she can apply and relate the new information to his or her prior experiences. Based on this conclusion, Bruner (1996) declared that a student could be taught any subject in some form that was “honest,” although he admitted that he left “honest” undefined (p. xii). It is the struggle to figure out how to teach these concepts to students in a way that is understandable at the time and lead to greater learning later that is a primary issue in constructivist teaching. At the same time, it is important to link the present activities with the students’ prior knowledge (Berube, 2008). Bruner (1977) determined that there were three processes involved in learning that occurred at essentially the same time, and identified these three processes as “acquisition, transformation, and evaluation” (p. 48). The first, acquisition, is the acquiring of new information. This new information is often contradicting or overriding a previously held idea. Transformation is when a person takes learning and modifies it to
  • 38. 27 make it fit new activities. Finally, evaluation is when a person determines if the new information that comes from the transformation is adequate to meet the need. Bruner’s (1996) third idea about curriculum, actually education in general, is what has become known as social constructivism and what he referred to as a “psycho-cultural approach to education” (p. 13). Bruner (1996) believed that the problems of education and the underlying psychology of a culture are closely related. He believed that questions about how a culture determines meaning, how a culture defines the idea of self and group, how language is acquired and all mental activity is dependent on the culture in which it occurs. He summed it up thusly, “Learning, remembering, talking, imagining: all of them are made possible by participating in a culture” (Bruner, 1996, p. xi). Bruner (1996) put forth nine tenets of his “psycho-cultural approach to education” (p. 13). The following paragraphs will explain each of these tenets, its role in social constructivism, and how it fits into the present ideas about K–12 science education. The first tenet is the perspectival tenet. This principle is the idea that the meaning of anything “is relative to the perspective or frame of reference in terms of which it is construed” (Bruner, 1996, p. 13). For example, Halloween has different connotations depending on family, religious, and cultural views. This principle is a particularly important one for science and constructivism. For science, it is important because it must be always kept in mind, as curriculum has to be updated to keep pace with the latest scientific findings. As for constructivism, it is important because it is a reminder to educators to be aware of the various perspectives in the classroom that may affect the information that the students construct.
  • 39. 28 The second tenet is the constraints tenet. Basically this principle points out two important constraints to making meaning. First, Bruner (1996) contended that as a group humans have evolved in such a way that an individual cannot think of “Self” in a current state without being influenced by the past (p. 15). Second, Bruner (1996) believed that humans are constrained by limits of language and symbol systems that are available to the mind. The third tenet is the constructivist tenet. The reality that any person constructs is in some respect influenced by the traditions and the culture in which he/she is found (Bruner, 1996). With this tenet, Bruner (1996) emphasized an important objective of education as a whole. A goal of education should be to aid students in learning the traditions and culture in which they are located, providing them the ability to adjust to the world they live in and to provide them tools to be able to create change when needed (Bruner, 1996). The fourth tenet is the interactional tenet. This principle is the idea that learning is passed on through interaction with others in the culture. Bruner (1996) saw the idea of the classroom being a community of learners as a direct reflection of this particular tenet, with the teacher as the director. He emphasized with this tenet that whatever else the cultural–psychological approach is, the concentration is with viewing learning as a process by which individuals learn from interacting together and only through mutual involvement rather than just being told information. Bruner (1996) provided a strong argument for changing the school culture as a whole. On his views of schools that work as a community of learners, he contended that what was known at the time about learning
  • 40. 29 was that schools that used student participation, collaboration, and were student-directed had more successful students (Bruner, 1996). The fifth tenet is the externalization tenet. The focus of this tenet is the idea that it is not enough to think about ideas; the ideas need to be expressed as something more permanent that can be shared with the culture. One of the main ideas behind constructivism is that students be allowed to work and share ideas. It is the resulting products from these sessions of working together that give these ideas the permanence that Bruner (1996) discussed. The sixth tenet is the instrumentalism tenet. With this principle, Bruner (1996) discussed the ideas of talent and opportunity. The main point he made is that regardless of how a person is educated it is going to have consequences in that individual’s later life. He raised the question of whether or not current educational standards do enough to make sure that the talents of all students are encouraged. Bruner (1996) also pointed to the struggle that continues today with providing all students with an equal chance to reach their full potential and to have the same opportunities to excel and grow. The seventh tenet is the institutional tenet. Schools act as an institution as they prepare the students to become productive members of society. The problem is when the school is at odds regarding the best way to pass along the culture of the society. Bruner (1996) closed the section on this tenet with an argument that has bearing on any current educational trends, and one that this dissertation serves to address. In order to improve education, schools need teachers who are involved in and stand behind the proposed reforms (Bruner, 1996).
  • 41. 30 The eighth tenet is the tenet of identity and self-esteem. This tenet deals with education’s role in the development of a person’s self or identity. Bruner (1996) stated that if school is going to be used as an entry into a culture, then it is important to constantly be reassessing what the school is doing to help the student gain an understanding of his/her own abilities, what Bruner described as “his sense of agency” and at the same time making sure that the student has a realistic view of his/her ability to cope with his/her world both during the school years and after or, “his self-esteem” (p. 39). This tenet is connected to constructivism because it directly links to helping a student by encouraging his strengths and helping him to overcome or cope with his weaknesses by guiding him to construct his learning. The final tenet is the narrative tenet. This tenet, maybe more than any of the others, directly addresses the topic of the current study. It is the idea that story can be used to help with meaning-making and identity-building. Bruner (1996) specifically referenced science in this section as one area of education that could benefit greatly from having narratives used to help make science seem more human, more interesting, and more doable for K–12 students. Bruner (1996) argued for “narrative as a mode of thinking, as a structure for organizing our knowledge, and as a vehicle in the process of education, particularly in science education” (p. 119). One of the current objectives in science education reform addresses the idea of combining literature and science as a way of enhancing both subjects for students. Since his early days as the chairman of the 1959 Cape Cod meeting, Bruner (1996) had made important observations about science education. He was personally influenced by the ideas of Karplus, who was an important person in the science reform
  • 42. 31 movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Bruner (1996) took inspiration from Karplus because Bruner believed that Karplus understood that science was not something sitting and waiting to be found, but rather that science was something that was constructed in the mind of the individual. Bruner (1996) knew that science could be fun, should be fun, and that students would enjoy learning science if the proper methods were used. He believed that science from a young age should be about learning how science is made, rather than only being drilled on what is already known or, as he called it, finished science (p.127). He believed that science classes needed to be more like what real scientists do including humor, the wild questions, the speculations, and the varied and sometimes odd ways of approaching a problem. In other words, social constructivism should be the norm in science classes, not the exception. Bruner contributed much to the field of science education. He provided strong arguments for the need to view learning through a social constructivist lens. He also raised important points about curriculum and how it should be taught. However, the subject of constructivism with regards to science education would not be complete without including a discussion of von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism. von Glasersfeld and Radical Constructivism One of the most recent contributors to science education and constructivism is von Glasersfeld and his idea of radical constructivism. His contributions to science education in the 1980s and 1990s served to shine a light on several issues and questioned the current situation at the time (as cited in Tobin, 2007). Von Glasersfeld (2005) claimed he first used the term radical constructivism in 1974 because of what he considered to be the incomplete use of Piaget’s work. He felt that many developmental
  • 43. 32 psychologists were using Piaget’s ideas on constructivism, but were not delving into the epistemological connections. According to von Glasersfeld (2004), constructivism serves to view knowledge not as what may or may not exist, but instead on what has been proven. In other words, it is based on the idea that all thinking, language, and learning are developed for an individual from his/her experiences and that anything outside these experiences cannot be included (von Glasersfeld, 2004). In his opinion, this view of constructivism has four important implications for education. First, he contended there is a major distinction in certain educational procedures (2004). Some are geared to what he referred to as training and others towards teaching. Training is when students are asked to memorize and learn through repetition. Teaching, on the other hand, is geared to eliciting understanding. He acknowledged that both have their place in education (2001). However, training should be used selectively and only for the appropriate tasks, such as learning the days of the week or the correct order of the months of the year (von Glasersfeld, 2001). Next, von Glasersfeld (2001) further stated that research and education should be focused on trying to figure out what is going on in the students’ heads rather than what they are actually saying. For example, many words in any particular subject may have specialized meanings about which, while the teacher may understand, the students often have different ideas. It is important to uncover these ideas in order to avoid misconceptions and to find ways to guide the students to the accepted scientific definitions and understandings (von Glasersfeld, 2001). Moreover, the teachers will know that they cannot recite the information and expect students to learn. There is an understanding students have to build their own
  • 44. 33 knowledge and, as such, language is not the means of transmitting information, but rather a tool to help direct the students’ construction of knowledge. Teaching a concept should not be the teacher presenting the facts; rather, it should involve activities that will get students doing their own thinking about the particular concept (von Glasersfeld, 2001). It is important that teachers encourage students to talk about their thinking as a way of reflection and as a way of clarifying understanding. At the same time, it is important that teachers know the subject matter well enough that they can produce a number of situations so that the desired concepts can be evolved. Finally, students’ mistakes and answers that are unexpected should be regarded as ways to glean how, at that point in their learning, they are organizing the information. Teachers should avoid saying that a student’s work is wrong. Any effort by students needs to be acknowledged in an effort to maintain interest and motivation. Most children have put some thought into an answer and it is a reflection of their thinking at the time, even if it is not the correct answer (von Glasersfeld, 2001). Overall, these four implications, when considered in science classrooms, have the ability to change for the science education of all students for the better. While some would argue that there is no time to conduct the kind of learning considered by von Glasersfeld (2001) to be true teaching, he contended that time spent on a few worthwhile experiments can lead students to greater learning, provide better experiences for them to relate to in the future, and “they will have learned to think” (p. 12). Future learning will be more productive, students will have more motivation, and they will be able to apply what they have learned about learning to all subjects, thereby improving overall learning.
  • 45. 34 In summary, Dewey introduced the idea that learning is personal and should be student-centered. Piaget added to this understanding through his developmental stages and genetic epistemology. Vygotsky then provided the ideas of zone of proximal development and scaffolding. Bruner provided deeper understanding of the social aspect of learning that the earlier theorists had alluded to. Finally, von Glasersfeld explained what are the most important implications of constructivist thought as applied to education. The next section includes specifics of how their views have been combined to apply constructivism to the field of science education. Constructivism in Science Education Berube (2008) believed that science was a subject that for students to truly learn it required teachers to use methods that would enable students to be independent thinkers, able to question ideas and construct their own knowledge. In today’s science classroom, the standards provided by different organizations all point to constructivism as a necessary component for science education (NRC, 1996; Rutherford & Ahlgren, 1990). Peters and Stout (2006) summarized the use of constructivism as the teacher’s ability to know the standards, her individual students, and then being able to construct lessons that meet the needs of all of them. Berube (2008) pointed out that those who teach using constructivist methods do so because they believe that in order for a child to truly understand something the child must create his/her own cognitive, mental, moral, and social knowledge. In order to help students with developing this new knowledge, it is vital to take into account their prior experiences in order to build new science knowledge (Cobern, 1993). So, in constructivism, learning occurs when a student makes a change to his prior
  • 46. 35 knowledge by replacing it, adding to it or modifying it (Cobern 1993). As Tobin and Tippins (1993) pointed out, science knowledge cannot exist without the individuals who believe it. Rather, science is explanations mutually agreed upon about the events and phenomena found in the world. Brooks and Brooks (1999) proposed several “guiding principles of constructivism” (p. 33). These include finding problems of importance to students, designing learning around a set of key concepts, including and valuing the students’ viewpoints, and using assessment to improve learning. Berube (2008) expanded and added to this list with the main components of constructivism as applied to science education. These principles and components are as follows: • Concept formation: The process through which individuals develop understandings. It is a constant process and using students’ prior experiences helps them to relate the concepts from school to their home and cultural concepts. • Cooperative learning: Based on the ideas from Dewey (1932/1990) about social learning; its use in the subject of science allows for various opinions and ideas to help with solving problems, making hypotheses, and making new discoveries. • Alternative assessment: Using assessment to address the higher-level thinking skills. These include performance-based testing and project-based assignments as well as use of rubrics, journals, portfolios, advanced questioning, and concept maps.
  • 47. 36 • Hands-on/active learning: In science education, this involves students performing experiments and working with the tools and objects of the different science topics. • Student-centered learning: “Research shows that students learn more when they have some ownership in the learning process: the basis of constructivism” (Berube, 2008, p. 30). In order for a science classroom to be considered a constructivist classroom, all of these components and principles must be incorporated as often as possible. For over 100 years, the learning of science meant the learning of facts. However, according to Good, Wandersee, and St. Julien (1993), there are several reasons why this rote learning of facts is not effective. For starters, memorization is not very useful or lasting, scientific information is not concrete and often changes—sometimes even contradicting early learning—and learning facts is a lower level of knowledge than understanding the overarching big ideas. In addition, teaching should not be the delivery of knowledge. Rather, it should be a sharing between the teacher and the learner that is beneficial to both and that activates the growing of knowledge and understanding (Good et al., 1993). Also, facts by themselves may be too separated or unconnected and cannot by themselves allow the learner to actually gain science understanding (Good et al., 1993). Furthermore, facts are only the concepts or labels used by individuals to think about science (Good et al., 1993), but deep learning only occurs when these new concepts are connected to those concepts already contained in memory. From these concepts are derived constructions. Constructions come from taking a number of concepts that are
  • 48. 37 related through embedded connections (Good et al., 1993). From these constructions, a learner can begin to understand the principles of science that can then be grouped into theories, which are the highest ranking. Using theories is how individuals “describe, predict, and explain large ‘chunks’ of the natural world” (Good et al., 1993, p. 76). In constructivist classrooms, teachers are still in charge. However, instead of providing all the answers, the teachers present the students with problems, asking them to work out a solution, which then places the importance on the process rather than the final answer and helps to make the learning clear in the students’ minds. The emphasis is on students working out their own understandings rather than the teacher simply giving them information to memorize (Berube, 2008). This does not, however, mean that teachers are allowing students to continue to believe wrong theories or information. As Tobin and Tippins (1993) pointed out, it is still the teacher’s responsibility to ensure that students are learning what is considered by society at the time to be credible and appropriate. By applying the theories of Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner, and von Glasersfeld, a constructivist science classroom is one that is centered on the students and allows them to explore different ideas. According to Berube (2008), constructivism does not provide what to teach or how to teach, but rather serves as encouragement to educators to guide students’ learning through their instructional practices and classroom environment. In addition, the teacher provides a wide range of activities centered on helping the students to expand and develop the language and understanding of scientific concepts (Peters & Stout, 2006). These activities include the use of real-world problems and situations that allow the students to use their prior experiences to construct their own
  • 49. 38 learning through interaction with other students (Applefield, Huber, & Moallem, 2000). According to Yore (2004), The pedagogical structure for learning in an interactive-constructivist model is shared by the learner and the teacher. The basic constructivist assumptions about the role of prior knowledge, the plausibility of alternative ideas, and the resiliency of these ideas are preserved in an interactive-constructivist perspective; however professional wisdom, the accountability of public education, and the priorities of schools mediate decisions about what and how to teach in the science classroom. (p. 85) While constructivism is considered to be the current best practice for teaching science, there are other important issues being addressed in the research as to exactly how students, particularly elementary students, are best able to learn sciences. The following section serves as an overview of the most prevalent trends and issues in teaching science to elementary students. These ideas include cooperative learning as an essential teaching practice, understanding and building on students’ misconceptions, the use of simulations and/or models, the growing research about the connections between science and literacy, and questions about what should be taught and when. Current Research on Science Education of Elementary Students Since near the beginning of the American public education system, there have been those arguing for science instruction as an important component of the curriculum. In addition, many have long pointed out that PK–5 science is necessary for laying the foundation of science knowledge necessary for future science learning that is essential for success in the 21st century (Century et al., 2008). From the beginning, the focus for what kind of science curriculum should be included was focused on student-centered, hands-on, real-life experiences. However, what actually occurs in most public schools is far from these expectations (Century et al., 2008).
  • 50. 39 The current research on science education of elementary students is wide and, at times, somewhat limited. For example, in a review of effective programs for elementary science, Slavin, Lake, Hanley, and Thurston (2012) found that only 17 studies met their criteria, one of which was that it had to take place in an elementary school. Slavin et al. reported that studies of experiments with alternative science programs were almost non- existent. Research in science education for past 20 years has focused on how students conceive of science, and been too focused on the individual and not taken into account “factors such as sociocultural context and the nature of language” (Feldman, 2004, p. 141). While much research occurred in the 1990s, the research of the past several years has been more on specific case studies or reviews of older literature. However, there has been some research done on several key components of constructivist concepts, as well as in the area of combining science and literacy. The following section begins by an examination of the research about science learning in general, and then a review of the following key areas: the idea of a learning cycle, research on cooperative learning in science classes, students’ science misconceptions, use of technology, depth of understanding of elementary students, and findings on the science–literacy connection. The How and Why of Science Learning The current ideas about science learning are centered on a growing need for a scientifically literate society. According to Bencze and Alsop (2009), scientific literacy involves four broad categories: 1. Products education, which means to develop a working understanding of the important principles of science and technology.
  • 51. 40 2. HPSST education, which means to develop a working understanding of the history, philosophy, and sociology of science and technology. 3. Knowledge building, which means learning through student-directed inquiry. 4. WISE activism, which means being able to address the wellbeing of individuals, societies, and environments. Bencze and Alsop (2009) claimed it was apparent that in most North American schools the focus was on only one of the categories—products education—to the great detriment of the other three. Furthermore, Conderman and Woods (2008) presented a compelling argument when they questioned the lack of science being taught in school, particularly in elementary school. They argued that science is much more than memorizing facts or passing multiple-choice tests; it is not even just experiments (Conderman & Woods, 2008). However, as reported by the NRC (2012), a number of organizations are working to change the course of science education in the United States. This report is considered the first step in what is hoped to eventually bring about changes to state standards that will focus on fewer concepts and a more complete sequence of learning for K–12 science. As a precursor to the framework, Michaels et al. (2008) organized the idea of becoming scientifically literate around four “strands” (p. 19). These strands are as follows: • Strand 1: Understanding scientific explanations. In order to be proficient in science, students need to know, use, and interpret scientific explanations of the natural world. Within this strand is the understanding that students will have to learn certain facts, laws, principles, and theories.
  • 52. 41 • Strand 2: Generating scientific evidence. Proficiency in science entails generating and evaluating evidence as part of building and refining models and explanations of the natural world. This strand includes students being able to design investigations and models, as well as use the appropriate tools to conduct and evaluate the information. Students need opportunities to observe and use models and representations in science. • Strand 3: Reflecting on scientific knowledge. This strand includes gaining an understanding of the history of science and also how new scientific knowledge is generated and revised. • Strand 4: Participating productively in science. According to Michaels et al. (2008), “Science is a social enterprise governed by a core set of values and norms for participation” (p. 21). This strand is often overlooked in education, but considered a vital component, especially in the attempts to get underrepresented groups of students more involved in advanced science learning. In order to advance science learning, teachers need to provide science investigations that are based on meaningful issues, and through which students are provided ongoing support and instruction from the teachers (Michaels et al., 2008). However, effective learning requires that students take control of their learning (Pratt & Pratt, 2004). Students must be able to use scientific knowledge in their day-to-day lives. They also must be able to do science. This means being able to participate in activities comparable to the activities of actual scientists (Feldman, 2004). The importance of
  • 53. 42 learning science has been established and currently, the concern is more about how to teach science. The NRC (as cited in Pratt & Pratt, 2004) summarized what is currently known about how students learn science: 1. Students build new knowledge and understanding on what they already know and believe. This concept is further expanded on in the section about misconceptions. 2. Students formulate new knowledge by modifying and refining their current concepts and adding new concepts to what they already know. 3. Understanding science is more than knowing facts; it involves placing and retrieving them in a conceptual framework. In order to advance student learning, it is important to scaffold new ideas in a way that helps students to increase their scientific understandings. It is also important to involve the children both with what is being learned and in tracking their progress. 4. Learning is mediated by the social environment in which learners interact with others. 5. The ability to apply knowledge to novel situations (transfer of learning) is affected by the degree to which students learn with understanding in a variety of contexts. In addition, Harlen, Elstgeest, and Jelly (2001) provided several general strategies to use with children to improve science learning. These strategies are providing motivation, asking the right questions, use of and expanding from children’s ideas, using investigations, helping children to learn the basic science process skills of observation
  • 54. 43 and communication, and finally, assessing students through formative assessment, feedback, and self-assessment. One way to meet all of these criteria is through the use of a learning cycle. In the 21st century, the development of learning cycles most often used in science has been developed from the original three- and five-phase cycles. The current cycles have only elaborated on or extended from these two earlier cycles (Marek, 2009). The theoretical foundations of the learning cycle currently consist of “(a) nature of science, (b) purposes and standards of school science, and (c) constructivist learning theory” (Marek, 2009, p. 141). According to Yore (2004), many of the common science programs in K–12 are based on “an interactive-constructivist modified learning cycle (engage, explore, consolidate, and assess)” (p. 84). A research-based instructional model includes five phases: engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration, and evaluation (Pratt & Pratt, 2004). This is known as the 5E model. In the district used for this current study, STEMscopes, an online science curriculum for K–12 that provides hands-on activities, evaluations, tools for correct misunderstandings, activities for expanding learning, and many teacher resources (Rice University, 2012) is being used in the district’s Title I schools and is based in the 5E instructional model. In addition, the district’s curriculum scope and sequence utilize the same model for science instruction. Additionally, a new framework has emerged that places emphasis on the integration of science content and processes. This integration is a move away from the previous distinction that had been made about keeping science content and science processes separate (Michaels et al., 2008). It has been discovered that true science
  • 55. 44 learning includes learning the content and the appropriate processes at the same time (Michaels et al., 2008). The fact that concepts and processes are co-dependent has significance for the types of activities children need to have in school and the role that the teacher has in these activities (Harlen et al., 2001). The most recent research in science deals with identifying core concepts (NRC, 2012), and then using learning progressions to build on these concepts through the school years (Corcoran, Mosher, & Rogat, 2009; Michaels et al., 2008; NRC, 2012; Pratt, 2012). While still in the research stages, the idea of the learning progressions is that students need to work with these core concepts for an extended period of time, building onto the knowledge base progressively through a number of years (NRC, 2012). While Texas is not a state that has adopted the Common Core Standards, it can be seen that the most recent research has been applied to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) as it has students moving through each grade to increasingly more complicated information with a limited number of overarching concepts, such as matter and energy and earth and space (Texas Education Agency, 2010). In summary, in order for children to learn science, it is important for them to have opportunities to develop ideas based on evidence and that are shared by the world they live in (Harlen et al., 2001). Through ongoing work with the Framework for K-12 (NRC, 2012) and continued research on learning progressions, the future of science education for K–12 students has the potential to be vastly improved. However, the research from the past several years has also provided several other key components to effective science teaching.
  • 56. 45 Cooperative Learning and Collaboration One way to best facilitate learning is through cooperative groups. Cooperative learning has long been regarded as an effective learning method for students (Dewey, 1990). According to Berube (2008), students involved in cooperative learning gain better critical thinking skills, have better attitudes about science, can collaborate more successfully, have a healthier mental attitude, and perceive grades to be more just. According to Michaels et al. (2008), communication and collaboration are important components of effective science teaching and learning. However, with science terminology, it is important to make sure students are clear on the scientific use of words as opposed to the everyday usage. One example is the use of scientific argumentation in the classroom, a concept that is vastly different than what is generally thought of by argumentation. Science argumentation is used to gain understanding and involves mutual participation. It is also important that the teacher allow time for talk in different settings including group, small group, and partners and that the teacher is able to guide student talk through a variety of methods such as restating a response, asking students to add to responses, encouraging further information and explanations, and allowing wait-time between responses and answers (Michaels et al., 2008). Group discussions can also play an important role in helping students learn by providing talk-time with their peers in order to answer questions, gain clear meanings of science concepts, discuss and clarify misunderstandings and differences of opinion, create new questions and find ways to investigate them, and find solutions to problems (Tobin & Tippins, 1993). Discussions in science classrooms are important as a means for discovering
  • 57. 46 students’ thinking and misconceptions. These discussions also help to add to students’ overall science learning (Winokur, Worth, & Heller-Winokur, 2009). The next section includes a review of current research on the idea of misconceptions and the role they can play in science learning. Misconceptions in Science It is important to use children’s ideas about science and use them to lead to more scientific ideas. How teachers can influence learning and help students’ ideas to become more scientific will always depend on first learning the ideas that children hold. While there cannot be strict steps to follow; research has shown that student ideas usually are unscientific for one of the following reasons: They may be formed from limited experience. Be influenced by perceptions rather than logic. Take account of only one of several relevant features. Result from faulty reasoning or use of nonscientific process skills. Be specific to one context. Indicate a misunderstanding of words. (Harlen et al., 2001, p. 60) It is dependent on the teacher to try to uncover which of the above reasons has led to the student’s misconception and then work from there to lead the student to the appropriate concept. In order to lead the child to the more accurate conception, the teacher must understand what steps the student must take and what scaffolding is necessary to help the student (Olson, 2009). Exploration is not enough on its own. In order to move from their current understandings to the new ideas, it is important that the teacher provide the necessary scaffolding (Olson, 2009). Children’s misconceptions should be viewed as their attempts to understand the natural world and be used to guide them to more scientific understandings. “What we call misconceptions may be necessary stepping-stones on a path to more accurate
  • 58. 47 knowledge” (Michaels et al., 2008, p. 44). In order for students to develop a deeper scientific understanding, students must be able to develop an extensive set of connected concepts that continues to grow and deepen towards the accepted knowledge of the particular science field (Michaels et al., 2008). There are three basic types of conceptual change that include getting students to expand a current concept, rearranging the concepts that are already held through either combining or modifying those previously held, or expanding to higher levels of understanding. In order to ensure appropriate concept development for students, teachers need to have a strong understanding of the content, a well-thought unit progression, and must be able to uncover student thinking through the appropriate use of questions and wait-time (Olson, 2009). Guzzetti (2000) conducted a literature review of research that looked at students’ science misconceptions and the strategies that have been used to attempt to alter these ideas. Guzzetti (2000) presented a review of the findings from many quantitative and qualitative studies and then presented the findings that had not been covered as much by others. These findings that have applications at the elementary level are as follows: • Refutational text is not sufficient to produce conceptual change for individuals. Many students even after reading a passage that specifically stated the misconception and then provided information that indicated why the conception was incorrect often would not adapt their thinking without a discussion that required them to find the scientific idea in text and/or verbally explain the concept. • Discussion of refutational text must be teacher-guided and text-supported. Students with misconceptions often have to be asked to find the text that supports the science concepts, as well as to specifically find the sections of text that refute the common misconceptions. • Only refutational text shows long-term effects. When students were tested for a month or more after using the refutational text were more likely to not return to the misconception. Students that had viewed demonstrations, participated in discussions and read nonrefutational text, as time passed, were more likely
  • 59. 48 to return to the misconceptions. (Guzzetti, 2000, pp. 92–94) With regard to students misconceptions, researchers tend to agree that how the teachers view these misconceptions and the steps that the teachers take can have a lasting impact on the students’ abilities to overcome these misconceptions, as well as to provide the basis for significant concept-building in future science learning. As technology improves, it is one more area that can have an impact on science education. The next section contains discussion of the latest research on technology use in science education. Use of Technology Another important piece to consider with regard to the stations is the use of technology. As the capabilities of technology continue to expand, so too does the potential for scientific experiments, simulations, explanations, and models. According to Srinivasan and Crooks (2005), technology can provide individualized instruction, immediate feedback, and engaging simulations in ways that allow students to learn and have fun. However, there are several points to consider when deciding whether to use technology and, if so, what is needed and how to use it most effectively for students. Evagorou et al. (2009) discussed a study conducted with a group of elementary students to determine what the impact of simulations would be on the students’ ideas of system thinking. After providing a brief explanation of system thinking, the process of the study was presented. The study involved seven thinking skills as they related to system thinking. Evagorou et al.’s (2009) findings have potential implications for the science investigation stations. There are certain stations that provide students an opportunity to create simple simulations and the technology station may provide some online simulations. Evagorou et al. (2009) provided important research consideration for
  • 60. 49 understanding the skills to focus on, as well as providing support for the need to establish clear learning objectives for various learning levels. In a review of best practices, Slavin et al. (2012) found that all five of the studies they reviewed dealing with technology had promising outcomes. They noted that the programs had similar important characteristics. These included scientific processes illustrated through video or computer graphics, use of technology tools for active inquiry, had students working in groups integrated with the technology and teaching, and strived to make the science content interesting and relevant. In an early study about science and technology, de Jong and van Joolingen (1998) looked at computer simulations as a way to enhance discovery learning in science. Through a review of studies, de Jong and van Joolingen (1998) determined that there had been no strong indication that simulations would improve learning. However, de Jong and van Joolingen believed that the problems could stem from inherent problems in discovery learning in general, rather than specifically the use of simulations. One problem is with students being able to generate hypotheses. The problem with generating hypotheses is that it can be inherently difficult; it may be difficult to do from the gathered data. This difficulty then led many students to stay with their original ideas, regardless of the evidence, and to some students developing hypotheses based on reasons that do not lead to the best conclusions. Another problem can be in how experiments are designed. Students often only designed experiments to confirm what they believed, that did not gather enough data for drawing conclusions, that were limited in scope, or that did not test a hypothesis. de Jong and van Joolingen believed that these problems could be overcome by carefully designing simulations that provide access to necessary knowledge
  • 61. 50 as well as various supports for generating hypotheses, designing experiments, making predictions, and helping with planning and monitoring the learning process. In a more recent study, Srinivasan and Crooks (2005) mentioned a valid concern that any simulation used needs to be realistic. The teacher must make sure that the simulation is an honest portrayal of the science and of scientists. Simulations also should be carefully reviewed to ensure that they are not going to cause any misconceptions. Finally, it is important to make sure that simulations are not being used to take the place of hands-on activities. The authors concluded that in order to determine how or if multimedia can be effective in science learning, there is a need for more research (Srinivasan & Crooks, 2005). Edelson (as cited in Degennaro, 2009) believed that technological innovations, including computers, probes, and handheld devices, had three major functions for the design of science learning environments. These functions are to faithfully demonstrate legitimate science, to present the science in new and interactive ways, and to provide ways for teachers to guide the students to construct their own scientific understandings rather than the more traditional model of the teacher presenting all the information. As the technology improves, the opportunities for using technology to engage and educate students also improve. Advancements in graphics and interactivity allow students and teachers to view, learn, and be able to explain abstract science concepts (Degennaro, 2009). In the most compelling argument, Degennaro (2009) pointed out that actual scientists use many different modes to represent scientific concepts to help them gain understanding. Therefore, the learning environments of the students should allow them
  • 62. 51 opportunities to use models to visualize and explain scientific phenomenon. While he acknowledged that even though there has yet to be seen what the impact will be, educational technology has become a significant support of teaching and learning in science (Degennaro, 2009). Depth of Understanding Michaels et al. (2008) noted, “Cognitive researchers have become much more sophisticated in probing children’s capabilities. In the process, they have uncovered much richer stores of knowledge and reasoning skills than they expected to find in young children” (p. 6). The reasoning skills of all children, regardless of background or socioeconomic levels, are much more advanced than had previously been believed. According to Michaels et al. (2008), research in studying children’s cognitive abilities has revealed that they have much deeper knowledge and skills of reasoning than had been expected. By building on the experiences, interest, and knowledge that students bring to school, teachers can improve current science learning as well as provide important skills and knowledge to be utilized by the students in future science learning (Michaels et al., 2008). All children come to school with a common understanding of several science domains. In order to improve science teaching, it is important to recognize that all students come to school with already sophisticated reasoning skills that need to be supported and built upon (Michaels et al., 2008). Metz (2011) presented the idea that even young children can understand more complex science than individuals often give them credit for, and argued for a need to improve science education beginning at the elementary level. Metz’s five instructional design principles are “aimed at maximizing the power of children’s scientific inquiry” (p.
  • 63. 52 68) and point directly to the heart of what the science investigation stations are meant to do. These instructional design principles entail using scaffolding and inquiry into real scientific issues, keeping the teaching of scientific process skills in the context of science, providing appropriate group sizes as well as structure for guiding student learning, and eventually allowing academically equivalent pairs of students to design their own science investigations (Metz, 2011). Science and Literacy Connections Language arts need to be included in the science classroom because of what is now known about how language affects thinking. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are important to the learning of science, but students need opportunities to present, view, and interpret science information as well (Yore, 2004). “As students read they engage in processes common to science and literacy, such as predicting, generating questions, summarizing understandings, and using data to draw conclusions” (Yopp & Yopp, 2006, p. 22). Pratt and Pratt (2004) claimed that research on science education and reading has great potential so long as it only guides instruction, rather than trying to prescribe a set of lessons. Zales and Unger (2008) argued that trade books, when carefully selected, can be used to introduce science concepts, provide important background information, reemphasize a previous hands-on lesson, and at the same time support and enhance important science and literacy process skills. Trade books can be used in science inquiry to help refine questions, get ideas, add to background knowledge, and evaluate their answers with those found in books (Morrison & Young, 2008). Smolkin and Donovan (2004) presented four strategies for fostering scientific answers during a read-aloud:
  • 64. 53 • Encouraging speculation • Assisting children in transferring knowledge • Stressing scientific terms • Making science tangible (pp. 310-311) Students’ hands-on science can be supported through the information found in nonfiction texts. Pappas, Varelas, Barry, and Rife (2004) contended that nonfiction science books have many things in common with the texts that scientists use in inquires in the real world. In addition to providing information and extensions of the hands-on activities, the nonfiction books also provide text that reflects the language that scientists use in reading, writing, and talking (Pappas et al., 2004). By sharing information books, teachers are allowing students the opportunity to compare the information from their experiments, discovery lessons, or other explorations to those concepts found in the books (Pappas et al., 2004). However, it is important in reading the story aloud that the students have opportunities to express their ideas, make comments, and ask questions (Pappas et al., 2004). Pappas et al. (2004) also discussed making connections between the text being read and another text. Text can refer to any other written material but also any other media, previous conversations, and other investigations. These connections can also include references to possible future events. These links between texts are important because they help to show the connections students are making across themes and units and they help to uncover what students already know about a topic (Pappas et al., 2004). Using connection charts can help students to think about their prior experiences with regards to a science topic. It also helps them to organize their questions and responses to
  • 65. 54 topics and related science stories. These charts also help students see how their thinking progresses over time (Jackson, Allen, & Dickinson, 2008). Shanahan (2004) pointed out several reasons why it is important to have reading and writing in science classes. First, the goal of science education is to foster a love for lifelong learning. In order to be able to continue to learn science throughout a lifetime, it is essential to be able to learn from reading about science. Second, when doing science experiments the skills of reading and writing are necessary for researching a topic and being able to share results. Third, even students who have no plans to have a science career will still need to know how to read and write about science to understand and function in a democratic society. Finally, students able to read and write in science have a deeper understanding of science concepts and are able to think more critically about issues dealing with science. Using reading strategies with informational science texts prior to reading, during reading, and after reading can enhance both reading and science learning, as well as provide an opportunity for authentic assessment (Yopp & Yopp, 2006). Even after- school groups centered on science have recognized the importance of integrating science literature into science learning (Moore-Hart, Liggit, & Daisey, 2004). Book-talk groups can be used with connection charts in which students in small groups can read a narrative information book about a particular science topic. After reading they work together to complete the chart (Jackson et al., 2008). Choosing appropriate trade books for a science lesson is critical to be able to use the science to work on the mentioned skills. Zales and Unger (2008) presented a five- step model for designing science lessons integrated with a carefully chosen trade book:
  • 66. 55 1. Determine the science content of chosen trade book. 2. Identify the science processes in the book. These include predicting, experimenting, observing, inferring, modeling, classifying, communicating, and measuring. 3. Identify the literary processes in the book. These include predicting, questioning, visualizing, inferring, questioning, determining importance, analyzing, and making connections. 4. Decide on appropriate teaching strategies. These include determining how to active prior experiences, how the story will be shared, and how to direct the focus on the science content and processes, as well as the important literacy processes. 5. Conduct a science lesson around the topic. This section began with an introduction to the current views on the how and whys of science education today. This was followed by a discussion on the important role that cooperative learning and collaboration plays in the learning of science. Next, the section included a review of the literature regarding misconceptions in science, a review of how technology is being used in science, and a review of research that is indicating that students can learn certain scientific concepts at younger ages than earlier believed. Finally, this section closed with a look at the role of literacy in science education. Yager (2004) summed up the need for continuing to search for better ways to teach science: All people learn; they cannot stop their brains from operating. The problem is that most of what is taught in the guise of science is not interesting, relevant, or a stimulus to the brain. If we are to succeed as a society in improving children’s learning, changes are needed in how we involve and include learners in classrooms, and maybe more important, beyond the school itself. (pp. 410–411)
  • 67. 56 Staff Collaboration The study of Science Investigation Stations in the Library program will enhance research that seeks to understand the potential benefits of staff collaboration on a campus. In the field of library and teacher collaboration, most of the situations are built around the concept of co-teaching. According to Tobin and Roth (as cited in Martin, 2009), co- teaching differs from collaborative teaching because the idea is that the library and teacher are teaching and learning from each other. Research on co-teaching also indicates that the participants learn and begin using different teaching practices that they unconsciously have acquired from each other (Martin, 2009). However, Hockersmith (2010) and Lance et al. (2010) found indications that often teachers are only seeking support from librarians or seeing them as providers of resources and information. Nevertheless, within the same research, there is information about librarians partnering with teachers as well as models for collaboration. Partnering with Teachers Hockersmith (2010) completed an executive position paper on the state of collaboration in a specific school district in Delaware, and concluded that in order to have a library that can positively affect student achievement, there is a need for strong administrative support, and development of a state literacy curriculum and focused professional development. In addition, Hockersmith recommended that the role of the librarian in information literacy be presented to pre-service teachers. Finally, he contended that it is the knowledge and expertise of the librarian that can and should be utilized to help create positive student achievement.
  • 68. 57 In a study in Idaho, Lance et al. (2010) found strong support for collaboration among librarians, teachers, and administrators as having a positive impact on student achievement. Significant findings included that at schools where teachers asked for at least monthly collaboration with librarians, scores in English language arts were higher than in schools where librarians did not have such meetings with teachers; and in cases when librarians offered in-service as well as resources to teachers, a significant impact on student achievement was found. The results showed that the greatest impact on student achievement was seen in schools where librarians were seen as teachers, as well as technologists; where the administration valued the library; and where the librarian sought opportunities to be on committees and provide resources to teachers (Lance et al., 2010). Models for Collaboration Montiel-Overall (2005) presented four models of teacher and librarian collaboration: coordination, cooperation, integrated instruction, and integrated curriculum. These models present increasing levels of actual collaboration and provide a framework with which to compare current levels of teacher–librarian interactions and those levels that will result in having an impact on student achievement. Coordination is the lowest and involves little actual collaboration. Integrated curriculum is the highest level of collaboration and involves the teacher and librarian meeting frequently to plan together. Montiel-Overall (2005) also provided five important constructs within the models. These are interest, improved learning, intensity, innovation, and integration. Interest is a measure of how interested the different individuals are in the particular project; higher interest from each leads to better and more collaboration. Improved learning involves what effect the collaboration between teacher and librarian has on student success.
  • 69. 58 Intensity is a measure of how involved each is in the collaboration. Innovation encompasses the newness or uniqueness of the ideas that come out of the collaboration. Integration is how well the various curriculum subjects are combined. In summary, the integrated curriculum at high levels of the five constructs is the optimal model for teacher–librarian collaboration that will affect student achievement. The current study of the SISL could provide a specific example of the integrated curriculum model. Libraries as Contributors to Academic Achievement Numerous studies across a large number of states, including Achterman’s (2008) dissertation on California schools, Lance et al.’s (2010) extensive compilation of 14 state studies, and summary data provided by American Association of School Librarians (2009) all indicate a strong correlation between the staffing and services of the library and student academic achievement. In addition, there is a growing body of research such as Gavigan and Kurtts’s (2010) argument for librarians as part of intervention teams for at-risk students, and Jones and Zambone’s (2008) strategies for librarians assisting at-risk students that indicate that librarians and libraries can provide valuable support for at-risk and special needs students. Finally, one study considered the library as a specific place for increasing student scientific inquiry (Krueger & Stefanich, 2011). Support and Enhancement of Academic Achievement of Students Achterman (2008) reviewed data on California libraries and schools at three specific grade levels: fourth, eighth, and 11th. While his correlations were more significant in the higher grades, there was support for library programs correlating to higher achievement in English language arts and social studies. In Achterman’s conclusions, he recommended a need for more research of successful elementary school
  • 70. 59 programs. It should be noted that no mention of if or how science scores were affected is mentioned in this study. Jones and Zambone (2008) synthesized the available research and principles into a book that provides librarians with the necessary resources and suggestions for increasing their role in improving academic achievement. While much of the information is targeted specifically at helping at-risk students, the general information provided gives strong support that librarians who are able to collaborate with teachers can have a positive impact on student achievement. American Association of School Librarians (AASL, 2007) provided a framework for the essential role libraries and librarians have in educating the students of today for the future. These standards are based on the common beliefs that all students need to read, be able to problem-solve, use ethics in dealing with information, be technologically literate, and have equal access. In addition, the standards serve to acknowledge that information literacy is becoming more complex, that there is an important social component to learning, and that the library plays a central role in helping students gain these skills. Support of At-Risk and Special Needs Students According to Gavigan and Kurtts (2010), due to the diverse needs of today’s students, all professionals on a campus need to take a role in improving student achievement. They stated that the librarian can provide collaborative activities that will help at-risk students succeed and potentially prevent them from dropping out of school. The AASL (2009) provided support for engaging librarians as members of a response-to- intervention team. Gavigan and Kurtts (2010) also provided several research-based
  • 71. 60 interventions that librarians should know about, including differentiated instruction and universal design for learning. Finally, they presented some basic guidelines for getting to know the individual students and their needs, a list in line with the recommendations of Jones and Zambone (2008). Jones and Zambone (2008) focused on how librarians can help build the resilience of at-risk students. Specifically, they presented the “Library Ladder of Resiliency” that presents five steps librarians can take in the library to help support the academic achievement of all students; at-risk students in particular. The steps presented by Jones and Zambone (2008) are “making connections, reading, problem-solving skills, social skills, and hobbies and interests” (p. 77). While these steps do not require collaboration, they do include suggestions for the librarian of key ways to increase their impact on the school. Growth in Student Scientific Inquiry Krueger and Stefanich (2011) presented an article contending that the school librarian can play an essential part in helping students grow in scientific inquiry. While the focus was pointed to students with disabilities, Krueger and Stefanich provided information that supported the idea that the school librarian can provide a key leadership role “to ensure accessibility of an array of materials that correlate with the units of the science curriculum” (p. 45). Results from the current study could enhance the librarian’s role as more than just a provider of materials, to that of an integral member of a collaborative team leading to student success.
  • 72. 61 Summary The literature review began with an historical look at constructivism as support for the type of learning implemented in the Science Investigation Stations in the Library program. The chapter also included support for following the tenets of constructivism through a review of several current standards and research. The review of research in how best to teach science showed strong support for using constructivist methods, particularly in the areas of being student-centered, collaborative, and solving problems. This research supports the idea of the SISL in that the stations are based on cooperative learning, student self-selection, and application of real-world scenarios. The review of research on science education for elementary students ranged from using cooperative learning, how to clear up misconceptions, use of technology, understanding the depth to which students can understand science concepts and the science–literacy connection. This discussion on current practices led into an overview of the place that librarians can take in promoting academic achievement of students. While there is much research supporting the role of strong libraries as having a positive impact on student achievement, there has not been a study completed of a program such as the SISL. As indicated earlier, the current study served to provide a specific example of how a strong, collaborative teacher–librarian relationship can be implemented in the library to enhance student achievement. Finally, the review of research indicates that librarians can have an integral role in helping at-risk students. Programs such as the SISL may provide models for developing other programs that engage all students and also provide support for helping at-risk students to succeed.
  • 73. 62 CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY The qualitative collective case study of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library (SISL) program served to gain an understanding of the perspectives and understandings of the staff involved in conducting the program at the various elementary schools. In addition, the researcher gathered information about the beliefs of different staff members, including librarians, teachers, and academic support teachers of science regarding the overall worthiness of the SISL program, and specifically of their ideas on how the program contributes to fifth graders’ science understandings, science vocabulary, and science content. The researcher collected data from a variety of sources in order to look for themes to help provide answers to the following research questions: 1. How do the librarians, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program? 2. How do the academic support teachers of science, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program? 3. How do the fifth grade teachers, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program? 4. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the librarians attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project?
  • 74. 63 5. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the academic support teachers of science attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project? 6. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the fifth grade teachers attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project? Research Design Creswell (2009) noted that a qualitative study is the best research design if the study is used to explore a new concept and more information is needed. Science Investigation Stations in the Library (SISL) was a new format for teaching science concepts, vocabulary and understandings to students in a different setting than the traditional lab or classroom. The SISL program needed to be explored to discover if the format was helping to increase student learning as well as promoting positive staff collaboration. In addition, Glesne (2006) presented qualitative research as being conducted by those who follow a constructivist approach. Glesne clarified that qualitative researchers “seek to understand and interpret how various participants in a social setting construct the world around them” (p. 4). Since the current study involved discovering how the different participants viewed the whole concept of the stations, the collaborative process involved, and how they perceived the stations impact on fifth graders’ science learning, a qualitative method was the best approach. Within the qualitative method, there were a variety of possible approaches. After reviewing various types of qualitative studies, the researcher determined that the use of a case study was the best because the research was of a specific program in a natural setting
  • 75. 64 at a specific time (Hancock & Algozzine, 2006). Merriam (2009) indicated, “A case study is an in-depth description and analysis of a bounded system” (p. 40). Because SISL was a new program designed to enhance the science learning of fifth grade students, it was important at this early stage to gather a full understanding of how the primary participants viewed the potential success of the program, as well as to gain a complete picture of how each of the three different staff members perceived their roles in the process. In other words, it was necessary to use a qualitative method for this study so that the perceptions of the individuals conducting the actual SISL could be understood and described (Merriam, 2009). Since the current study included four different schools to explore the new SISL program, the particular research design was a collective case study (Merriam, 2009). By focusing on the specific cases, the researcher sought to “uncover the interaction of significant factors characteristic of the phenomenon” (Merriam, 2009, p. 43). In addition, the case study served a two-fold purpose: to provide a description of the program, as well as an evaluation (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2003). Expanding on this, Patton (2002) provided the idea that as an evaluation of a program, the case study should consist of two layers of analysis. In the current study, there was an analysis of the individual cases, and then “a cross-case pattern analysis of the individual cases” (Patton, 2002, p. 447) provided information about the overall program. Specifically, in designing the case study, the researcher utilized the processes explained in Hancock and Algozzine (2006) and Yin (2009). Yin (2009) provided the rationale for presenting the research as an “embedded case study design” (p. 50). The case was the entire SISL program and each school was an “embedded unit of analysis” (p.
  • 76. 65 46). Hancock and Algozzine (2006) provided the rationale for viewing the SISL research as an “intrinsic case study” (p. 32) because the focus was on one particular program. The current researcher used a variety of types of data collection, including open-ended questionnaires, focus group discussions, and a blog, in order to provide triangulation in support of any conclusions (Yin, 2009). Selection of Participants The researcher conducted the collective case study in a large metropolitan school district in South Central Texas. The district is one of the largest in the state and had approximately 98,000 students in PK–12. The student population was a majority Hispanic at 68.5% (“Facts and Figures,” 2012). There were a total of 71 elementary schools in the district; of these, 15–20 elementary libraries had conducted SISL in the past 2 years. The researcher selected the participants from the elementary schools that self- identified as having completed one of the SISL units in the 2012–2013 school year. Of these, the researcher chose four specific schools because they provided a variety of comparison points, as well as being representative of the variety found in the district. The researcher identified the schools only with a letter for confidentiality purposes: School A, School B, School C, and School D. School A and School C were bilingual campuses. School A and School B were Title 1 campuses and had academic support teachers of science. School B and School D’s librarians were included in the pilot program and as such were entering their third year of conducting SISL. On the other hand, the librarians from School A and School C had attended an all-day Saturday professional development session in Fall 2011 and were conducting the SISL for only the
  • 77. 66 second time. The researcher believed that the variety of the four schools provided a depth of data to analyze for the research questions. Obtaining permissions. In order to conduct the intended study, the school district required an approval process in which the researcher provided information about the study, and a district committee granted permission (Appendix A). Based on the support of individuals in library services and the district science department, there was a comfortable assumption that the study would be approved. In addition, the researcher completed the Argosy University IRB process of approval. Upon IRB approval, the researcher requested and obtained permission letters from each of the four principals of the participating schools (Appendix B). Then, the researcher conducted the first screen prior to the online survey, which contained a version of the model oral instructions indicating consent at time of survey (Appendix C) for each of the individual participants. Clicking “next” and going into the survey was considered consent. Finally, the researcher asked librarians to sign and return an additional consent form prior to participation in the focus group interview (Appendix D). Instrumentation The collection of data for this qualitative study was vital to the entire process. In order to help ensure reliability, the researcher collected as many different sources of data as possible (Yin, 2009), including open-ended questionnaires, focus group interviews, and blog discussions. The major source of data came from the participants’ completion of the open-ended answers questionnaires (Gall et al., 2003) and focus group discussions. The focus group discussion was in two formats: one actual focus group interview with the librarians and an online blog in which the participants were asked to make comments,
  • 78. 67 post reflections, and discuss the implementation of the program at their schools over a 2- week period. SISL perceptions questionnaire. Using criteria and recommendations presented in Gall et al. (2003), the researcher designed an open-ended questionnaire for each participant group for data collection (Appendices E, F, & G). The open-ended questionnaire used in the study was modified from Zheng, Perez, Williamson, and Flygare’s (2007) WebQuest Questionnaire for Teachers (WQFT), as well as from additional questions added by Oliver (2010) (Appendix H). The current researcher obtained permission to modify and use the original questionnaire through email by Oliver and Zheng (Appendix I). The original WQFT was designed as a Likert-scale questionnaire and not all questions applied to the current study. First, the researcher identified statements that would be used and then converted them into open-ended questions, and deleted questions considered to be only yes or no for the most part. Then, the researcher added a few specific questions to provide further information considered pertinent to answering the research questions. In order to provide the most accurate information, some questions varied between the three sub-groups: teachers, librarians, and academic support teachers (Gall et al., 2003). Finally, the researcher added some basic demographic questions to the beginning of the questionnaire. In order to improve the reliability and validity of the questions, the researcher presented the questionnaire to the academic support teacher from the researcher’s school, a fifth grade teacher from the researcher’s school, and a librarian who had attended the training for the program but was not in the study. Each individual was asked to read through the questionnaire and comment on readability and understandability of each
  • 79. 68 question (Gall et al., 2003). Once these responses were compiled, the researcher made revisions to the questionnaire prior to use with the study participants. The participants received the questionnaire in an online format as soon as IRB approval was obtained, the principal had given consent, and the stations had been conducted. The questionnaires of the three groups provided data to describe and compare the three different perspectives. The researcher then used the information from the questionnaire responses to design questions for the focus group discussions. Focus group discussions. The focus group discussions consisted of a face-to- face group interview with the four librarians, and an online blog format designed specifically for all of the participants and similar to a focus group interview. The focus group interview and blog were used to support the patterns found from the questionnaire and to gather a variety of views from the group (Patton, 2002). Glesne (2006) recommended four or five good questions, whereas Patton (2002) considered as many as 10 to be acceptable. Once the patterns emerged from the questionnaires, the researcher determined the number of questions for the focus groups with these guidelines in mind. For the librarian focus group, four questions were used; and for the online blog, six questions were used, with a few intended specifically for teachers and the others for all three groups. Focus groups provide several key advantages in qualitative study. First, they are time- and cost-effective. Second, the interaction of the different members allows for better data as participants will elaborate and correct each other’s ideas. Finally, participants may speak more freely than they would in an individual interview, and discussion may be richer because of the social aspect (Gall et al., 2003; Patton, 2002).
  • 80. 69 The use of the online discussion groups for the teachers and the ASTs was for convenience. The researcher believed that more teachers would participate from each of the four schools if they could respond to questions and comments at a time that was best for them, rather than attempting to find a time for them all to gather. As for the online format for the ASTs, even though there were only two, the researcher believed that the conversation would be more in-depth. In actuality, the online format was not successful with regard to the teachers and ASTs. Methodological Assumptions Merriam (2009) suggested, “One of the assumptions underlying qualitative research is that reality is holistic, multidimensional, and ever-changing; it is not a single, fixed, objective phenomenon waiting to be discovered, observed, and measured as in quantitative research” (p. 213). However, as with all research, it was important that the current study be considered valid and trustworthy. In order to increase the study’s internal validity, the researcher used triangulation through multiple data sources (Creswell, 2007; Merriam, 2009). This triangulation included a thorough comparison of the different sources of data, as well as checking across the various data collected at any one time. A second method that the researcher used to ensure internal validity is member-checking (Merriam, 2009). Since the research questions deal with perceptions, it is important that what was written is an accurate representation of the SISL as seen through the eyes of the participants. Finally, a detailed audit trail, “a detailed account of how the study was conducted and how the data was analyzed” (Merriam, 2009, p. 223) is included in a later section.
  • 81. 70 Threats to external validity have to do with the generalizability of the research. Since the study was of a qualitative nature, there were already limitations on its overall generalizability. However through the use of “rich, thick description” (Creswell, 2007, p. 209), the researcher included enough information about each of the cases to improve the chances of transferability. The researcher also sued another strategy of “maximum variation” (Merriam, 2009, p. 227) in the selection of the cases. The researcher chose schools that represent several different variables often found in school districts, including support help, Title 1 status, and bilingual students. Procedures Upon IRB approval in the 2012–2013 school year, the researcher sent the letters of consent to the four participant schools’ principals. Once the principals gave their consent, the librarians were contacted to obtain the dates of the intended stations. As expected, the different schools conducted the Science Investigation Stations in the Library program at varying times throughout the school year. If stations had already been completed early in the year, the researcher provided a link to the appropriate questionnaire to the librarian, fifth grade teachers, and if present, the academic support teacher of science. For the other schools, once the stations had been conducted, then the researcher sent the appropriate links to the participants at that campus. Once the questionnaire and link was sent, the researcher sent a friendly reminder email each week until responses were received or the individual declined participation. The first round of data was the completion of the questionnaire by the participants at the school during the week after all fifth grade classes had completed the module in the library (Appendix J). Once all four schools had completed SISL and all questionnaires
  • 82. 71 were completed, the librarian focus group discussion was scheduled. The librarian focus group discussion was set up to occur at the end of a school day at one of the participants’ libraries. Using questions solicited from data from the SISL Perceptions Questionnaire, the four librarians participated in a discussion with the researcher about the SISL. The focus group was guided by four broad questions: 1. Describe what you believe to be the best collaborative practice for the science investigation stations. 2. What was the collaborative process at your campus? 3. What, if anything, would you like to change about the collaboration of the team? 4. Discuss the ways in which you think the stations contribute to the science academic achievement of the fifth graders. The discussion was recorded and then transcribed by the researcher for further notes and analysis (Appendix K). From this focus group discussion transcript, as well as comments made on the questionnaire, the researcher designed six questions to post in the online blog discussion for the teachers, the ASTs, and the librarians. The blog was then opened for discussion for a 2-week period, and the researcher sent participants the web address and dates for being involved in the discussion. After the first week, the researcher sent a reminder email and another invitation to participate. In addition, the blog was kept open for an additional week. At the end of 3 weeks, only the librarians and one teacher chose to make any comments on the blog questions (Appendix L).
  • 83. 72 IRB Protection and Ethical Considerations In line with university and good research procedures, the researcher obtained IRB approval prior to any data collection or analysis. Within the IRB approval was protection of the data for confidentiality purposes. All data collected was electronically saved to a secure flash drive and placed, along with all print documents in a locked cabinet to be kept in the researcher’s home for 3 years. At the end of the 3-year period, the researcher will destroy the flash drive and shred all hard copies. The participants’ information was used for research purposes only. In most cases, the researcher presented the data as a compilation of categories. Any individual information was used with a pseudonym. The researcher provided each school a letter code and each participant a combination letter and number code. Data Processing and Analysis The data analysis followed recommendations from Creswell (2009) and Merriam (2009). As is common in qualitative research, the data analysis was ongoing throughout the collection process. Analysis began as soon as the researcher collected the first questionnaires and continued through the last blog post. The first task was to review the questionnaires and to identify pieces of data that raised questions for the focus group discussions. The researcher analyzed the questionnaires to identify specific pieces of the data with codes, enabling comparisons across the various data, which then revealed the categories that provided insight into the research questions. The researcher used the same process to analyze focus group discussion transcript and blog responses, to develop a master list of categories used to identify common themes across the data (Merriam, 2009).
  • 84. 73 The researcher decided that the themes that began to emerge were in line with those ideas presented in the literature review. There were two research questions for each set of participants. First, the researcher compiled data from each school to form a within-case analysis, in which the researcher treated each school as its own individual case study (Merriam, 2009). (The school information is included in chapter four.) Next, the themes were identified. Then, the researcher used cross-case analysis to find the common themes across the cases. Finally, the researcher reviewed the identified codes and themes for patterns as related to the original research questions (Creswell, 2009). As the researcher analyzed the data, the statements were first identified as applying to either collaboration or academic achievement. Once the information was correlated to one of the questions, the researcher then coded with one of four identifiers. With a few statements, the researcher deemed that the information did not apply to either question, so it was not coded. For the collaboration questions, the researcher determined that the four main themes were as follows: perceptions about the roles of the different collaborative team members; specific perceptions of the teacher role; perceptions that teachers were essential for the lessons before and after the stations; and perceptions that the stations had an effect on the teaching of other lessons. For the questions about the perceptions of the effects on fifth grade academic achievement, the four themes that emerged were perceptions about the stations’ overall enhancement of science learning; perceptions about the stations as indications of the use of best practices for learning science; perceptions about the stations providing support for different learning styles; and perceptions about the stations’ support
  • 85. 74 for at-risk, special education, and English language learners. During the initial analysis, an additional code of student collaboration emerged that was eventually determined to be a best practice and so was redefined as a subtheme of the perceptions about the stations as indications of the use of best practices for learning science theme. These themes came from topics considered in the literature review as well as the data itself. The topics from the literature review included partnering with teachers; libraries as contributors to academic achievement that included support and enhancement for at-risk, special needs, and English language learners; growth in student science inquiry; and best practices in science learning. In summary, this chapter has served to describe the research design of qualitative collective case study, as well as provided reasons for this design selection; explain the selection of the participants; describe the instrumentation to be used and how it was developed; describe the methodological assumptions dealing with internal and external validity and how the study would address each; provide a description of the procedures to be used; and finally, presented the task of data processing and analysis.
  • 86. 75 CHAPTER FOUR: FINDINGS The purpose of this qualitative study was to gain an understanding of the perceptions of the teachers, librarians, and academic support teachers involved in implementing the Science Investigation Stations in the Library (SISL) program at their various campuses. The overall objectives were to analyze their perceptions of the collaborative process of planning and conducting the stations, and also to analyze their perceptions of the impact of the stations on the fifth graders’ science education. The researcher attempted to answer the following research questions: 1. How do the librarians, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program? 2. How do the academic support teachers of science, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program? 3. How do the fifth grade teachers, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program? 4. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the librarians attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project? 5. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the academic support teachers of science attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project?
  • 87. 76 6. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the fifth grade teachers attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project? The researcher selected a qualitative case study methodology in order to understand the views of the three participant groups and determine the commonalities and differences, if any, among the three. By using the actual thoughts and ideas of the people involved, the result was a detailed account of the SISL stations from the perspectives of the three groups, the variations among campuses, and a composite understanding of the implementation of the stations within the district. The researcher analyzed the data to provide answers to the research questions and to evaluate the potential of the stations as an effective science program. This chapter is a summary of the findings from the data collection. The chapter begins with a description of the overall study and some general, descriptive data about the school district and each participant school. This is followed by a description of the overall data analysis procedures. Then, the findings are presented and analyzed as it corresponds to each of the three groups of participants. Within each group, the data is further summarized as it refers to a particular research question. Descriptive Data The study involved four elementary schools in a large metropolitan public school district in South Central Texas. There were 70 elementary schools in the district. The researcher chose participant schools from a list of schools in which the stations were to be conducted during the 2012–2013 school year and that were willing to participate in the dissertation study. From this list of 10 schools, the researcher chose four that best
  • 88. 77 represented the variety found within the large school district. The variables used were Title I status, presence of a bilingual program, and the presence of an academic support teacher for science. The following is a description of each of the four campuses used in the study. In addition to the previously mentioned information, included in each description are the state tests scores of the science test given to fifth graders in the spring of each school year for the previous 2 years. In the 2011–2012 school year, a new state assessment was introduced, known as the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness or STAAR™ . Prior to the STAAR™ test, students had been taking the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS. The first TAKS science test was administered in the 2002–2003 school year (Texas Education Agency, 2004). This was 5 years in advance of the requirement to administer a science test in the elementary grades mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). The science standards known as the TEKS were originally introduced in 1993. The science TEKS were revised and adopted in 2009 and went into effect in the 2010–2011 school year (Texas Education Agency, 2010). Schools were then given 1 year to implement the changes using the old state assessment. At the time of the current study, the schools had completed two administrations of the new STAAR™ assessment. The test scores for each student were interpreted into one of three performance levels. Level 1 is unsatisfactory or a failing score. Students at this level are considered “not prepared for the next grade level or course and are not likely to succeed in that grade without significant and ongoing instructional support” (Texas Education Agency, 2013b, p. 2.3). Level II is satisfactory and the level which is
  • 89. 78 considered passing. At this level, students are considered prepared for the next grade or course; however, students at this level might still need some additional support. Level III is advanced and students at this level are expected to succeed in the next grade with little problem (Texas Education Agency, 2013b). Due to the advancement and difficulty of the new standards, phase-ins of the levels were implemented. Phase-In 1 for Level II: Satisfactory was for the school years 2011–2012 and 2012–2013. Phase-In 2 for Level II: Satisfactory will be for the 2013– 2014 and 2014–2015 school years. The final recommended Level II: Satisfactory will go into effect in the 2016–2017 school year (Texas Education Agency, 2013a). For the first administration, the raw scores were 0–44 and the scale scores ranged from 865–5491. In order to obtain a satisfactory or Level II score at the Phase-in 1, the student had to have a raw score of 29/44 or a scale score of 3500. For 2013, the raw score range remained 0– 44 and the scale scores range was 1025–5609. For a Level II score, the scale score was still 3500. However, the minimum raw score was 26/44 for Phase-In 1. For Phase-In 2, the minimum raw score was 31 with a scale score of 3750 to be considered Level II: Satisfactory. For the Level II: Recommended, the minimum raw score was 37 with a scale score of 4000 (Texas Education Agency, 2013d). In order to compare the four study campuses to the state, the overall state scores for fifth grade science for Spring 2012 were 73% at Level II: Satisfactory, and 12% at Level III: Advanced. The average scale score was 3779. For the 2013 scores, the state average scale score was 3786 with 73% again at Level II: Satisfactory; however, the Level III: Advanced was 11%. In addition, the 2013 report included the Level II: Satisfactory percentages for the Phase-In 2 and Recommended Standards. For Phase-In 2
  • 90. 79 standards, only 53% of the students would have performed at Level II: Satisfactory, and only 34% at the Recommended standard (Texas Education Agency, 2013c). School A School A opened in 2000 and, with only three grade 5 teachers, was one of the smaller campuses in the current study. The campus is both a Title I and a bilingual campus. Due to its Title I status, it did have a specialist known as the academic support teacher of science or AST. This individual is a non-classroom teacher whose job is to aid the classroom teachers in implementing the science standards in their classrooms and to help with conducting grade-appropriate activities in the science lab. According to the librarian, all of the teachers as well as the librarian and the AST participated in the SISL program in the year of the study. However, only two of the teachers, the AST, and the librarian chose to participate in the study. For this campus, the librarian attending training after the year of the pilot schools instigated interest and participation in the SISL stations. Part of the AST’s job is to help prepare the fifth grade students for their first statewide assessment in science that they take in the spring of their fifth grade year. As previously mentioned, the current state test had only been administered twice at the time of the study. The 2012 scores for School A were Level II: Satisfactory 78% and Level III: Advanced 15%. The scores in 2013 dropped a little to 87% and 5%, respectively. In 2013, the Phase-In 2 percentage was 68% and the Recommended was 32% (Pearson Education, Inc., 2013).
  • 91. 80 School B School B was the newest school, having opened in 2008. There were four grade 5 classes at the time of the study. The campus was Title I and so had an AST for science. The campus was not bilingual. According to the librarian, all classes participated in the SISL stations during the school year. However, only two teachers, the AST, and the librarian chose to participate in the study. School B was one of the campuses chosen as part of the original pilot schools. The librarian and the AST attended a day-long training with the creators of the program. As members of the original pilot of SISL, the librarian and AST were also essential in creating one of the original three sets of stations used by the different campuses. For comparison purposes, the researcher collected scores from the 2 years of STAAR™ testing in science. The 2012 scores for School B were Level II: Satisfactory 75% and Level III: Advanced 10%. Scores in 2013 rose a small percentage to Level II: Satisfactory 78% and 13% for the Level III: Advanced. The Phase-In 2 percentage was 63%; however, there was a 38% for Recommended (Pearson Education, Inc., 2013). School C School C is the oldest campus in the study, having opened in 1975. It was also the largest campus, having five grade 5 classes. This campus is one of the two non-Title 1 campuses in the study and therefore did not have an AST. In addition, it is a non- bilingual campus. Once again, all the classes had participated in the SISL stations, but only two of the teachers chose to participate in the study. Since there was no AST, the only other participant for this study from School C was the librarian. The librarian was
  • 92. 81 also part of the original pilot group and had also worked on the creation of the original three sets of SISL stations. The 2 years of test scores for this campus were similar to the other campuses. For the 2012 school year, the Level II: Satisfactory score was 78% and the Level III: Advanced was 16%. The 2013 scores had the same Level II: Satisfactory percentage, and the Level III: Advanced dropped to 13%. For the Phase-In scores, School B was at 56% for Phase-In 2 and 37% for Recommended (Pearson Education, Inc., 2013). School D School D, the final campus used for the study, opened in 1982 and was one of the smallest with only three grade 5 classes. It is a bilingual campus, but non-Title 1. Because it is not Title I, it did not have an AST. At this campus, one of the fifth grade teachers was responsible for most of the science teaching. As a result, she was the only teacher that chose to participate in the SISL stations and only with her homeroom class. However, she chose not to participate in the study, so the only information from School D is from only the librarian’s perspective. Test scores for School D were similar to School B. The 2012 scores were 74% for Level II: Satisfactory and 7% for Level III: Advanced. Scores for 2013 rose several points to 78% for Level II and 11% for Level III. Scores for the Phase In standards were slightly above the state averages at 58% for Phase-In 2 and 35% for Recommended (Pearson Education, Inc., 2013). The next section contains a discussion of the data analysis and data collection pieces. Then, the next three sections include summaries of the results from the various participants, grouped by participant. The first group discussed will be the librarians from
  • 93. 82 the four campuses, followed by a review and analysis of results from the two academic support teachers of science with regards to the original study questions. The final section includes analysis of the results from six teachers who participated and provided information in the questionnaires with regards to the two study questions. Data Collection and Analysis The researcher collected the primary data from the online questionnaires submitted to each participant in all three groups, identified by code names and collected in two spreadsheets. The first spreadsheet was a collection of the demographic data from the participants. The second spreadsheet was the responses to the questions (Appendix J). All four librarians and the two ASTs responded to the questionnaires. Of the 15 teachers who received the invitations, only six chose to provide responses. One additional teacher claimed that she had responded, but her responses were never located and she chose not to resubmit when asked to do so. The researcher collected additional data from the librarians through the one focus group interview held at one of the participating campuses library. The 46-minute interview was professionally transcribed and then thoroughly checked and corrected by the researcher (Appendix K). Finally, the researcher developed six additional questions from the interview responses and posted them on a blog that was then opened for comment to all the participants. Only one teacher and the four librarians chose to respond to any of the blog questions. The researcher had specifically written two of the questions for teacher responses, but received no comments (Appendix L). The main purpose of the data analysis was to find themes in the perceptions of the participants as related to the study questions. First, the researcher reviewed the data for each group to find terms and patterns about the perceptions of the teamwork and
  • 94. 83 collaboration of the staff participants with the SISL stations. As mentioned in chapter three, an analysis of all the responses of all three groups and references to the literature review and overall research questions led to four major themes having to do with their experiences as team members and their perceptions of the other team members. In the notes, the researcher used the code COLL followed by a number 1–4 to indicate instances in the responses that fit one of four themes as follows: COLL1: Perceptions about the roles of the different collaborative team members COLL2: Specific perceptions of the teacher role COLL3: The perception that teachers were essential for the lessons before and after the stations COLL4: The perception that the stations had an effect on teaching of other lessons Next, the researcher reviewed the data for indications of the themes and patterns about how the participants perceived that the SISL stations were affecting the academic achievement of the fifth graders. As denoted in chapter three, the responses were analyzed and the following four themes or patterns emerged: AA1: Perceptions about the SISL stations’ overall enhancement of science learning AA2: Perceptions about the SISL stations as indications of the use of best practices in science learning as found in the literature review. These were then further coded with a–e to indicate one of five best practices as follows: (a) cooperative learning and collaboration, (b) misconceptions in science, (c) use of prior knowledge, (d) use of technology, and (e) science–literacy connections.
  • 95. 84 AA3: Perceptions about the SISL stations providing support for student learning of science concepts through different learning styles AA4: Perceptions about the SISL stations support for at-risk, special education and English language learners. Librarians Research questions one and four applied specifically to librarians. Each of the librarians at all four campuses was an essential participant in the study. The four provided detailed responses to the questionnaires, then expanded and added to this information in the focus group interview. The three of them provided further thoughts and comments to the appropriate blog questions. All four librarians were female, as were the majority of the librarians in the district at the time. Of the 70 elementary librarians at the time of the study, only one was male. In addition, as required by the district, all four had master’s degrees in library science. One librarian, SC-L3, was considering beginning work on a doctoral degree in the near future. SA-L1 had been in education for 17 years, the last nine as the librarian at her current campus. She has teaching certifications in general education for first through eighth grades, as well as bilingual certification for first through eighth grades; she was not in the original pilot study. Instead, she had attended a Saturday day of training and then shared the SISL program with her AST and fifth grade teachers. SA-L1 was in her second year of planning and facilitating the stations. SB-L2 had 20 years of experience in education, with the last 8 years as a librarian. Her teaching certification is in K–6 grade. She was in the original pilot, along with her AST, identified as SB-A2. She had been one of the leaders in presenting the training for
  • 96. 85 other teachers. Also, SB-L2 was responsible for working with a group to create one of the three original sets of stations. The year of the study was her third year to work with the stations. SC-L3 had the fewest years of teaching experience and years as a librarian of the group, 16 and 7 years, respectively. Her teaching certification is Pre-K through sixth grade. She, too, was a part of the original pilot group and one of the creators of the original lessons; however, she did not have an AST at her campus, so SC-L3 was the sole person to bring the SISL stations to the fifth grade teachers. As a member of the original pilot program, this was her third year working with the stations at her school. SD-L4 had 35 years of teaching experience, with 9 years of those as librarian. Her teaching certifications include elementary education, Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD), counseling, and special education. She was not part of the original pilot program and she did not have an AST at her campus. SD-L4 also had attended training in the summer of 2011 in order to learn about the SISL stations and then brought it back to the fifth grade teachers at School D. She indicated in the year prior to the study that all the teachers had participated in the stations; however, she indicated in her interview that due to teacher changes and the way the subjects were divided, only one teacher had participated during the study year. Research Question One The first research question was, “How do the librarians, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program? For the librarians, the sources of data included the questionnaires, the focus group interview, and the blog. SISL was specifically designed to use the library and
  • 97. 86 librarian in a more traditional, content-related role. As a result, all four librarians had strong feelings about how they believed the collaborative process of SISL was supposed to work; however, they also had clear ideas about how it was working. The researcher reviewed and analyzed all the data to uncover the various thoughts and perceptions of the librarians as it related to the four themes. The next sections contain a summary and important quotes made by the librarians divided by each of the themes. Collaborative roles of team members. The librarians all indicated a desire to collaborate with the teachers. However, only one, SD-L4 indicated that what she perceived to be collaboration had actually occurred with a teacher. The two librarians with ASTs had found that their collaboration only occurred with them. SC-L3 attempted on several occasions to include the teachers. In the focus group interview, she expressed that she believed the most beneficial collaborative practice for the stations would be if she and the fifth grade teachers were to sit down and review the STAAR™ and curriculum district benchmark (CDB) scores to determine “what our lowest performing objectives are” and then creating stations for those areas. The reality was that she attempted to share information with the fifth grade teacher designated as the science facilitator, and the teacher simply agreed to what SC-L3 came up with. When SC-L3 asked the teacher to provide input, her response was that whatever SC-L3 came up with was fine. SC-L3 ended up contacting other librarians, the original developer, and SB-A2 to help her develop her SISL stations for her school. In the end, she was the one who did all the planning and the teachers merely came to the library on the day of the stations and helped with facilitation. However, she did believe that the SISL program
  • 98. 87 had helped her build better relationships with her fifth grade teachers and had helped her “to become more knowledgeable with their science curriculum.” SB-L2 had similar thoughts; however, she was not as concerned with creating new SISL stations, but rather that the teachers need to be fully informed about the stations being taught and more involved in the creation process. Both SB-L2 and SA-L1 commented on the questionnaire and in the focus group interview that on their campuses, it was the AST and themselves who planned, organized, and set up the stations. SB-L2 even referred to the AST as the go-between and that she allowed him to relay all the information to the fifth grade team since he already met with them on a regular basis. He also was aware of the material that they were covering and would talk to them about when they wanted to plan the stations. SA-L1 described this as trying to get the teachers to help “tweak the stations” and give more input on what areas to focus on. SB-L2 agreed with SA-L1 and added that she would like to work with the teachers to analyze the STAAR™ scores together to determine if other objectives needed to be covered in the SISL stations. Both SA-L1 and SB-L2 expressed that they thought it would be better if the teachers were more involved and that they planned to try to meet with the teachers more often the next year. Unfortunately, both seemed to believe that it would still be left to them and the AST to conduct the SISL stations. In the focus group interview, the librarians expressed that the most beneficial implementation of the stations would be collaboration between the librarian and teachers, as well as an AST, if available. They also all agreed that none of them had that situation at the time. In the two schools with ASTs all the planning was done between the librarian and the AST with little to no input from the teachers. Of the two campuses without ASTs,
  • 99. 88 only one, School D, seemed to have any kind of collaboration with the teacher. SD-L4 noted in her questionnaire and voiced in the focus group interview that she and the teachers worked in a give-and-take situation, in which one would present an idea and then the other would add to or build from that. They also apparently shared in the developing and gathering of the materials. The librarians also expressed during the focus group interview that they would like to see the district librarians meet and discuss the idea more. They believed that, if nothing else, the librarians could work together to develop more sets of SISL stations. However, they did want to try in the upcoming school year to involve the fifth grade teachers more. They also expressed an interest in reaching out to other grade levels and possibly in other content areas to create stations on various topics with a similar format. However, when questioned about how to get more schools involved, one librarian seemed to think that it would only happen if it was actually made a part of the curriculum for the teachers. Teacher’s role in collaboration. The librarians, except in the case of SD-L4, believed that the teachers’ role was to help facilitate the stations with the librarian. In general, the perceptions of the librarians from both the focus group interview and the blog was that, while they would like for the teachers to play a greater role, in reality, the best that they could probably get would be for the teachers to provide greater input into what stations were being presented, as well as what TEKS needed to be addressed. SA-L1 commented that the teachers were there when they conducted the SISL stations and that they did help during the actual running of the stations. She had commented on the questionnaire that she had met with the fifth grade teachers, but
  • 100. 89 further clarification during the focus group interview revealed that this meeting had only been to explain the idea of the stations and have them agree to initial support. Beyond that, she and the AST had done all the actual planning and preparation. In the interview, she expressed this lack of involvement was due to the school being Title I as well as the access to a variety of specialists. In her words, “So our teachers are, I guess we can say, blessed to be given…handed here’s this, use this, do this.” SA-L1 perceived this as the teachers are so accustomed to being provided everything that they do not participate in collaboration. SB-L2 expressed a similar situation on her campus, School B, although she remembered that during the pilot program it was presented that the teachers were to be involved. It was presented that way on her campus so that the teachers at least helped facilitate and interacted with the students during the actual station. In her opinion, this should be a minimum expectation. She did express that the teachers were involved during the SISL stations with the students. SC-L3 also believed that her teachers were content to let her plan everything and they just wanted to show up with their class when it was time to complete the stations. She went so far as to say that, as librarians, that it was going to be necessary for them to review the curriculum and find the objectives and match the stations to what was needed on each campus because, as she said, “I just think a lot of teachers are not going to take the time to collaborate as much as they should; that’s just my opinion.” SC-L3 reiterated that she would like the fifth grade teachers to be more involved, but was not confident in her ability to make that happen.
  • 101. 90 SD-L4 seemed to have the campus where the teacher was best involved, even though it was only with one teacher. SD-L4 perceived their situation as a productive one with a good give-and-take. She also commented that if the campus goes to departmentalization next year that this teacher plans to have all the classes complete the stations “because she’s invested in it.” However, SD-L4 did comment that the year before had not been as nice; during that year, the teachers did not even offer support during the actual SISL stations. Lessons before and after stations. According to the librarians, the indication of lessons before and after the stations was limited to information provided by the teachers or AST. However, as reiterated by the researcher in the focus group interview, the SISL stations were never intended as the only way the students were to be taught the content. As pointed out by the librarians, the stations on their campuses were always a review of previously taught content. SA-L1, SB-L2, and SC-L3 all specifically mentioned the review or reinforcement aspect in their statements about the overall goal of SISL on the questionnaires. In the focus group interview, SD-L4 indicated that she and the teacher had made some changes to the stations during the planning phase when the teacher commented on lessons that had been taught in the lab or classroom. SA-L1 also made a comment that the stations on her campus were used as review prior to a curriculum district benchmark (CDB). The librarians discussed attending grade-level meetings to solicit the teachers to help choose topics and objectives. Effects on other teaching. While many of the librarians could not speak specifically of how other teaching was impacted by the SISL stations, they did make a few remarks related about this idea. In response to a blog question about knowledge of
  • 102. 91 the research about the impact of school libraries in school, SA-L1 seemingly misunderstood the question and included in her comment that she intended next year to go back and look at CDB data, presumably to discover the impact of the stations on science learning. In one other comment, SC-L3 commented that teachers were checking out more books and using them also for reading and math. Research Question Four Research question four was, “What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the librarians attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project?” Once again, the source of responses supplying information for this question came from the questionnaires, focus group interview, and blog. Stations’ overall enhancement of science learning. In the majority of their responses related to the impact of the stations or the benefits of the stations, the librarians repeatedly made comments in all three sources of data about the enthusiasm of the fifth graders during the stations. All of the librarians believed one of the greatest aspects of the stations was the hands-on component, and commented often that the hands-on piece really engaged the students. As SD-L4 commented, “the hands-on really does seem to make a mind connection” and that the students were positively affected by several of the hands-on materials. She also commented in several responses on the questionnaire about how engaged the students were. SC-L3 described SISL as providing the hands-on component that allowed students to have “concrete learning experiences.” She also commented that the students were engaged, had positive things to say about the activities and said “thank you” when they were leaving. As SC-L3 said, “When fifth graders thank you for a lesson, that’s
  • 103. 92 about as good as it gets.” Furthermore, she believed the small group discussions left students with personal connections and more positive feelings about science. Finally, she commented that more students were completing science fair projects. SA-L1 commented that she was not sure if the data was there, but she definitely believed that it was helping because of the students’ comments and reactions. Comments from students such as “This is fun!” and “I love science!” indicated to this librarian that the students were benefiting from the SISL stations. SA-L1 believed that the stations took more time, but were worth it. SB-L2, in her questionnaire responses, believed that the students’ eagerness to move to the different stations, the rich discussion with the other students and the teachers, as well as their positive remarks on exit cards were all indications that SISL was positive for overall science learning. She also pointed out in the interview that her AST, SB-A2, had actually gone back and looked at CDB scores for the previous year and commented that the scores had improved on the three topics they had covered. One specific question about in what ways, if any, did the librarians believe SISL provided scaffolding for the students served to produce more responses based on the librarians’ perceptions. The researcher provided the librarians with a list of potential answers and asked them to check all that applied. One of the statements, Facilitating the understanding of subject content, was chosen by all four of the librarians. Everyone except SA-L1 chose three other statements as well: Organizing the way for new learning, Enabling the learner to focus on problems, and Enabling the learners to connect between their learning activities and goals. All of these statements were good indications that the
  • 104. 93 librarians perceived the SISL program to have a positive impact on the students’ overall science learning. Use of best practices in science learning. On the questionnaire, there were a number of questions that led the participants to comment on their perceptions about how the SISL was contribution to the science learning of the 5th graders. A number of the questions led to responses that indicated mentions of several ideas that are considered best practices in science learning. These ideas became the subthemes of the second code of academic achievement. The sections below provide a summary of each of the five subthemes. Cooperative learning and collaboration. The collaboration of the students was only mentioned in the questionnaire. One of the questions specifically asked about examples of students collaborating that had been witnessed by the participant. In response to this question, each of the librarians provided various responses. SD-L4 saw the help that lower-level readers received from the higher-level readers as collaboration. She also commented that they shared materials and had discussions at the various SISL stations. In another question, SD-L4 also mentioned that the small groups were having good discussions. SB-L2 and SA-L1 commented that the students had to work together to make observations and record their findings. SB-L2 witnessed students willing to help each other. SC-L3 had a similar comment in that she, too, felt the students were helping each other with the different activities. Misconceptions in science. While the librarians did not expressly identify any incidents of helping with potential misconceptions, several of their actions during the SISL stations can be seen as activities that would work to help identify and prevent such
  • 105. 94 misunderstandings. For example, SC-L3 used vocabulary cards at each station with definitions and visuals that she used to question the students about different activities while they were working. In a blog reply to SC-T5 from SC-L3, in talking about the benefits of the stations, SC-L3 discussed her use of vocabulary cards to generate discussion with the students, stating, “It is a great chance to have them verbalize and extend their understanding of certain concepts, and to see which students need to be retaught a particular concept.” SA-L1 also commented on the stations as good for reinforcing those science concepts. Use of prior knowledge. SA-L1 commented about “building on what they already know.” She also gave a specific example of students using their knowledge about certain science tools at one of the stations. SB-L2 mentioned a specific instance of this in the use of the students’ science notebooks that students had brought with them and that “its filled already with all the things that they’ve done, and they can go back and look at what they have learned.” SB-L2 also saw the stations as adding to experiences that the students could draw on in future science learning. She commented that she could now see students applying what they had learned in SISL to new situations. SD-L4 said that the students gathered information at some of the stations that allowed them to add to their knowledge base about the topics. Use of technology. The technology piece, as previously mentioned, was one of the essential components of the original SISL program. However, the librarians only made a few references to the use of technology. SC-L3 commented that one benefit of the stations was the combination of the science along with the technology. She saw the technology as a way for the students to expand on their current knowledge on a particular
  • 106. 95 topic,and provided one of the few specific examples of how the technology was used to create a diagram and to narrate the explanation. SC-L3 also included remarks about the use of the iPods by the students and that the teachers had commented to her on how much note-taking the students did during the viewing of the videos as compared to other occasions. Science-literacy connections. Interestingly, of all three groups, the librarians, mentioned the science–literacy connection the least. The researcher perceived this as the fact that they take that piece for granted—being librarians—and so did not point it out as much as the others. SC-L3 did point out that she had books about the topics, in addition to the book that was read, out for students to view. SA-L1 responded that students were checking out more books on the topics covered by the stations. In the focus group interview, when the librarians were specifically asked about any increases in science reading, all but one responded that they were definitely seeing more books checked out on the topics covered. Support for student learning of science concepts through different learning styles. SB-L2 summed up this idea from the stations the best in her blog post: “I think when students are given an opportunity to move around, touch things, manipulate and discuss, it is more interesting to them.” SC-L3 also commented that SISL allowed for different learning styles. SD-L4 described this as “addressing different intellectual styles,” and stated on the questionnaire that the fact that the program addressed so many different learning styles was part of the overall objective of the SISL program. SD-L4 also commented, “The hands on experience (which catered to many learning styles) allowed the students to see science in a more investigating/puzzle solving manner.”
  • 107. 96 Support for special education and ELL students. SD-L4 pointed out that on her campus, as on most of the campuses in the district, special education students are in what are called collaborative classes, and so tend to be mostly in one fifth grade classroom. She believed that the SISL station activities were suitable for these students, and also made comments in the questionnaire that she perceived the program to be adaptable for different instruction, as well as providing “more instruction for those who needed it.” Overall, as might be expected from their willingness to participate in the study, the four librarians had strong positive perceptions about the SISL program and its impact on both collaboration and student academic achievement. Based on their comments, especially in the focus group interview, they all felt strongly about the continuation and spread of the SISL program. The section that follows is a presentation of how the two ASTs responses matched up to the same set of themes. Academic Support Teachers of Science Research questions two and five applied to the academic support teachers (AST). Two academic support teachers participated in the study, code names SA-A1 and SB-A2. As noted earlier, these types of specialists were found at the majority of the Title I schools in the district. Since they were to help with science curriculum, individuals in their position were included in the original pilot of the SISL program. Of the two study participants, one was a part of the original pilot and so had been involved in the stations from the beginning. The other participant had been introduced to the stations through her librarian’s involvement in a later professional development opportunity.
  • 108. 97 SA-A1 is a female with 12 years of teaching experience. She has a bachelor’s degree and her certification is self-contained PK–8. At the time of the study, she was in her fifth year as an AST at School A. She provided detailed answers for the questionnaire; however, she chose not to provide any additional information through the blog questions. At the time of the study, she had collaborated for the year on one set of the SISL stations on the topic of earth science. Based on the information provided by the SA-A1, it appeared she was collaborating on the set of stations, Monster Bones, about fossils, sedimentary rocks, erosion, and weathering. SB-A2 is a male with 13 years of teaching in public school; he did not indicate how many years he had taught in a private setting. His highest level of education is a master’s degree, and his areas of teaching certification are general education K–8, special education K–12, and integrated science K–8. Similarly to SA-A1, SB-A2 had also been in the position of AST for 5 years at his current school of employment. At the time of the study, he had collaborated on one set of stations, Monster Bones. Research Question Two Research question two was, “How do the academic support teachers of science, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program?” For the ASTs, the one source of data collected was the questionnaires. They had the opportunity to respond to the blog, but neither AST chose to participate. The researcher analyzed their responses using the four major themes having to do with their experiences as team members and their perceptions of the other team members. The following is a summary of their remarks as pertains to the four themes.
  • 109. 98 Collaborative role of team members. Pointed out by both ASTs was a strong indication that the collaboration for the stations, including the design and implementation, was done by the two of them. Neither AST mentioned that the teacher played any role in setting up or conducting the stations. The two ASTs indicated that their roles were to plan with the librarian, and then to purchase the materials and set up the stations. SB-A2 also perceived this collaboration as one of the benefits for the fifth graders: “Students have seen that I respect and collaborate with our wonderful librarian. Although that has always been true, students never have the chance to see it except during SISL.” Teacher’s role in collaboration. In the responses, SA-A1 never mentioned the teacher at all; indicating, at most, that she perceived the teacher as having a supporting role. SB-A2 only mentioned the teacher briefly. One time, he placed himself and the teacher in a situation in which they wanted to choose stations for the students; however, they agreed to follow the guidance of the librarian and allow self-choice. The only other mention by SA-A1 was to indicate that the stations served to encourage the teachers to allow the students more choices about with whom they would work, and allowing the students to communicate information to each other during the stations. Lessons before and after stations. Both of the ASTs made comments that indicated a strong belief that the stations were not to be the only way the students received knowledge about the specific topic. In this regard, they seemed to perceive this as the teacher’s major role. For example, in response to a question about the time taken to conduct the SISL stations, SA-A1 specifically stated, “Additional lessons need to be taught either before or after the stations to reinforce concepts that students might not get
  • 110. 99 on their own.” In another comment, she specifically stated that the SISL program was a review of certain concepts. Effects on other teaching. SB-A2 mentioned a couple of times that the SISL program had affected the teaching of other lessons. He indicated that participation in SISL had provided a structure for lessons that had been transferred by “those of us who participated” into other lessons with positive results. He also indicated at one point that the format of SISL had allowed for him to uncover a problem that students had been having about a concept that he believed would not have been discovered “without several components provided during instruction on this topic only during the SISL lesson.” Research Question Five The fifth research question was, “What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the academic support teachers of science attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project?” Once again, the sole source of responses for information for this question came from the questionnaire. The majority of the questions, however, had to do with student learning so there were numerous comments made about how the stations contributed to student learning and their science academic achievement. Using the themes developed for the academic achievement information, the researcher summarized the responses of the two ASTs. Stations’ overall enhancement of science learning. In more than one response, SA-A1 and SB-A2 mentioned how they perceived SISL to have an influence on the overall enhancement of science learning in general. Tasks like drawing conclusions and the use of higher order thinking skills have been identified as essential skills for present and future science learning (NRC, 2012). SA-A1 stated it specifically in what she saw as
  • 111. 100 the overall objective or goal of the SISL program. In response to a question about whether they had seen an example of students drawing conclusions from various pieces of evidence, SB-A2 responded that each SISL achieved that goal; and SA-A1 wrote about a specific fossil example that she believed allowed students to draw conclusions about past activities through the studying of remains. In three different responses, SB-A2 mentioned that student engagement was key. He saw this as indication that the students were motivated to work on the stations and stated, “Students are better able to retain and access information when they are engaged during learning.” He also commented that the students had good behavior and remained focused on the tasks and were able to answer questions about what they were doing. While SA-A1 did not mention student engagement as often, she did list it as the way she believed that SISL supported the way that students learn best: “Students learn best when they are engaged. The stations allow students to choose the activities that appeal to them, therefore ensuring their active participation.” Similar to the librarians, the specific question about in what ways, if any, did the ASTs believe SISL to provide scaffolding for the students, the ASTs provided more responses regarding their perceptions. Two of the statements pertaining to overall science learning, Facilitating the understanding of subject content, and Organizing the way for new learning, were chosen by both of the academic support teachers. Both these statements seem to indicate a perception by the ASTs that SISL provides a definite enhancement to science learning. Use of best practices in science learning. As discussed in the literature review chapter, several key practices are considered best practices for science learning. These
  • 112. 101 are cooperative learning and collaboration among students, correcting students’ misconceptions about science, use of prior knowledge, the use of technology, and making the science–literacy connection. While the researcher believed all of these to be essential components of SISL, she was curious and pleased to learn that the ASTs pointed out the use of these practices in the SISL and how the ASTs believed they were beneficial to the overall program. Cooperative learning and collaboration. In several responses, SA-A1 and SB- A2 commented on the cooperative work of the students. One specific question on the questionnaire was a request to name a specific situation that they had witnessed of students collaborating. SA-A1 listed two specific examples. In one, she claimed that the students were working together to complete the task and, at another, students had to take on different roles in order to complete a specific task. SB-A2 also gave two different examples. In one, the students helped to correct each other’s mistakes in order to correctly complete a task and, in the other, students took turns as needed to complete an activity at another station. Another question regarded what opportunities they saw in the stations for students to interact. SA-A1 and SB-A2 both made comments about the discussion piece that the students were able to engage in and, specifically, SB-A2 noted that the conversation was usually always on task. They also made mention of the fact that allowing the students to rotate through the stations provided the opportunity for the students to be more engaged and to practice taking turns and sharing. In another response to a question about students being motivated to work on the stations, SA-A1 noted, “Students worked cooperatively with others at the same station and they were participating actively.”
  • 113. 102 Misconceptions in science. Another area that SB-A2 mentioned that was not directly addressed in a question, was addressing students’ misconceptions that they might have about science. He gave a lengthy example about how they were able to uncover a misconception students were making about layers of fossils. He believed that the format of SISL was the main reason they were able to uncover it. Use of prior knowledge. There was a specific question regarding whether the participants believed there was anything in the SISL program that encouraged students to build on prior knowledge. SB-A2 noted that the book used at the beginning of the station is specifically “structured to provide students with background knowledge.” He believed that the visual element of the book and the group interaction worked together to activate student knowledge. SB-A2 added that the stations are interrelated and information learned at one could be applied to another. In response to the same question, SA-A1 wrote that the stations were a review of content already learned, implying that students would be adding to their previous knowledge. Use of technology. A vital component of the stations, as originally designed, was the use of technology to engage students in science. Each set of stations was to have one or two technology-based stations as part of the rotation. For School A, this included the use of computers and iPods. SA-A1 commented that the use of these technologies allowed the students to interact with the science content in new ways. She also provided a comment about the technology in her remarks about the overall goal of SISL by claiming that the technology was one of the ways to enhance the science learning. SB- A2, however, made no mention of the technology in his remarks.
  • 114. 103 Science–literacy connections. The other essential component of the SISL program is the use of literature as the introduction to the stations; however, only one of the ASTs referred to the literature piece in their comments. As mentioned in the previous section on prior knowledge, SB-A2 made a point of describing how the reading tied into the stations and was used to activate student knowledge about the topic. In addition, he also commented about how the stations combined to cover language arts and science TEKS. Support for student learning of science concepts through different learning styles. Inherently built in to the stations was a way to address various learning styles. As long as students were able to choose the stations they visited, then they could participate in those activities they found most engaging and enjoyable. Both ASTs made comments noting this fact in their responses. Once again, SA-A1 addressed this in her statement about the overall goal of the stations when she included a remark about “incorporating art and the use of high interest science tools.” SB-A2 referred to the SISL program as a “trans-disciplinary study” that was more closely related to real-life that led to “more engaged learning for more students.” He more specifically stated this in response to a question about prior knowledge that he apparently misinterpreted to mean something about learning styles. In his response, SB- A2 made several remarks about students who liked art and the stations they enjoyed, as well as students who were more engaged with the computer activities as being those who were good with computer games. SB-A2 in another response made mention of the use of allowing the students to self-select the stations in which they participated. He addressed the fact that he and the
  • 115. 104 teachers were hesitant at first to allow this free choice, but when they agreed to it, he was happy to note, “Students were much more engaged when they could select their own preference of station.” SB-A2 went on to comment that students moved based on their individual focus levels and interest. Support for special education and ELL students. Public schools have the task of meeting the needs of a wide range of students. In the targeted district and many other districts, these students include special education students of various levels and English Language Learners (ELL). While there were no specific questions regarding the different learning needs, SB-A2 made mention of how the stations did address the needs of these students. In response to a question about how SISL supported how students learn best, he pointed out that the hands-on activities and many visual aids as well as the small groups, while beneficial for all students, were particularly effective for ELL and special education students. In response to another question about scaffolding, SB-A2 pointed out that there are state standards known as the TEKS for ELL students and, “This lesson fully exemplifies best practice for these students, as well as for special education students.” The information provided by the ASTs was informative and provided insight into their perceptions of the SISL program as a whole. During the data analysis of their questionnaire comments, the researcher strived to collect the responses that indicated their beliefs about the collaboration of the team and the different impacts on the fifth graders’ science education. The next section is a presentation of the responses from the fifth grade teachers.
  • 116. 105 Fifth Grade Teachers Research questions three and six applied to the teachers. From the four study schools, there were 15 fifth grade teachers. The librarian from School D had informed the researcher that only one teacher from her school had completed the SISL stations. In addition, the librarian from School A let the researcher know that only two of her teachers agreed to participate when the original permission was sought from the principal. Therefore, the researcher sent 11 invitations to complete the questionnaire to the four different campuses. The questionnaire was sent as a link to each individual’s school email address. The researcher also sent reminders after 1 week, and then again at the 2- week mark. In the end, six teachers chose to respond to the questionnaire and participate in the study. SA-T1 is a male with 12 years of teaching experience. He has a master’s degree and his certifications are a grade 4–8 generalist and K–12 principal. He had been a fifth grade teacher for 8 years, with 5 years in his current position at School A. He gave brief answers for the questionnaire and often only responded with “no,” “none,” or “not sure” when asked for examples. He chose not to participate in the blog. When asked the question about how many stations he had collaborated on during the school year, he answered six. Since he was from School A and the AST and librarian responded with one SISL station set on fossils, it is presumed to mean that he completed one set of stations that had six different individual centers. SA-T2 is a female with 29 years of teaching experience. Her highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree and her certifications are in elementary education and all-level special education. At the time of the study, she had taught fifth grade for 3 years,
  • 117. 106 all at the current campus. She also gave fairly brief answers to the questionnaire, but did respond to every question with some response. She also chose not to participate in the blog. She had collaborated on one set of stations about fossils. SB-T3 is a female with 18 years of teaching experience. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She had been teaching fifth grade for 15 years, 8 years of those at her current campus. Her responses to the questionnaire were fairly detailed. She, however, also chose not to participate in the blog. She had also collaborated on one set of SISL stations about fossils. SB-T4 is a female and had 15 years of teaching experience at the time of the study. She has a master’s degree and was certified for grades 1–8. She had taught fifth grade for 13 years, all at her current campus. She was the first teacher to respond to the questionnaire and gave good detailed responses. She chose not to participate in the blog. She too had collaborated on the one set of stations about fossils. SC-T5 is a female with 30 years of teaching experience. She has a master’s degree and is certified in elementary education and special education. She is a special education collaboration teacher, and apparently had not actually participated in conducting the stations. She had been present at the explanation from her school’s librarian and knew a little about it, so she answered a few of the questions, and her information is included as appropriate. SC-T5 was also the only teacher that chose to respond to the blog; however, since she had not actually participated in the stations, her perceptions are based on the idea of the stations rather than the actually implementation. SC-T6 was the only other male teacher. He has 23 years of teaching experience. He also has a master’s degree and is certified in elementary education and sixth grade
  • 118. 107 earth science. He had been teaching fifth grade for 3 years, all at his current campus. His responses to the questionnaire were brief, although he did provide an answer for every questions. He did not participate in the blog and, like the others, had completed one set of stations on fossils. Research Question Three Research question three was, “How do the fifth grade teachers, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program?” For the fifth grade teachers, the main source of data collected was the questionnaires and SC-T5’s blog responses. The researcher used the same procedure to analyze the teachers’ responses as with the other two groups. The four major themes of collaboration as was found in the previous two groups were not as prevalent in the teacher responses. The only mentions of collaboration were made in a few of the questionnaire responses. Collaborative roles of team members. The mention of the collaboration from the teachers was generally limited to only those questions that specifically regarded collaboration. Since only two of the campuses had ASTs, the researcher expected those responses to be different than the other two. Interestingly enough, even the responses from teachers at the same campus varied. For School A, the two teachers’ responses included no mention of collaboration with the librarian or AST prior to the actual conduction of the stations. SA-T1 said, “We gave a list of TEKS to be covered,” indicating little involvement in the actual planning. The other teacher, SA-T2, only discussed her role in the library during the stations. The teachers from the other school with an AST, School B, had a quite different perspective
  • 119. 108 on the collaboration. SB-T4 stated that they met as a team with the AST and librarian and decided together what topics the students most needed. She also stated in her response to the question about what she saw as the overall objective or goal of the SISL program that it was “to collaborate and plan effective lessons.” This teacher also remarked in her additional comments that she thought the AST and librarian were good role models for the students. Conversely, the other teacher, SB-T3, claimed to be only a facilitator and that “the librarian and science AST were really in charge.” The other two school’s teachers had even less to say about collaboration. For School C, SC-T6 stated that the librarian planned everything and asked the teachers if the topics fit the curriculum. He said that teachers responded that the topics fit and that they thought the kids would benefit. The other response from this school was from SC-T5, the teacher that did not actually participate in the stations, so she did not respond to the question about her role. Unfortunately, the one teacher who participated in the stations at School D chose not to participate in the study, so there are no responses from teachers at that school. Teacher’s role in collaboration. When they commented on their roles, the teachers seemed to see themselves as teachers providing the standards for guiding the lessons, and then as facilitators during the lessons. For example, SB-T4 specifically stated that during a meeting with the librarian and AST, they expressed a need for earth science since it was the “lowest scoring TEK.” Presumably, SB-T3 was in this same meeting; however, she described her role as being that of facilitator. The question specifically asked for the respondent to write what they felt their role was during
  • 120. 109 planning and conducting of SISL. SB-T3 may have only been responding to the part about conducting the actual stations, however. As previously noted, the teachers at School A responded with similar beliefs. In her response regarding her role in the planning and conducting of SISL, SA-T2 commented, “I took the students to the library and guided them through the stations.” Her fellow teacher, SA-T1, responded to the same question with a comment about how they gave a list of TEKS to be covered. Lessons before and after stations. Once again, not all teachers mentioned what they thought about the lessons before and after the SISL stations. The few that did respond supported the statements previously made by the ASTs and librarians that the lessons in the stations were a review of what students had already learned. SC-T6 specifically stated that the overall objective or goal of SISL was “to reinforce what the students have learned in the classroom.” He then made the same statement in the next question about ways that the SISL program supports the way that students learn best, seeming to indicate that he placed great importance on this piece of SISL. The only other comment that made reference to lessons outside the stations was a remark by SA-T2 that SISL provided “enrichment to lessons taught in the classroom.” The other teacher participants did not make any comments about the idea of SISL as review or what happened before or after the students had participated in the SISL program. Effects on other teaching. Unlike the ASTs, the teachers made no mention of if or how their teaching was affected by the SISL program format or lessons. While the ASTs mentioned several times about how other lessons had been influenced by SISL, the teachers made no mention of this.
  • 121. 110 Research Question Six The sixth research question was, “What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the fifth grade teachers attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project?” Once again the major source of responses for information for this question came from the questionnaires. However, SC-T5 did provide a brief blog response that had to do with academic achievement so it is included in the following section. The teachers seemed more reserved in their responses and beliefs about the contributions of SISL. Stations overall enhancement of science learning. All but one of the teachers, SC-T6, made remarks about the SISL program that indicated a link to increased science learning. SB-T3 believed it allowed students to “connect with in science” and to provide realistic experiences with some of the more abstract ideas leading to “an increased understanding of the concepts addressed.” She further noted that grades had improved. Even though she had not actually seen the stations, SC-T5 saw them as a great overview of certain topics. In the one blog response, SC-T5 pointed out, even though she had not participated in rotation of the stations with a class, that she believed “that the stations have an impact on the students’ overall interest in science, and their understanding of science in general.” SA-T2 believed that the SISL provided enrichment to previously taught lessons and that the program helped with retention and kept the students engaged. However, she did not seem to notice any changes in grades or interest by the students. SA-T1 did concede that he thought the SISL program provided “a deeper understanding of the TEKS”; however, he was not sure about any changes in student grades after SISL. The final teacher, SB-T4, also believed the stations provided real experiences as well as
  • 122. 111 “higher order questioning” and that it contributed to other higher-order thinking skills, such as synthesizing and applying. She even said, “I recommend the stations over any other traditional method” pointing out that it was a good use of time and that students were thoroughly engaged and interested, and she saw SISL as a positive experience for all her students. Similar to the librarians, the specific question about in what ways, if any, did the teachers believe SISL to provide scaffolding for the students produced more responses regarding the teachers’ perceptions. Once again, the teachers were provided the same list of choices to choose from. SC-T5 did not answer this question, so there were five sets of responses. One of the statements pertaining to overall science learning was chosen by all five of the teachers and another statement was chosen by four of the teachers. The statement, Facilitating the understanding of subject content, was chosen by all five teachers, while the statement, Organizing the way for new learning, was chosen by four of the teachers. SC-T6 did not choose it. Both these statements seem to indicate a perception by the teachers that SISL provided a definite enhancement to science learning. Use of best practices in science learning. As with the other two groups of participants, the researcher carefully reviewed the data for remarks indicating perceptions of the teachers about how SISL demonstrated the use of best practices in science learning. In this area, the teachers had several responses dealing with the five separate subthemes established. Once again, most responses came from four of the teachers. Cooperative learning and collaboration. Teachers were not as strong in their beliefs that SISL supported cooperative and collaborative learning. For example, in a question specifically asked for an example of student collaboration, SB-T4 and SC-T6
  • 123. 112 only mentioned that at one of the stations, students had helped each other and talked to those needing help in a positive manner. SC-T6 mentioned that the students gave each other feedback and were discussing the information at the various stations. SA-T2 also focused on the helping aspect in one of her remarks about the students using a specific science tool. She also focused on the idea of sharing with the tools and observations of the students. Misconceptions in science. Only SB-T3 made a reference that dealt with difficult concepts for students. She stated that one of the stations allowed the students to create a real object that they could then relate to a difficult vocabulary word. Use of prior knowledge. Teacher SB-T4 made a connection to this with a statement about how SISL helped students in one of the ways they learn best by helping them to make “connections to things and experiences in their life.” She then reiterated this in her response to the question about building on students’ existing knowledge base and in examples for the specific question about students applying prior knowledge. SA- T2 also expressed a belief that SISL helped to reinforce what students had already learned and to “deepen understanding” of the topic. SB-T3 perceived the stations as not only providing the knowledge to make connections, but also providing background knowledge to build on. In one question response, she specifically made mention of the school’s Title 1 status and how her “students do not always have experiences they can connect with. These stations create those experiences.” SC-T6 believed that most of the stations had the students applying prior knowledge because it was done as a review of previous lessons. He saw them as reviewing and reinforcing previously learned concepts.
  • 124. 113 Use of technology. Once again, SB-T4 perceived this as one of the ways in which SISL supported the way students learn best and “allow them to make connections.” The only other comment was from SC-T6, who mentioned the use of a program to create food chains. This fact is interesting since one of the parameters of the stations was to include one or two technology-based stations for every round of stations. Since both the librarians and ASTs referenced the technology aspect, it was assumed to be included in the stations. It is curious that the teachers made so little mention in their comments. Chapter five includes further exploration of this aspect. Science–literacy connections. SB-T4 perceived the science–literary connections as a strong goal of the SISL program. She mentioned it when she responded to the question about the overall goal, as well as in remarks about how she thought SISL supported the way students learn best and again in two different questions about building on the students existing knowledge base and about students applying prior knowledge. She was also the only teacher who commented on the enthusiasm and participation of the students during the read-aloud at the beginning of the stations. In remarks on another question about what she thought students gained from the SISL program, SB-T4 once again mentioned this as “connections between nonfiction text to hands-on lab work.” Support for student learning of science concepts through different learning styles. Teachers SB-T4, SB-T3, SA-T2, and SA-T1 identified the hands-on experience found in SISL as one of the ways students learn best. SA-T2 also mentioned that the chance to choose their own stations and the lack of a time constraint encouraged students to build on what they already knew. SA-T1 commented that the opportunity for students “to explore on their own” was a benefit. As SB-T3 stated, SISL “gives them the
  • 125. 114 opportunity to have more of the types of experiences they love!” and she also commented in another question that the SISL had appeal for all learning styles. In her blog response, SC-T5 implied that the science lab was sometimes too structured and that the students needed lots of hands-on, and that the stations provided “the science with hands-on, but not necessarily with lots of teacher input.” Support for at-risk, special education and ELL students. The teachers did not specifically mention as often as the librarians and ASTs about the support for these types of learners. SB-T3 did mention that she believed SISL provided reinforcement of previously taught topics for “students that struggle.” When asked about changes in students’ science grades after the implementation of SISL, SB-T4 remarked, “I have seen a gain in student science scores, especially those students who are of lower socioeconomic status.” The teachers were not as forthcoming with their beliefs about the program as were the librarians and ASTs. While their responses were somewhat limited, there were several good comments and points made that indicated how these particular teachers view the SISL program. The next chapter includes discussion of the three different perspectives in reference to the information presented in the literature review, especially as it pertains to the potential of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library as a viable program for science learning.
  • 126. 115 CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS Anyone who has worked in education knows that new ideas come and go, often with no real understanding of the potential benefits or regard for how teachers perceive the value of the program. The reason for this research study was to understand a particular science program being implemented in a large school district in Texas. The rationale for the study was that there needed to be an understanding of how the various people implementing the program perceived its value, both as a collaborative practice and as a valid resource for enhancing the science education of the intended student population of fifth graders. Through the use of a qualitative case study to gain an understanding of how the individuals involved in the program view not only the program, but also its value, this research study draws attention to the need in education to value the voices of those involved in the day-to-day task of education students. In addition, it provides an example of a program that was developed from a focus on a specific educational need, based on current research, and developed by librarians. This study was an attempt to understand better how teachers, librarians, and academic support teachers of science work together and how such endeavors can impact student learning. The researcher used a multi-site qualitative case study to collect data through the use of a questionnaire consisting of a few demographic questions and a series of open- ended questions, a librarian focus group interview, and a blog with questions for participant comments and responses. The participants were from four elementary schools in the same large, urban school district in Texas. The 12 participants consisted of four librarians (one from each school), two academic support teachers of science (one from
  • 127. 116 each of two of the schools), and six fifth grade teachers. The researcher coded and analyzed the data first according to the research questions, and then by categories and subcategories using the concepts introduced in the literature review. Since there were no findings in the literature search on any programs similar to the SISL stations, the researcher based the literature review on the education concepts around which the original stations were designed. The literature review began with the history of constructivism and those individuals who had made contributions of constructivist concepts most aligned with science education. Those considered were Dewey and personal, meaningful, student-centered education; Piaget and developmental stages; Vygotsky and the zone of proximal development; Bruner and social constructivism; and von Glasersfeld and radical constructivism. The next section of the literature review was current research on science education of elementary students. This section included a review of best practices, as well as information about misconceptions of students, the use of technology, depth of understanding, and the connections of science and literacy. Finally, the literature review included a summary of current research on staff collaboration and libraries as contributors to academic achievement. The current study was based on the following research questions: 1. How do the librarians, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program? 2. How do the academic support teachers of science, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program?
  • 128. 117 3. How do the fifth grade teachers, as team members of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library project, describe their experiences with the program? 4. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the librarians attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project? 5. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the academic support teachers of science attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project? 6. What, if any, of the science academic achievements of the fifth graders do the fifth grade teachers attribute to the Science Investigations Stations in the Library project? Chapter four included the findings as related to these research questions. The overall findings were that all three groups perceive the stations to be a worthwhile program that is benefiting the science learning of the fifth grade students. However, the librarians perceived the organization and presentation of the stations as something all three participants should be collaborating on, but the academic support teachers and teachers perceived these tasks as being the responsibility of the librarian and academic support teacher, when available, or the librarian alone. This chapter includes the discussion, conclusions, and recommendations based on the findings of the qualitative case study of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library (SISL) program as it has been implemented in one school district. The chapter begins with a discussion of the themes that the researcher identified in the data analysis as they apply to the research questions. The categories directly tied to the research
  • 129. 118 questions were used to code the data discussed in the previous chapter. The discussion is used to bring the perceptions of the three participant groups together and compare them to the relevant literature from chapter two. The discussion takes into account the literature on constructivism, science teaching, staff collaboration, and libraries as contributors to academic achievement. The chapter continues with some overall conclusions based on the findings. The findings are then reviewed and discussed with regard to implications for practice for the program and then implications for further research. Finally, recommendations are made for future research with regards to programs such as the SISL involving staff collaboration, as well as with those designed for advancing science learning. Discussion In this section, the study findings are discussed through comparing and contrasting of the views of the three different participant groups. The section is organized by the themes introduced in chapter four: 1. Perceptions about the roles of the different collaborative team members (Research Questions 1, 2, and 3) 2. Specific perceptions about the teacher role (Research Questions 1, 2, and 3) 3. Perceptions that teachers were essential for the lessons before and after the stations (Research Questions 1, 2, and 3). 4. Perceptions that the stations had an effect on teaching of other lessons (Research Question 1, 2, and 3) 5. Perceptions about the stations overall enhancement of science learning (Research Questions 4, 5, and 6)
  • 130. 119 6. Perceptions about the stations as indications of the use of best practices in science learning (Research Questions, 4, 5, and 6) 7. Perceptions about the stations providing support for student learning of science concepts through different learning styles (Research Questions, 4, 5, and 6) 8. Perceptions about the stations support for at-risk, special education, and English language learners (Research Questions 4, 5, and 6) Perceptions About Collaborative Roles of Team Members As noted earlier, the librarians had a different perspective on the collaborative piece than did the other groups. The librarians expressed a desire for true collaboration, identified as integrated curriculum, the highest model presented by Montiel-Overall (2005). Also, from the librarians’ perspective, SISL seemed to be high in all five important constructs: interest, improved learning, intensity, innovation, and integration (Montiel-Overall, 2005). However, the librarians did express that their collaboration with the teachers was limited, even though they would have preferred more. The only exception was School D, where the librarian and the one teacher did seem to work in the integrated curriculum model. The academic support teachers at Schools A and B were content to work with the librarians and allow the teachers to maintain a facilitator role during the actual presentation of the stations. However, since neither one commented on the blog, it is difficult to tell if, in reality, they would prefer more collaboration from the teachers. Teachers, on the other hand, viewed their role as one of providing the appropriate standards and facilitating during the stations. Comments expressed by the librarians during the focus group interview seemed to indicate that, while they would like
  • 131. 120 the teachers to be more involved, they did not actually believe it would happen unless the stations became a part of the mandated curriculum. For those schools with academic support teachers, in this case, the Title I schools, collaboration with only the librarian and the AST appears to be sufficient. However, for those schools without ASTs, the lack of teacher collaboration has the potential to hurt the sustainability of the program. Even those schools with ASTs would be better served with more support from the teachers. Research has shown that for programs to be successful, it is necessary for the majority of the participants to “buy in” and that true change does not occur until all participants are instrumental in implementing the program (Hall & Hord, 2011). Specific Perceptions About the Teacher Role While nothing in the literature review specifically singled out the teacher’s role in situations such as the SISL program, research on change implementation indicates that for complete and effective change to take place, all individuals should be involved (Hall & Hord, 2011). Since the program was designed for enhancing and improving the science achievement of fifth graders, it would be beneficial for those students’ teachers to have an active role in the SISL program. The perceptions of the three groups indicated that they saw the teacher’s role as being limited to what occurred prior to and after the stations and as someone who provided the necessary standards that should be addressed. In addition, the teachers were described as facilitators who helped monitor and raise questions during the actual stations. This perception was from all three groups. Once again, this has the potential to harm the continuity of the program, as well as to affect the expansion of the program to other schools, particularly at those schools without an AST.
  • 132. 121 If only the AST and librarians are receiving the professional development and seen as the sole implementers of the SISL program, then many schools will most likely never even attempt the program. Raising the expectation of the teacher role and bringing teachers into the implementation of the program at a campus from the first professional development session would seem to increase the program’s potential for success. Perceptions That Teachers Were Essential for the Lessons Before and After the Stations Since this was not a specific question on the questionnaire, not all participants made remarks that applied to the concept that teachers are essential for the lessons before and after the SISL stations. The most frequent remarks were general statements that indicated that the stations were a review of concepts previously taught in the classroom. Also, one of the ASTs had commented that lessons after the stations should be implemented to make sure that the concepts were understood. The program was designed as a review or reinforcement of previously taught concepts; therefore, the perceptions of the participants were in line with what should be expected for such a program. These perceptions are also in line with current research that indicates that students need to have multiple opportunities in various situations in order to truly learn in-depth concepts such as those found in science (Donovan & Bransford, 2005). It is clear from the participants that each group understands that the SISL program is to be used as only one representation of the information for the students. From the understanding of the idea that the stations are meant for review and/or reinforcement, it can be assumed that the teachers understand that they have an essential role in conducting lessons prior to and as follow up for the SISL program. It was also clear from the comments of the librarians
  • 133. 122 and ASTs that they viewed the lessons before and after as essential to the students’ science learning. Perceptions of Effects on Teaching of Other Lessons According to Martin (2009), individuals in co-teaching situations learn different teaching practices from each other without consciously thinking about it; they also begin to use these practices. In the situation of the SISL stations, it could be expected, as the teachers, librarians, and ASTs worked together during the stations, that certain variations in teaching practice would be observed and potentially later incorporated by one of the other participants. The librarians indicated through the blog and interview that they would attempt in the following year to review the CDB data more closely; which, while not an actual teaching practice per se, it is definitely a task more common to classroom teachers and indicates a willingness on the librarians’ part to work more on effecting specific learning outcomes. One librarian also indicated that the stations might be having an effect on the teachers’ lesson planning, as she indicated that her fifth grade teachers were checking out books to use in the subjects of reading and math. Only one of the ASTs mentioned how SISL had affected teaching outside the program. His comments indicated that, from his perspective, the format of SISL had changed the structure of other lessons not only by him, but also by the librarian and the fifth grade teachers. Unfortunately, neither the librarian nor teachers at his campus made any comments that supported his viewpoint. In fact, none of the teachers made mention of the format or lessons having an effect on either their or anyone else’s teaching practices.
  • 134. 123 Perceptions About Overall Enhancement of Science Learning Berube (2008) believed that the most vital piece of science learning was the idea that students learn through independent discovery and their own experiences. This piece is a major tenet of constructivist learning and was a major component of the original idea of SISL. The whole idea of the SISL program was that students would be working in small peer groups to explore and conduct experiments with little teacher guidance. The teachers, librarian, and academic support teacher’s roles were to facilitate the learning by asking questions of the students and encouraging deeper thinking. From the comments of all three participant groups there is a strong indication that this aspect of the program is its most important and successful objective. All three of the groups made several comments about the enthusiasm and engagement of the fifth grade students. Students of all ages have much deeper reasoning skills than was previously believed (Metz, 2011; Michaels et al., 2008). The SISL program builds on this potential for deeper learning by allowing students to explore those topics or areas that are most meaningful to them and often to come to deeper understandings as they work on the various tasks. Also, the stations allow for the teacher and librarian to move throughout the groups providing scaffolding as needed to help the students grow in their thinking. This feedback at the point of need can provide important reasoning skills that students can utilize in the future (Michaels et al., 2008). Specifically, as noted by all participants on the questionnaires, one of the main ways that the stations helped with scaffolding was by facilitating the understanding of the subject content. This information supports the idea that the stations are a way to review and reinforce content. Furthermore, all
  • 135. 124 participants, but one teacher, also believed that the stations helped students by organizing the way for new learning. These perceptions point to the fact that the SISL stations may be a program that models the various trends of current science learning noted by the National Research Council (as cited in Pratt & Pratt, 2004). These include students using prior knowledge and building new knowledge by expanding on what they already know. In addition, it includes the ideas of learning in unique situations and through social interaction. Perceptions About Use of Best Practices With the introduction of any new program in the public school setting, there should be an understanding that what is being proposed meets the ideas of best practices for the particular subject it is met to address. While the stations were designed with some of these best practices in mind, it is important to discover if the individuals implementing the program recognize and acknowledge these best practices. For the SISL program and science in general, several best practices have been researched as ones that are especially productive for use with elementary students. These are cooperative learning and collaboration, how to handle misconceptions in science, the importance of prior knowledge, the use of technology, and the science-literacy connection. Cooperative learning and collaboration. One important practice that has been identified for its effectiveness in science learning is cooperative learning and collaboration (Berube, 2008; Michaels et al., 2008; Winokur et al., 2009). This idea includes the use of discussion as an important learning tool for students. The idea of discussion and learning from peers is central to SISL. Discussion occurs right at the beginning of the stations during the reading of the literature piece. During the reading
  • 136. 125 discussion, students are asked to respond to questions and provide input on vocabulary and understandings. While none of the data directly addressed the use of the literacy piece, comments were made by both librarians and teachers about the rich discussion that occurred during the reading of the chosen book. The discussion that occurred during the reading of the specific book guided by the AST and librarian demonstrates a guided discussion that allowed for restating of responses, expanding on given information, and encouraging more in-depth explanations of science concepts (Michaels et al., 2008). It is important to the fidelity of the SISL program that there is a rich discussion of concepts and vocabulary centered on a carefully chosen literature book. Students had the opportunity for even further cooperation and collaboration during the rotation though the stations. All three participant groups recognized that students were working together positively and helping each other as needed to complete the various tasks. Librarians specifically mentioned the rich discussions that they witnessed from several student groups as they worked. ASTs and teachers also noted that the students worked together and helped each other as needed. None of the participants made any comments that suggested that the students were not working on task and in a positive manner with their peers. This discussion time with peers, as suggested by Tobin and Tippins (1993), is important for students to help to clarify and expand on science concepts and understandings. In situations like SISL, it also allows for students to think about potential new problems, search for solutions, and draw conclusions in new ways that might not be possible in the regular classroom. Misconceptions in science. The reading portion of the stations seems to play another important role in uncovering potential misconceptions of the students. While
  • 137. 126 discussion of vocabulary occurs throughout the stations, it is during the reading of the story that the librarian and AST strive to bring out those terms that apply to the current set of stations. In addition, students were encouraged to share their understandings of these terms. The teacher, librarian, and academic support teacher (at two of the schools) provided input and feedback to ensure a group understanding of the important science concepts. According to Michaels et al. (2008), this discussion is a vital step to students developing the accepted science knowledge. By providing this reading and discussion time during the stations, students have a chance to clarify their ideas developed from previous lessons and to defend their understandings. This discussion time supports those findings of Guzzetti (2000) that show the students need to be required to talk about their ideas and asked to defend their conclusions through the use of text. It also provides them the necessary vocabulary for working within the stations that occur after the story. In addition, teachers can gain an understanding of the current ideas of the students and the reasons for any misunderstandings (Harlen et al., 2001). Specifically, providing the key vocabulary, such as was done by SC-L3 or having the students write the definitions along with an illustration, as done by SD-L4, are important ways to uncover misconceptions. Also, this vocabulary work can help teachers to gather important information that will allow them to determine the appropriate scaffolding steps they need to provide to help the students gain a clearer understanding of the concept (Olson, 2009). Unless students are encouraged to use the vocabulary in a variety of settings, it is difficult to be sure that they truly have an understanding of key science concepts that they will need for future science learning.
  • 138. 127 The lengthy example provided by SB-A2 is a specific instance in which, through the stations, students were asked to clarify and defend their ideas. It also was a great opportunity for the teacher to gauge the current level of understanding of the students on important concepts in a less formal setting. Also through the activities, teachers can observe what students are doing and can use their nonverbal responses to gauge understandings as well. In addition, students can expand and develop important abstract concepts through the creation of objects to help them define these ideas in the stations. SB-T3 mentioned that she witnessed a student doing just this during the stations. Prior knowledge. In the summary of their current findings on how students learned science, the National Research Council (as cited in Pratt & Pratt, 2004) emphasized that new knowledge is based on what is already known and believed; this idea is referred to as prior knowledge or background knowledge. Since SISL is used as a review of concepts already taught, the stations are a way to discover what the students have actually learned about the particular concepts and those areas that still need some refining. In addition, SISL can provide one more experience or exposure to add to the students’ “academically oriented experiential base,” one of two major factors that influences a person’s ability to develop background knowledge (Marzano, 2004, p. 5). The majority of the participants from all three groups seemed to perceive the stations not only as building on prior knowledge, but also as a means for adding to a student’s knowledge base to build on in the future. Science learning is often influenced by previous experiences. The more opportunities students have to grow and expand their experiences about different concepts, the more capable they will be at learning more complex science concepts (Michaels et al., 2008).
  • 139. 128 Use of technology. In the original design of the SISL program, a technology station was considered essential for each set of stations. As technology continues to grow and expand, it is important that the students have as many opportunities to explore information through as many different formats as possible. The use of technology also is a way to engage many students who spend numerous hours on their computers at home. The district has a 5-year rotating plan for implementing new technology at the many schools. Each elementary school library has, at a minimum, nine desktop computers for student use. In addition, many schools received other types of technology from specific grants. So, the technology piece varied among the stations and among the schools. At schools with access to them, the technology piece includes the use of iPods for watching videos about the topic as well as the use of computers to visit specific web sites that include videos, games, simulations, and lessons about the various topics in the stations. Numerous studies have shown that the use of games and simulations in science can have a positive impact when used appropriately (de Jong & van Joolingen, 1998; Degennaro, 2009; Evagorou et al., 2009; Slavin et al., 2012; Srinivasan & Crooks, 2005). The perceptions of the participants included little to no reference about the technology piece of the SISL stations. If mentioned at all, it was only to comment that it added to the students’ knowledge about the topic. It would be interesting to follow up and determine if the lack of mention of the technology is because it was not deemed that important by many of the participants or if, in this day and age, technology is becoming more of a given for certain learning experiences. Science and literacy connections. Since the SISL program was specifically designed for implementation in the library, it seems only rational that there would be a
  • 140. 129 literacy component. Interestingly enough, during the literature review, there were numerous references to a science–literacy connection. Much has come out in recent years in the literature describing the various ways in which literacy and science learning have several common processes including predicting, summarizing, and drawing conclusions (Yopp & Yopp, 2006; Yore, 2004; Zales & Unger, 2008). Of the participants, only one AST and one teacher specifically mentioned the book piece of the stations. However, both of these individuals had strong perceptions about how the use of the books activated the students’ prior knowledge about the topic, as well as how it helped them to make connections to the hands-on labs. Librarians mentioned that circulation of books about the topics covered in the stations had increased, seeming to indicate that the SISL program inclusion of the read-aloud caused students to have an increased interest in reading books on the subject. Perceptions About Supports of Different Learning Styles As a member of the pilot program, the researcher is well aware that one of the most compelling points of the SISL program is the fact that students would be able to conduct experiments and participate in more hands-on activities. The SISL program was also meant to be something that might engage a variety of learners. By using the technology, the read-aloud, games, hands-on experiments, opportunities to explore different materials, and additional practice with difficult concepts, SISL was intended to meet the needs of the students with a wide assortment of learning styles found in a typical elementary classroom. Even though the literature review did not directly address students with different learning styles, much of the literature on science learning mentioned hands-on activities as an important way to engage many students (Applefield
  • 141. 130 et al., 2000; Berube, 2008; Michaels et al., 2008). The original design of the SISL took in to account the current trends in education addressing differentiation as a way to impact a wide variety of students. The stations cover many of the multiple intelligences discussed by Gardner (2011a; 2011b). In addition, stations were designed, when possible, to engage those styles that might not normally be met in a typical science classroom. These ideas included using visual, auditory, and kinesthetic approaches when possible as well as the opportunities for creative problem-solving and artwork. Nine of the 12 participants specifically mentioned either the hands-on component or the different activities as addressing different learning styles. This perception was especially interesting because no question specifically addressed learning styles. The majority of participants mentioned this under the question about how the stations addressed how students learned best. Perceptions About Support for At-Risk, Special Education, and English Language Learners Today’s public schools are filled with students with a wide range of learning abilities, as well as a variety of students with behavioral and emotional issues. These students present a special set of challenges that must be addressed on a daily basis. Programs such as SISL can often be a way to engage a student who in other circumstances might not be as involved in the learning process. In the district in which this study occurred, 37.8% of the students in the whole district are labeled at-risk. At the four schools of the study, the percentage of at-risk ranged from a low of 43.5% and a high of 60.8%, with the remaining two schools at 44.9% and 47.4%. Obviously, programs that have a positive effect on at-risk students are something to be valued. While participants were not asked questions that specifically addressed the needs of at-
  • 142. 131 risk students, those who made positive comments about the motivation and engagement of the students are presumed to have included these at-risk students. Research with regard to this area of working with at-risk students in the library is compelling in that the library was often seen as a place where these types of students could find comfort and success. This fact would seem to point to the idea that programs such as SISL could further the positive experiences of these students, as well as potentially enhance their academic achievement in the particular subject of science. Jones and Zambone (2008) condensed the research on how librarians can help at-risk students, and provided a number of resources and suggestions for collaborating with teachers to help academic achievement of students. Gavigan and Kurtts (2010) provided compelling evidence that also supported the idea that the librarian in collaboration with others on campus can help at-risk students. The district in which the study was conducted has been transitioning over the last several years to a collaborative model for meeting the needs of special education students. In this model, a class or classes at each grade level are designated as the collaborative classroom. For this class there are then two teachers, a general education teacher and special education teacher. The students in the class are a mix of students identified as special education and general education. Since the program had been implemented in the majority of the schools in the district by the time of the study, it was logical that if all fifth grade classes were participating in the stations, then at least one of the classes would have been a collaborative class. However, there were no questions that specifically addressed the needs of these students on the questionnaire. Only two of the participants, one librarian and one AST, specifically mentioned special education students as
  • 143. 132 benefitting from the program. Based on the design of the program and comments from several of the teachers about meeting the needs of various students, it would be beneficial to research further the potential of the SISL program for helping special education students succeed with many science topics. In addition, as Smith Canter, Voytecki, Zambone, and Jones (2011) pointed out, previous research on the benefits of a strong library program did not directly refer to special education students, but the positive results of studies as presented by Lance and Hofschire (2011) indicated that a library staffed with a librarian can influence reading scores and provides enough evidence that working with special education students could have similar positive results. Programs such as SISL could be one way to begin building those relationships with special education students and teachers. English language learners (ELL) were another group that, while not specifically targeted, could benefit from the SISL program. While the current researcher did not specifically collect data that addressed English language learners, two of the schools in the study were classified as bilingual. If all fifth grade classes participated in the stations, then at least one of the classes presumably was bilingual; however, since the teachers did not identify if they were bilingual, there is no way to know for sure if any of the participants had bilingual students. Interestingly, one of the ASTs that was not from one of the bilingual campuses mentioned how the program, in his opinion, exemplified best practices for both ELL and special education students and that the program addressed several of the state standards for English language learners. In the National Science Teachers Association’s (2009) position statement on science for English language learners, several declarations that deal with combining science and literacy, providing
  • 144. 133 different classroom formats, activating prior knowledge, and a variety of ways to represent information support the idea of the SISL program as an effective method for expanding the science learning of English language learners. Conclusions This case study is one small example of a potential program for improving collaboration between teachers, academic support teachers, and librarians, as well as for enhancing the science curriculum of fifth grade students. At the time of the study, there was little in the research base to indicate what, if any, positive benefits might come from such a program. While the number of participants was small at 12 and, in particular, the participation of the teachers was not as great as one would have hoped, there are enough indications that point to the fact that the Science Investigation Stations in the Library (SISL) should be furthered investigated for its potential effects on academic achievement. The research study also brought to light the seeming disconnect between what research indicates about the teacher–librarian collaborations and what is actually occurring in the schools. In order to improve the collaboration component, conclusions from Hockersmith’s (2010) Delaware study should be considered for this study. Hockersmith concluded that for a library to have a positive impact on student achievement there needed to be administrative support, the development of a state literacy curriculum, and strong focused professional development. In the district where this current study was conducted, there is a strong central office that develops much of the curriculum that teachers are teaching. Adding science stations to the curriculum would be a way to encourage teachers to participate more with the librarians. However, as with many activities in public school, it would also require
  • 145. 134 support from the individual campus principals. As for the development of a state literacy curriculum, Texas has already developed a set of state standards, TEKS, for English Language Arts. The latest revised standards went into effect in the 2011–2012 school year. Within these standards are important pieces about research and information- seeking abilities. However, there is no mention made of standards that specifically address collaborating with the librarian and, until things change, there will mostly likely not be such a standard. In Texas, as in many states, there is currently no requirement that there be an elementary librarian on each campus. As long as the library position is not a required staff position, there cannot be standards written that would mandate such practices. The third recommendation, professional development, is something that the librarians actually mentioned and holds the most promise for bringing about actual change. This idea is expanded on further in the implications for practice and recommendations section later in this chapter. Implications for Practice The results of this case study of four elementary campuses point to three major implications for current practice. These implications are to gather further data on the actual impact of SISL on academic achievement, find ways to expand the collaboration of teachers, and finally, involve more schools. First, it would seem that based on the perceptions of the participants, this is a program that should undergo further expansion and evaluation. Based on the comments regarding the engagement of the students alone would indicate that SISL is a worthwhile program. However, as with all programs in school, it would be beneficial to investigate further the actual benefits of the program on the fifth graders’ science achievement through the gathering of quantitative data. This
  • 146. 135 data could be gathered through the individual schools reviewing specific pertinent questions from the curriculum district benchmarks given throughout the school year. In addition, teachers could be asked to submit assessment grades over the particular topics covered in the SISL. These assessments could then be compared to other schools or years where SISL was not used to find any indications of improvement. The second piece of data to review would be the STAAR™ scores from the previous year to insure that the stations being implemented are still the ones of greatest need and to look at current STAAR™ scores to gather data that ensure that those questions that correspond to the stations are showing improvement. Implied in this data gathering would be the reality that the SISL stations should not become a stagnant set of stations, but rather a program that expands and changes with the needs of the particular school population. One of the glaring issues raised by the results of this study was that the teachers were not involved at all or in a limited capacity in the preparation of the stations. All the participants, including the teachers, seemed to view the teacher role as one of facilitator during the actual conduction of the stations. The librarians, especially at those schools without ASTs, voiced during the interview that more teacher collaboration was desired. However, even they seemed to believe that the chance of improving the collaboration in their current situation was slim without a change in expectations. In order to bring teachers into the process more effectively, it is recommended that future staff development be done with teachers, librarians, and academic support teachers as appropriate. The best professional development would be if teams from the schools attended together.
  • 147. 136 Finally, in order to gather more data, as well as expand the potential benefits of the program, SISL needs to be conducted in more schools within the district. Toward this end, data that is gathered from currently participating schools should be shared with administrators at those schools reluctant to implement the programs. By showing the potential benefits of the program, the principals could encourage more participation. The librarians believed that the only way to get more schools involved would be to add it to the actual curriculum. While this suggestion is one possible course of action, it is the belief of the researcher that to start on a smaller scale and get more schools involved through professional development opportunities would, in the long run, add to the fidelity and endurance of the SISL program. It is important to keep in mind that the program was first introduced with six librarians in the 2010–2011 school year. According to Hall and Hord (2011), the actual adoption of any innovation could take months to years; the idea, however, is for the program to become self-sustaining. In the case of the SISL program, it would appear that current goal of the district should be to gain more early adopters before making any drastic mandates. Implications for Research The research study served to gather the perceptions of a small group of people about a new program. While these perceptions for the most part are positive, it is only a beginning. However, since at the time, there was little to no research on the SISL program or even similar programs, the researcher believes that this study adds a small piece to the important field of elementary science education. Based on the continued outcry for students to be better educated in science, it would seem that this study could have the potential to begin an important strand of needed research on actual science
  • 148. 137 programs being implemented in schools. Research on science learning (Bencze & Alsop, 2008; Conderman & Woods, 2008; Feldman, 2004; Michaels et al., 2008; Pratt & Pratt, 2004) all indicated a need for more hands-on, inquiry-like science. The SISL program is an innovation that meets the requirements and, as perceived by the study participants, is engaging and worthwhile for fifth graders. Therefore, future research could and should grow in many directions. The following paragraphs serve to introduce some of these potential ideas. First and foremost, the SISL program itself should be studied further. The value and validity of the program would be served through a variety of potential studies. For example, as recommended in the previous section, a quantitative review of actual grades and test scores would add important value to the potential of the program. In addition, the program has been presented at workshops in which other school districts were provided the program, so future studies, both of a qualitative and quantitative nature could be used to gather information about the program implementation and success in other districts. Finally, since this study only served to examine staff perceptions, an interesting research study could be conducted to review the perceptions of the actual students using the program. Along the same lines, variations of the program could be implemented and studied for the potential of the format to be used with other grades and in other subjects. The librarians indicated in the interview that some teachers in other grades had expressed interest in conducting the stations with their students, as well as indicating that they would like to try it with social studies topics. Two of the librarians indicated that they
  • 149. 138 tended to collaborate more with the lower grades and so felt that such endeavors would be worthwhile. Further research should be done on the literature component as an enhancement to science learning. There is much research currently coming out about the connections between literacy and science learning (Fries-Gaither, 2012; Saul, 2004). It would be of value to conduct a study of the stations in which no read-aloud is used as compared to the current stations with the read-aloud. Then students could be questioned and the information learned after the stations could be compared to gain a better understanding of what role, if any, the read-aloud plays in activating prior knowledge. Finally, technology continues to grow and expand in schools. More research should be conducted on the use of technology as implemented in programs such as SISL. There also needs to be more research on the use of technology in science in general. The technology is not going away, so it is to the benefit of all if research is conducted that indicates what the best programs and practices are for using the technology. Recommendations In the final analysis, this study is a small piece of a bigger picture. The big picture is that American students, in order to become productive adults in the future, need to be able to read, interpret, and understand science concepts. Therefore, it is essential that public schools search out and implement new and effective ways to teach these concepts. In addition, these methods must reach all students, including those who are at- risk, special education, and English language learners. Science is not for an elite few. According to Next Generation Science Standards (2013), There is no doubt that science—and, therefore, science education—is central to the lives of all Americans. Never before has our world been so complex and
  • 150. 139 science knowledge so critical to making sense of it all. When comprehending current events, choosing and using technology, or making informed decisions about one’s healthcare, science understanding is key. Science is also at the heart of the United States’ ability to continue to innovate, lead, and create the jobs of the future. All students—whether they become technicians in a hospital, workers in a high tech manufacturing facility, or Ph.D. researchers—must have a solid K– 12 science education. (para. 1) Programs similar to the Science Investigation Stations in the Library (SISL) have the potential to change the science learning of all students in elementary schools. It is essential that elementary students be allowed to foster that natural curiosity that they have and to expand and build on it throughout their school years. Students can and will learn science when provided the opportunity to explore, experiment, and collaborate. By implementing programs like SISL in schools, students are being provided these opportunities. This study served to present one potential program. It is up to teachers and schools everywhere to decide on its final value and to continue to search for new and inventive ways to encourage all students to become science-literate. The future of the United States is depending on it.
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  • 162. 151 APPENDICES
  • 163. 152 APPENDIX A District Approval Letter
  • 164. 153 APPENDIX A District Approval Letter January 8, 2013 Lisa Hettler Librarian, XXXX Elementary Dr. Calvin Berkey Argosy University Online Institutional Review Board Chair Dear Ms Hettler: This is to confirm that you have been granted permission to conduct your study in the XXXXXXXXX Independent School District. You may conduct the activities necessary to complete your study titled, “Science Investigation Stations in the Library: Multiple Collaborations for Students Success”. We have received and reviewed your documentation and find your interests consistent with those of the district. Your ideas were clearly articulated and well thought out. We are satisfied with the relevance of the topic and the profession and technical rigor displayed. We are interested in maintaining a dialogue with you as the study is finalized and results become available. As with any district-sanctioned, unsolicited, external research study, participation is ultimately at the discretion of the employees involved. Your contact for questions, issues or concerns about access to and logistics within each participating campus is the campus principal. Any district policy questions, issues or concerns should come to me. We wish you well with the study, Program Evaluator
  • 165. 154 APPENDIX B Sample of Principal Permission Letter
  • 166. 155 APPENDIX B Sample of Principal Permission Letter January 28, 2013 Mrs./Mr. Principal’s Name Principal, Name of School Address RE: Permission to Conduct Research Study Dear Principal’s Name: I am writing to request permission to conduct a research study at your school. I am currently enrolled in the Doctorate of Teaching and Learning at Argosy University Online and am in the process of writing my dissertation. The study is entitled Science Investigation Stations in The Elementary Library: Multiple Collaborations for Student Success. I have received District permission for conducting the study (See attached letter) I hope that the school administration will allow me to recruit the librarian, fifth grade teachers, and academic support teacher of science from your school to complete an online questionnaire and post responses to some blog questions. In addition, the librarian will be asked to participate in one focus group interview. Staff members that agree to participate will be provided a consent statement at the beginning of the online questionnaire. If approval is granted, participants will complete the survey at a time of their choosing during a provided two week window. The survey process should take no longer than 45 minutes. The librarian focus group interview will occur one afternoon to be determined at the researcher’s school. No costs will be incurred by either your school/center or the individual participants. Your approval to conduct this study will be greatly appreciated. I would be happy to answer any questions or concerns that you may have by either phone or email. My work phone number is 397-1684. My email address is If you agree, kindly sign below and return the signed form to Lisa Hettler. Sincerely, Lisa Hettler, Doctoral Student Enclosures cc: Dr. Adragna, Dissertation Chair, AUO Approved by: __________________________ ____________________________ _________ Print your name and title here Signature Date
  • 167. 156 APPENDIX C First Screen of Online Questionnaire with Consent
  • 168. 157 APPENDIX C First Screen of Online Questionnaire with Consent This study is being done by Lisa Hettler who is a doctoral student in the Education College at Argosy University-Online, working on a dissertation. This study is a requirement to fulfill the researcher’s degree and will not be used for decision-making by any organization. The title of this study is Science Investigation Stations in the Library: Multiple Collaborations for Student Success. The purpose of this study is to analyze the perceptions of librarians, academic support teachers of science and teachers about the collaborative process of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library program, as well as to analyze their perceptions of the impact on the fifth graders’ science education by the program as implemented in 4 elementary libraries. I was asked to be in this study because I am a librarian, 5th grade teacher or academic support teacher at one of the four participating schools A total of 26 people have been asked to participate in this study. If I agree to be in this study, I will be asked to complete an online questionnaire and respond to a few blog questions over a two-week period This study will take 2-3 hours of time over several days. The risks associated with this study are minimal. The benefits of participation are to better understand the potential of the program, as well as information about best practices for the program and other similar programs The information I provide will be treated confidentially, which means that nobody except the researcher and fellow participants will be able to tell who I am. The records of this study will be kept private. No words linking me to the study will be included in any sort of report that might be published. The records will be stored securely and only Lisa Hettler will have access to the records. I have the right to get a summary of the results of this study if I would like to have them. I can get the summary by Summer 2013. I understand that my participation is strictly voluntary. If I do not participate, it will not harm my relationship with Lisa Hettler and/or NISD. If I decide to participate, I can refuse to answer any of the questions that may make me uncomfortable. I can quit at any time without my relations with the university, job, benefits, etc., being affected. I can contact Lisa Hettler—who is the principal investigator at, with any questions about this study. I understand that this study has been reviewed and Certified by the Institutional Review Board, Argosy University – Online. For problems or questions regarding participants' rights, I can contact the Institutional Review Board Chair, Dr. Calvin Berkey at I have read and understand the explanation provided to me. I have had all my questions answered to my satisfaction, and I voluntarily agree to participate in this study. By continuing on and completing the questionnaire, I am giving my voluntary consent to participate in this research. I understand my rights and obligations as a participant.
  • 169. 158 APPENDIX D Letter of Consent-Focus Group
  • 170. 159 APPENDIX D Letter of Consent-Focus Group CONSENT FORM SCIENCE INVESTIGATION STATIONS IN THE LIBRARY: MULTIPLE COLLABORATIONS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS You are cordially invited to participate in a focus group for the research study. The purpose of this research study is to evaluate the impact of the Science Investigation Stations in the Library recently implemented at your school. You are being asked to participate because you are the librarian at one of the four participating schools. If you participate in the research, you will be asked to attend one focus group session in which the four librarians and the researcher will discuss questions and comments from the previously completed questionnaires. In addition, you may add further comments and questions to the blog that will be available for 2 weeks sometime after the completion of the focus group interview. Your participation will take approximately 30-45 minutes. Your participation in this research is strictly voluntary. You may refuse to participate at all, or choose to stop your participation at any point in the research, without fear of penalty or negative consequences of any kind. The information/data you provide for this research will be treated confidentially, and all raw data will be kept in a secured file by the researcher. Results of the research will be reported with pseudonyms and no identifiable information will be presented. You can contact Lisa Hettler—who is the principal investigator at, with any questions about this study. You may also contact the dissertation chair, Dr. Susan Adragna at with any questions you may have. You also have the right to review the results of the research if you wish to do so. A copy of the results may be obtained by contacting the researcher at the address below: Lisa Hettler , 1919 Wormack Way, San Antonio, TX 78251 There will be no direct or immediate personal benefits from your participation in this research. I understand that this research study has been reviewed and Certified by the Institutional Review Board, Argosy University-Online. For research-related problems or questions regarding participants’ rights, I can contact Argosy’s Institutional Board: Dr. Berkey at I have read and understand the information explaining the purpose of this research and my rights and responsibilities as a participant. My signature below designates my
  • 171. 160 consent to participate in this research study, according to the terms and conditions outlined above. You may “opt-in” by completing and returning this consent form by ponying it to Lisa Hettler. Additionally, this consent will be kept in a locked file cabinet to ensure anonymity, and no names will be used in the research. ____________________________ _________________________ Signature Date ______________________________ Print  Name  
  • 172. 161 APPENDIX E Questionnaires for Participants-Teachers
  • 173. 162 APPENDIX E Questionnaires for Participants-Teachers Science Investigation Stations in the Library Questionnaire for Teachers Teacher Information Gender: Years of Teaching Experience: Teaching Areas of Certification: Highest Education Level: Years in Current Position: How many Science Investigation Stations in the Library have you collaborated on this year? Please provide the subject(s) covered: Please answer the following questions as thoroughly and honestly as possible. For all questions the program Science Investigation Stations in the Library is identified by the acronym SISL. 1. As a teacher, what was your part in the planning and conducting of the SISL program with your students? 2. What do you see as the overall objective of the SISL? 3. In what ways, if any, do you believe SISL supports the way that students learn best? 4. Can you name any specific stations that allow the students to arrive at a conclusion by assembling various pieces of evidence? 5. During the stations, can you name a specific situation where you witnessed the students collaborating in a positive manner? 6. What, if anything, about the SISL program do you think encourages students to build on their existing knowledge base? 7. In SISL, can you describe some examples of the students applying prior knowledge to the station activities? 8. During the stations, what opportunities did you observe of students interacting in a positive manner? 9. In your opinion, did you consider the stations to provide scaffolding for the students? If yes, please check all that apply: _____Facilitating the understanding of the subject content _____Organizing the way for new learning, _____ Enabling the learners to focus on problems, _____ Enabling the learners to connect between their learning activities and goals, _____ Enabling the learners to better understand how to achieve their goals ____Other: _____________________________________________________ 10. What, if any, higher level thinking skills did you observe students using during the stations? 11. Do you think that conducting the stations took more time, less time, or the same amount of time as it would have for you to cover the same information in a more traditional method?
  • 174. 163 12. What indications did you see from the students that they were motivated to work on the stations? 13. What do you think your students gained from completing the SISL stations? 14. Since the implementation of the SISL program what, if any, changes have you seen in science grades? 15. Please feel free to add any other comments about the SISL program.
  • 175. 164 APPENDIX F Questionnaires for Participants-Librarians
  • 176. 165 APPENDIX F Questionnaires for Participants-Librarians Science Investigation Stations in the Library Questionnaire for Librarians Librarian Information Gender: Years of Teaching Experience: Grades Taught: Highest Education Level: Years of Librarian Experience: Years in Current Position: How many Science Investigation Stations in the Library have you collaborated on this year? Please provide the subject(s) covered: Please answer the following questions as thoroughly and honestly as possible. For all questions the program Science Investigation Stations in the Library is identified by the acronym SISL. 1. As a librarian, what was your part in the planning and conducting of the SISL program with the students? 2. What do you see as the overall objective of the SISL? 3. In what ways, if any, do you believe SISL supports the way that students learn best? 4. Can you name any specific stations that allow the students to arrive at a conclusion by assembling various pieces of evidence? 5. During the stations, can you name a specific situation where you witnessed the students collaborating in a positive manner? 6. What, if anything, about the SISL program do you think encourages students to build on their existing knowledge base? 7. In SISL, can you describe some examples of the students applying prior knowledge to the station activities? 8. During the stations, what opportunities did you observe of students interacting in a positive manner? 9. In your opinion, did you consider the stations to provide scaffolding for the students? If yes, please check all that apply: _____Facilitating the understanding of the subject content _____Organizing the way for new learning, _____ Enabling the learners to focus on problems, _____ Enabling the learners to connect between their learning activities and goals, _____ Enabling the learners to better understand how to achieve their goals ____Other: _____________________________________________________ 10. What, if any, higher level thinking skills did you observe students using during the stations?
  • 177. 166 11. Do you think that conducting the stations took more time, less time, or the same amount of time as it would have for you to cover the same information in a more traditional method? 12. What indications did you see from the students that they were motivated to work on the stations? 13. What do you think the students gained from completing the SISL stations? 14. Since the implementation of the SISL program what, if any, changes have you seen in the students’ interest in science topics? 15. Please feel free to add any other comments about the SISL program.
  • 178. 167 APPENDIX G Questionnaires for Participants-ASTs
  • 179. 168 APPENDIX G Questionnaires for Participants-ASTs Science Investigation Stations in the Library Questionnaire for ASTs Academic Support Teacher Information Gender: Years of Teaching Experience: Teaching Areas of Certification: Highest Education Level: Years in Current Position: How many Science Investigation Stations in the Library have you collaborated on this year? Please provide the subject(s) covered: Please answer the following questions as thoroughly and honestly as possible. For all questions the program Science Investigation Stations in the Library is identified by the acronym SISL. 1. As an AST, what was your part in the planning and conducting of the SISL program with the students? 2. What do you see as the overall objective of the SISL? 3. In what ways, if any, do you believe SISL supports the way that students learn best? 4. Can you name any specific stations that allow the students to arrive at a conclusion by assembling various pieces of evidence? 5. During the stations, can you name a specific situation where you witnessed the students collaborating in a positive manner? 6. What, if anything, about the SISL program do you think encourages students to build on their existing knowledge base? 7. In SISL, can you describe some examples of the students applying prior knowledge to the station activities? 8. During the stations, what opportunities did you observe of students interacting in a positive manner? 9. In your opinion, did you consider the stations to provide scaffolding for the students? If yes, please check all that apply: _____Facilitating the understanding of the subject content _____Organizing the way for new learning, _____ Enabling the learners to focus on problems, _____ Enabling the learners to connect between their learning activities and goals, _____ Enabling the learners to better understand how to achieve their goals ____Other: _____________________________________________________ 10. What, if any, higher level thinking skills did you observe students using during the stations? 11. Do you think that conducting the stations took more time, less time, or the same amount of time as it would have for you to cover the same information in a more traditional method?
  • 180. 169 12. What indications did you see from the students that they were motivated to work on the stations? 13. What do you think the students gained from completing the SISL stations? 14. Since the implementation of the SISL program what, if any, changes have you seen in the students’ interest in science topics? 15. Please feel free to add any other comments about the SISL program.
  • 181. 170 APPENDIX H WebQuest Questionnaire for Teachers
  • 182. 171 APPENDIX H WebQuest Questionnaire for Teachers 1 1 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
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  • 184. 173 APPENDIX I Permission to Use WebQuest Questionnaire
  • 185. 174 APPENDIX I Permission to Use WebQuest Questionnaire -----Original Message----- From: Lisa Hettler [] Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 2:18 PM To: Robert Zheng Subject: Request about WQFT Hello my name is Lisa Hettler and I am currently a doctoral student at Argosy University working on my dissertation for my Ed.D. in Teaching and Learning. I am interested in gather perceptions from librarians, teachers, and academic support teachers about their implementation of a district created science program that has the three groups working together to set up stations in the library around certain science topics with 5th grade students. I came across your name and mention of the WebQuest Questionnaire for Teachers (WQFT) in another student's, Deborah Oliver's dissertation. I then reviewed the questionnaire in your paper. I am writing to ask permission to modify the questionnaire to fit my current science program. For the most part it would be replacing the word WebQuests with the Science Investigation Stations In the Library. I might have to remove a few questions that do not apply as well. If you could get in touch with me through this email and let me know if you need further information and if it is possible to use the questionnaire I would be very appreciative. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration! >>> Robert Zheng <> 4/24/2012 5:47 PM >>> Hi Lisa, Please feel free to use the instrument. If you are going to modify it, please don't cite the reliability result in my paper as it was only applied to the original instrument. Good luck, Robert Robert Zheng Associate Professor Instructional Design and Educational Technology Program Dept of Educational Psychology, University of Utah Office: MBH 107 Email:
  • 186. 175 -----Original Message----- From: Lisa Hettler [] Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:34 AM To: Debby Oliver Subject: Re: Fwd: Looking for email for one of your former students Hi Debby: Thank you! Yes I am working on my proposal. I was very interested in the instrument you used for your dissertation. I actually contacted Dr. Zheng and he gave me permission to use and modify his original instrument. I believe you added some questions though and could I have permission from you to use those for my questionnaire. At this point I am thinking it is only changing the wording of WebQuest to indicate the program I am using Science investigation Stations in the Library. >>> Debby Oliver <> 4/26/2012 2:54 PM >>> Absolutely- you have my permission to use and revise away! :) Please don't hesitate to reach out- if you want to bounce ideas or ask questions. I am happy to support you! Enjoy your day, Debby
  • 187. 176 APPENDIX J Compiled Questionnaire Responses
  • 188. 177 APPENDIX J Compiled Questionnaire Responses
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  • 208. 197 APPENDIX K Focus Group Interview Transcript
  • 209. 198 APPENDIX K Focus Group Interview Transcript Moderator: Okay this is Lisa Hettler, and I'm recording my focus group interview with four librarians that have volunteered to participate in my study. So the first question was, I want you to think about the stations in what your ideal, how you thought it should be whether this is what happened in your school or not, but and I'm really interested in the collaborative practice. So in your own thoughts what do you think is the best collaborative practice for the science investigation stations, I mean how do you see that that should work whether it worked like that or not, what's your like ideal? SC-L3: I have to sit down with my fifth grade team and go over our data for our STAAR testing and our CDBs and see what our lowest performing objectives are, and then if you know and changing them up from year-to-year you know coming up with a completely different topic, if necessary, but making sure that we're really helping by hitting those you know most needed areas, and making sure that they all participate in that discussion with me, and that I'm not just doing it for them so. SD-L4: I agree with SC-L3 and I would sit down with the fifth grade team, and in my case it's only been one teacher who's done the collaboration, but sit with her because she's the main science guru on our campus. And do like SC-L3 said you know the STAAR objectives and plan out the stations. Our kids are pretty self-sufficient because we do what do you call it, a self-explanatory paper, so it’s on the table when they come in, but some of them the kids still get stuck, and do a little more you know can we change that up because I know you all did the – some stations were changed from year-to-year and that seems to be a big improvement, and how can we improve it to relate to the STAAR, the STAAR testing. Moderator: Okay. SA-L1: Ditto to what SC-L3 and SD-L4 said, and also because I know we did it right before CDB, so they kind of used it not as a review, but like a review, so to see take that CDB data, and see did it help, did it reinforce what they have learned, and check it out with the data from the CMS on CMS. SB-L2: One of the things that I – you know I feel the same way that you all do too, but making sure that I know that when we first plan these lessons, the teachers really didn't collaborate with us. It was just our lessons, and we presented it to them, so I think making sure that the teachers know what the stations are, so that they can move around and help there not just you know going oh, well I don’t know kind of a thing which they will know because they teach science. But I think really sitting down and collaborating like you all agreed to, and to the lessons that they exactly know what station, each station entails. Moderator: Okay. So if I – I'm going to kind of summarize. So basically you're all saying that there should be collaboration between you and the fifth grade teachers, and I'm assuming those who have an academic support teacher between the academic support teacher of science. SB-L2: Yes.
  • 210. 199 Moderator: That would be ideal though. So now what did, what exactly did the collaborative process on your campus look like? Because I kind of got the feeling from the questionnaires of the teachers responses they definitely didn't see it that way. Do you feel like there was that collaborative process or was it more of you? SD-L4: Well, I presented it to my teachers – Moderator: Okay. SD-L4: Or to the teacher. And she said I love it you know this is a great idea. She went back and looked up TEKS and whatever was in their curriculum, and came back to me and said, I think this is better, what do you think? And I'm like yeah let's go with it you know because she knew what they were doing in class better than I did. Moderator: Right. And so why, so how many teachers, fifth grade teachers are on your campus? SD-L4: I have four at School D. Moderator: So did the other three give you a reason? SD-L4: The one teacher is more of the science person, and they kind of split up. Their classes, one would do social studies, one would teach reading, one would teach the social studies and one would teach the science, and especially after Christmas it was driven that they would split up, and do it by that. Moderator: So did all the fifth graders participate in the stations then? SD-L4: No. Moderator: Okay so – SD-L4: Usually last year they did. They try to rotate everybody through. I left it open if you would like to come in and do this. Please come in, but this one particular teacher is the one that loved it and ran with it, and she said she likes having a bigger space to work in, and the kids can move around easier. And last year I had teachers that really didn’t want to be bothered same thing this year, and you've got to find the right teacher to do it, and we had a change in teachers at the beginning of the year. One teacher left, another one came in, and he was not familiar with it, so I left it up to this one teacher that takes – she takes charge of the science so. Moderator: Okay and so what about (pointing to the others)? SA-L1: And I'm SA-L1, SA Elementary. I can – Moderator: You can just say SA-L1. I’ll know. SA-L1: I can see why the two teachers that did the survey would have said that they didn’t have a lot of collaboration because I did meet with the four fifth grade teachers, and it was presented to them, and it was this is what the idea is, and they were for it. Everybody said yes let's do it, but then my AST and I are the ones who took charge in getting all the materials, setting up the stations, organizing everything, and they showed up for the stations. They showed up that day, and they were there, they facilitated with us myself and our AST they helped out. They were there for the explanation as we explained to the kids this is what each station is, but as far as them having hands-on in setting it up. Moderator: Who decided what stations you would do? SA-L1: The AST and myself. And she is the AST, and she's always in there working with them, and they go to her lab. She knew exactly what to do, what not to do, and there
  • 211. 200 were some stations that she said oh we already did this in the lab or this. So and we tweaked some of the stations to, to meet the needs of our kids. Moderator: And so the teachers really didn’t have a say, that's basically how it ran on my campus as well. SB-L2: And that's how it ran on my campus too. Moderator: Okay. So you and the AST basically did everything for the teachers on the campus. SB-L2 Same thing as SA-L1’s campus, same exact thing. Moderator: Okay. SC-L3: SC-L3 from L3, I can't help it I have to tell (group laughter about her saying her name and school again). My – one of my fifth grade teachers is our science facilitator and I went to her early, early in the year, and said okay, I want to do science centers you know what, what is your input? Do you want me to change anything? No, no it's great. Whatever you want to do sounds great and I'm like well, okay well, then I send her an email and I said okay, these are my centers and these were the objectives. I said how do you feel, is this something that you feel like, you all are needing or should it be tweaked? Never heard back from her. So I grabbed her in the hallway and she's like oh, whatever you want to do, it just sounds great. So unfortunately, I feel, I'm disappointed they don't want more say so on it because I think it's really important for me to have their expertise and their knowledge, but a lot of times because we're – they're also not self-contained. They split up kids. One does math, one does social studies, one does science. You know it's the same thing, so only one person really is vested in the science. The other ones don't really care. They want to show up and for me to have it ready you know to go. So, I think as librarians, we have to take the time to look at the curriculum and look at the objectives and do all that, and if you know its only going to match if we do the work to make sure that we're really hitting what we need to be hitting because I just think a lot of teachers are not going to take the time to collaborate as much as they should that's just my opinion but. Moderator: Okay well, no and I – because kind of bouncing off that so what if anything, would you like to change about the collaboration of the team or do you even think it’s a team or it kind of seems like you're saying that you don’t really know that that's going to happen, so maybe the librarians needed to just continue to take the lead? SC-L3: I feel like we need to go to their grade level meeting, and bring an agenda and say okay, I've got you all here. You know what are, you know what topics do you want to do? Do you feel like the centers were relevant or is there anything we should change? I feel like if I have them all sitting down right there during a time where they're already planning I'm going to get better input, then asking them to come by or meet with me at another time. And I think that's what I need to do next year. Moderator: But then are you still saying you think you'll do all the planning, I mean they’re maybe going to give you some ideas on like topics. SC-L3: I can see one teacher. I can see them giving me the topics and the objectives, and I'll probably come up with it, and then e-mail it back and say what you guys think, any changes? But for the most part they prefer not to do the work themselves. Moderator: What about –.
  • 212. 201 SD-L4: This is L4 at SD. The teacher that I work with she gets on TAKScopes which is her science and she pulled, she went in, and pulled a lot of material from that, and brought it to me, and she says if you'll do this, and I'll do this, and we kind of run into each other in the hallway. Okay tomorrow is our day. She said I got this done, and I said okay I'll get this done, and she's very good with collaborating, but the others, the other three have never really done it. And next year if they go to departmentalization, she wants to be able to rotate every class through to do more because she's invested in it. Moderator: Okay so she's really in it, and she's actually so that sounds like more on your campus it's more really of a – you guys a give and take kind of process though. And I mean we used in the original ones, what is it Stemscopes now I think that. We actually use some – I mean we use that and we came up with the original ones. What about you L1? SA-L1: We're fortunate. We're a Title 1 school which equals many which equals a lot of support staff. So aside from myself we have two reading specialists, a math specialist you know an LST, AST science. So our teachers are, I guess we can say, blessed to be given (laughter) handed here's this, here's this, use this, do this. And so they're used to that, and I'm guilty of it too just show up to the library, have a lesson, just walk in I'll do it for you. So on that note I think that back agreeing with what L3 said for next year meeting with them, and getting their input and holding them more responsible for the stations, you know the lessons, as opposed to myself and the AST handling everything. SB-L2: I use my AST as the go-between. I would e-mail him and say, you know hey, talk to the fifth grade teachers when do they want to do, and then he would contact you know, so he was like our little go-between person because he would, he meets with them, and he knows what they're covering, so yeah I agree with L1 that you know I probably need to be more involved with the teachers and not just him. Moderator: Do you think that teachers will get more involved though or do they – because I know like on our campus, which I'm not using of course my campus in the study, but we did do the stations so I kind of have that to kind of compare to, and we are a campus with an AST and I know with her she basically like you said its kind of like with the specialist she goes to the fifth grade and says here is what we're doing in science. So I don’t really think they plan much of anything in science, so I think trying to get them to have input into this would be if no impossible- SA-L1: it would be beneficial. Moderator: It would be beneficial, but I think it would be very difficult because they are very used to here's what we're doing in science for the next three weeks, and so I think with her just and now we're doing this, this week, and because she decided what topics. She decided you know this is what we're going to do same kind of thing before the CDBs. Here's our review. Here's what we're going to do, and so I don’t know, I mean I guess my vision and you guys correct me if this isn’t what and especially those of you who did the pilot, my vision was this was going to be and also the stuff I've been reading and going is that collaboration would really be the two people or the three people you know whoever and really sitting down and ironing it out together. Other speakers give uh-hums of agreement. Moderator: I mean you know more of you know I know the TEKS, you know the TEKS oh you know that we get the data. We're working and that's what collaboration should be.
  • 213. 202 And so I really think that I thought at least that's my impression is, is that's how this was intended, and I really don't see – SB-L2: It being done that way. Moderator: Yeah. SB-L2: Yeah. Moderator: But I mean do you agree, disagree, I mean? SC-L3: I agree with you. I just feel like in our realities there's just so many teachers that are like just do it, just I'm busy, I'm overwhelmed if you could have this for me that will be great, and its just that fine line we have to walk between you know. I would definitely prefer to have a lot more collaboration, but on my campus I have a very old team in fifth grade, and they're not very enthusiastic, and so the idea of them coming on their own time to do something like that. It would be – I would have to buy them breakfast or I would have to truly provide a meal for them and give them some incentive to come, to come and do it because I don’t see them intrinsically motivated to to make that happen unfortunately, but. SD-L4: This is L4. On my campus, the first year I did the stations and I just said here it is. This is what you know, what do you think? Yeah it's fine. It's fine. And then the teachers would come in, and just stand, and let me do everything. They wouldn't even offer support and then I luckily for me I've got that one teacher that said, yes, I like this, and she and I had the best time doing it because we kind of feed off of each other when we’re in front of the kids and you know and she'll pull stuff out. You know this is from an old science book. What do you think? You think its going to feed into that, you know work into this and I'm like man, that's cool. And I'm lucky to have her. The other teachers are kind of like yeah, like L3 said whatever you know. And it should be collaboration you know I think because you got two brains are better than one, but some teachers just don’t have the time or you do it. You've got it all planned out. Go ahead. SB-L2: Well, I think it's important I think it’s important that you kind of have that as a standard I guess or a expectation because I know when we presented it to the teachers it was presented where you will be actively involved in this, and you will you know you're not – and this isn't free time for you, you don't get to just walk out, and so on my campus they're involved. They're you know brainstorming with the kids and they're going through each station with the kids you know so they are involved. Moderator: So where do you think that comes from? Is that a administrative expectation, is that the AST and your expectation I mean or is that your teachers kind of step up to that position or I mean? SB-L2: Well, it was presented to us when we went to the pilot, it was presented to us that they were to be involved, and so I just – when we talked about it, you will be involved. I mean there wasn't any question about it. SA-L1: Bouncing off what L2 said when I met with the team and explained the stations to them, and thank you to the creators of the stations. They were enthusiastic. It wasn't a hard sell, you know they wanted to do it, but again I said you know it goes back to the AST and I getting everything ready, but that day when we actually did the stations, the teachers, I didn’t have to ask them to help; they on their own helped. They, on their own guided kids or questioned kids, and what do you think of this, and nobody laughed.
  • 214. 203 Nobody you know everybody was involved that day. It's just the collaborating prior and then after isn't there, but they were – Moderator: So they were helping to facilitate the actual stations. They're just not really collaborative in preparing the stations, correct. SA-L1: Uh-hum. Moderator: Okay anyone else want to add to that, more about collaboration pretty much. SD-L4: No that pretty much says it. Moderator: So okay so let me just clarify and this is more for me then but so we're basically saying it would be better if there was collaboration, but unfortunately in I think you said the reality in the real world probably not going to happen except maybe in certain cases like what, L4 has if you have a really enthusiastic teacher, so more if we can at least get them helping to facilitate during the stations that were probably doing good. For me is that am I misrepresenting anybody here is that (laughter) just kind of what we're saying because and let me just put this out there as I’ve done my research and its because I'm working on my dissertation, but I've done a lot of looking at collaboration and I know we’ve shared some things on the forums, and I know if you get on TLC they share some stuff about it. There's all those studies that have been done, and that a strong library program and the collaboration I mean is, is always seems to be improvements and do better things especially like you want standardized scores in reading, reading and math scores are strong and strong library. Of course, they focus on the reading, so kind of my, my take on this was that this is a way with the collaborative you know to kind of a collaborative process that that you know a strong collaboration should be more beneficial to the students. Now, of course them trying to sell it to the teachers is turning out to be the difficult part, and I don't know what is your – I mean I think we would probably all agree that if there was more collaboration, the stations would be better, but I mean do you all still feel I mean they're beneficial even without that collaborative piece. SC-L3: Definitely. I think so because every time I've done them in the library at SC that one of the kids has said something or I'll question them, and they don’t know the answer. And the teacher always says we've gone over this. Well, I taught you this, and so if anything just for a good review I feel like it’s definitely beneficial for just, for that reason you know. Moderator: Okay anybody? And I know it's been said and it was never intended, I mean that this is definitely not the only way they're supposed to be getting this information. It is supposed to be a review or feeding off of something they've already done and several people comment on that on the questionnaires even the teachers itself that it was building on something they had already covered, so this was never intended as a way to teach the curriculum. It's to review the curriculum. Okay before we move on to another kind of area anybody else anything else on collaboration? We kind of covered all. All right my next thing is because my next set of questions were kind of the – I'm wanting to know so there is the collaborative piece between the teacher, the AST and the librarian, so we kind of talked about that. But my other thing was what, what is this doing for the fifth graders, so how, what and since this is a new program that's why this is
  • 215. 204 a qualitative piece because there really wasn't the data. I mean the first year we did it, it was TAKS, and then it was STAAR, and then so there wasn't really anything I could go and compare numbers, or so its that's why I like, so its more of a – I'm trying to get peoples perspectives what, what were the perceptions of this program and how it’s working. And so my other thing is well is how, what are the – how do you think its contributing to the fifth grade science? I mean I know we picked fifth grade because it’s the STAAR, the year they do the STAAR test, so there's that piece of course obviously, but what else or what other things have you seen either on your campus or ways that you think this is actually contributes to that fifth grade science piece? SD-L4: This is L4. Well, just on my campus, to get the kids out of the science lab which at our school is very cramped. I mean we’ve got more room to spread out and the kids can move, and they're doing different activities with a concept, and just, you know, sometimes the teacher came up with one idea she wanted to do, so we went with it. And you could see the light bulbs coming on, oh my gosh, that's so cool. And they're watching the other stations and they can't wait to rotate to get their hands-on the activities, and the hands-on really does seem to make a mind connection. And I had a fourth grade teacher walk through, “What are you’ll doing?” And I said we're doing science. If I come back will you do – will you do one with me? So she and I did a little science thing and you know and the kids were – they get to move around. They get to do different things and they get to see the librarian in a different mindset. You know it’s not just she's checking out books to me. She knows science. You know that science can be fun if you present it in a different manner, and you're addressing different intellectual styles, and teaching styles, and you know we've got a lot of Special Ed kids in fifth grade in one class. These activities are geared to them too, so it’s – you're touching everybody by doing it. It's not just the lecture. SA-L1: I forgot the question. (Laughter) Moderator: What – how are – well, I actually what I wrote down as how do you discuss the ways you think the stations contributed to science achievements of the fifth graders, but so what do you think it’s doing for the fifth graders for their science learning? I mean how is it helping them? SA-L1: Well, it's hands-on. Moderator: Okay the hands-on. SA-L1: And its building on what they already know so they had that – what was that? I forgot what that is. You know the teacher chimes, then you go, and you say this is what this is, and now you see like you say oh yeah I remember that, and its having them move around like L4 said in the library they're kind of used to being at one place and sit down, and you know you're going to hear a story or and here they're just freely roaming, moving, exploring and learning. SC-L3: L3– SB-L2: I agree. SC-L3: I'm sorry. SB-L2: Yeah I agree with L1. Sounds good. (laughter)
  • 216. 205 SC-L3: What I love about it is that I love how – we have science, but we have the technology in with it, and we have – I've got books on every table to showing them how you know we've got books for all these topics that you guys are learning, but I like having more than one person teach them that concept so that I'm asking the different questions then maybe their teacher is. And then when I hear their teacher questioning them, I learned from that. You know and I realized what they're really wanting to focus on. So I think just having more than one adult teach this material because we don’t have an AST on my campus, and so that's whyI think it’s really beneficial, and I like and you know crazy in being really enthusiastic and one of our fifth grade teachers is just, he's so grumpy and so when his kids come in, they get so excited, and they're like we love science why don’t you teach science, you know. It's just, sometimes they need to you know have somebody that is just a little bit more enthusiastic you know about it. So I think it’s – you know I don’t know. I just think it benefits them to have more than one person teach them that concept, but. Moderator: Okay and I had kind of talked about like so like different areas this is so obviously they're learning about different topics. Do you think this helps with their vocabulary, their science vocabulary because I know that academic vocabulary on STAAR is a big deal. So do you think the stations you know help that, are beneficial for that. Okay nodding heads are not going to be recorded. (Laughter) SD-L4 Yes. SA-L1: Yes SC-L3: Yes. At each station I've got the vocabulary word, and I have the definition and I've got pictures of them so on every station I have vocabulary that ties in with that just to give them an extra visual and I use it as a jumping off point for my questioning to them. If I look down and I see you know these words all try to make my questions you know go back to the vocabulary so. Moderator: So you really, you really bring out the vocabulary? SC-L3: Yeah. SB-L2: Well and – you know as we're moving around you know we're using that vocabulary and there you know I don’t know how you all are, but how you all do it, but our kids actually have to come in with a science notebook and their science notebook has already like its filled already with all the things that they've done, and they can go back and look at what they have learned and use that vocabulary and see the vocabulary in their science notebooks as well, but we're using it and they're seeing it again. Moderator: Do you add anything in the science notebooks when necessary? SB-L2: They can. Moderator: Okay because the last time we did the stations that we actually I guess there were some that there were some list that we were doing on some of the processes I think it was the matter, what's the matter and she actually – there were some of the classes that I guess had missed that, so she was like turn to the page and they were doing right there getting them in that notebook. SD-L4: We do it. This is L4. The teacher came up. She's very creative. Came up with a flip book like for weathering and erosion and they had to draw a picture of it, and then you cut it and you flip it up, and they had to write the definition, and they did have their science notebook. So they had that – we had pictures on the table, and you know so they
  • 217. 206 could see the picture, the definition and they had to redo it. And some of them, you know were just writing one little, two little word. We’re like no, you need to write, tell us what it is. So they're learning vocabulary, and they're learning the writing process with that too. SA-L1: I didn’t highlight vocabulary the way L3 did. That's a good idea L3. And we like I guess like L2 said we do use the terms. I mean they say it. We use it. They do have their science journals. I didn’t witness if anybody didn’t understand the term or had to go back and look in their science journals. That's something I can look at next year because I don’t have that Moderator: Yeah I know as L3 was saying that thing may we all need that are doing it. We need to have another of those meetings. SC-L3: I have a jump drive of it on there with me. Moderator: And meeting of the minds for these ideas and things that we have come up since we've actually because we never met again even the pilot group? SB-L2: Right. Moderator: Since we implemented them, and I think we need to start coming up with some more and I think would be. Okay but back on track. So have you noticed anything what I know we haven't so there's no official data, but have teachers commented or do you think that CDBs scores have improved since you've been doing the stations? SB-L2: Last year SB-AST2 actually commented and said that he went back and looked, and saw that the kids did really well on the three topics that we covered last year before the actual test, so he was quite certain that it made a difference. Moderator: And I think he mentioned that and like I said I'm not doing the hard data, so I'm just looking up at is you know as the perception there that you know this is helping, so obviously at your campus with you know it. SB-L2: It seemed to be helping yes. Moderator: Okay anybody else have any? SC-L3: I don’t know. Moderator: You don’t know. SA-L1: I don’t have data per se. I don’t know if SA-AST1 had that data, but I can see that it’s helping just by their little faces beaming up or getting that oh, this is cool, and working you know just with their reactions and so forth I just can see that. But as far as numbers I don’t know and that's something that I would like to know, and I guess since we did it before CDB it would be interesting to see the test and see if like L2 said on those three topics if they did do strong on it. Moderator: Well, I see that actually at one time I considered using trying to do that with CDB scores because that would be something that would, but with every campus didn’t necessarily do the same stations. And every campus didn’t actually do the same stations at the same time, so I finally came to the conclusion that, that will really probably would necessarily I mean for your campus it would might be helpful because you will be able to look but for my dissertation piece that really wasn't going to be a legitimate kind of data to look at because there was like, there weren’t enough consistencies there and how its going to look. So but I think definitely on your campus pulling that data would probably be helpful. From the librarian's perspective have you noticed an increase in science reading, checking out of books?
  • 218. 207 SB-L2: Yes. SC-L3: Yes SD-L4: Yes, they want to know more. Moderator: Okay. SD-L4: So that you know and then if the teacher has a different topic, they come and they want you know. They want to know more, more, more. SB-L2: Or they want– or they want the book that you read. You know to introduce the concept, they want the book or they want more books on that topic so. SC-L3: I have noticed the teachers are requesting more books now Moderator: Oh Ok SC-L3: because you know that Great Wolf Island, you know both for the food chains and food webs. Well, I bought another series of what if there were no more lemmings, like it takes an animal and takes you know what I'm – Moderator: That they are kind of big and yes I have that series and my kids love those. SC-L3: And my teacher started checking those out and they fell in love with them. So it’s not necessarily just the kids are checking them out more, but the teachers are which I thought is pretty good, and it’s not even the teachers that are teaching, that are the science teachers per say they're teaching like you know the reading or the math, but they're checking them out too for their kids so that's positive there. SA-L1: I need to get the name of that series SB-L2: Yeah I don’t have that series. What's the name of it? SC-L3: You know what – let me look it up on the computers when we're done and all. It’s a great series. Moderator: How about you L1 anything? SC-L3: And it's for all the – it's up for all biomes all the different biomes. SA-L1: What was it? SC-L3: A series of books I have Moderator: I'm pretty sure. It's just got to be the same series if you – SC-L3: Yeah. Moderator: – if there were no more sea otters. SC-L3: It's like lemmings and yeah sea otters and different, different things, so it's good. It goes along great with that. SB-L2: Oh Cool. Moderator: and they are very picture heavy they're not just like just text which is like my thing. It has to have interesting illustrations in science I think so. SC-L3: Yeah. Moderator: Well, that was basically my questions for you guys I don’t know if you guys have any other comments I'm just – like I said my focus is on that collaborative process, and then science achievements. I guess one of the thing would be how, what how – what do you think the process should be now especially since we've lost the original developer for getting maybe more schools? SC-L3: Probably. Moderator: to do.
  • 219. 208 SC-L3: Probably just our November and our February mini conferences offering you know a course and maybe even if we had a brainstorming time during one of our week or monthly meetings to what are some other topics and ideas that we could, and center ideas that we could add and get more brains you know coming in you know for this process because after hearing you guys you know today I'm like, I can really improve when it comes to the collaborative and really make more of an effort to make sure that I'm planning more with them instead of just doing it myself. And I think that something that I definitely need to improve on. Moderator: I mean my thought is with you know 70 elementary or you know whatever it’s going to be 72 now elementary librarians, I mean what do you think that the value is in encouraging I mean more librarians to you know work on these maybe having more working as a group to make more stations and activities. I mean because I know the ones that we came up with we basically did as a group, so it wasn’t like you were at your library trying to come up with, but what do you see I mean do you see that, that would be beneficial to trying to get more librarians doing that? SD-L4: Uh-hum SC-L3: I do because at SC when I started doing these centers there were a few teachers that saw me more as a teacher, and not just someone who checks in and out books, so I think the more of us that can be doing more lessons like that in the library I think that's just going to help I think just the staff’s view of us Moderator: So you're just saying for as a librarian, for the librarian –. SC-L3: Exactly Moderator: – that would be helpful those for our position. SB-L2: But like but like for example I think, is how do we get the word out? Basically right and that this is good because really there aren’t a lot of us that are doing this. Moderator: Yeah right. SB-L2: And so yeah I think you know maybe presenting it more at the mini conferences, telling a friend or you know say hey you know this is really good, and wouldn't it be awesome if they could come and observe you. You know I mean I know that that's not possible, but if they saw it in action maybe with the kids, I know its one thing to actually go through it as a librarian, but to actually come in and visualize it and see kids going through it, I think maybe would make more of a difference. SD-L4: Well, and if you present it like the first year it was presented like at my school we kind of deviated a little bit like when the original developer set it up she wanted the kids to have freedom to roam, you know go where they wanted to go. My teacher and I said I think they need to hit certain you know the stations and so we kind of timed them. You know okay you get 10; you get 15 minutes over here if you don’t finish it, that’s okay. You know okay and we rotated them through so that everybody got to experience everything, and then every librarian is different and I went last summer to, I think it was habitat and the habitat one had – not habitats, food chains. SB-L2: Food chains. SD-L4: And that one had changed. So I was like oh you know. And every time somebody has a different idea, you know and there's I don’t think there's any right or wrong way to do it because everybody is you know got different mindsets, but I'm
  • 220. 209 learning something from different people and just getting together and brainstorming is you know, and it’s not a hard process to do you know. Moderator: The hardest part is coming up I think with that original those stations, and then once they're there tweaking and stuff I mean from year-to-year. My AST actually brought a different one back from her, from she went to the Science conference and came back it was like a toy shop thing. SD-L4: Ooh Moderator: We've actually been doing that one, and we actually presented that one at the Elementary Institute to some teachers which was a different kind of concept, but in the hopes that they would go back and I – you know, and I basically said I'm the librarian go back and see if you're librarians because I know at the – there was some workshops done after we did the pilot and I know that were at least 15. The original developer told me like 15 to 20 people had attended. Librarians had attended, and I'm fairly confident they're nowhere near that many, even that many doing it in the district so I guess my thing is how do we you know and then she left, and then its kind of like how do we get people you know interested in it? And you know of course with the teachers then they didn’t have access to the blogs. We couldn't give them the other ones and then this toy shop never got put on the blog so the librarians don’t have access you know so its kind of we’ve got that disconnect going on. The toy shop one the kids – it’s physical science. It’s a lot of weight, mass –. SC-L3: Oh, That's great. Moderator: – Reflection retracting –. SB-L2: We need to get that on-. Moderator: – I mean it was, and it was the whole concept was there was the toy shop before Christmas was having issues. And I mean it has the whole like basically the whole we tweaked a few task cards, and we did a few things, but basically the whole thing was laid out. It came from some school district and some other, but we tweaked it then for our stations and found a book and do that, and actually the lead science specialist and the library specialists all of them had come in and seen it. The lead science specialist actually I think ended up ordering the book that we used because that's what I was mentioning 'What's The Matter in Mr. Whisker's Room' she loved. So that's actually how we ended up presenting at the Elementary Institute because she went to my AST and said, “I love that toy shop one.” So you know there's those other avenues too, but I guess my thing is how do we because I personally think it's very worthwhile and I think my AST does. And I mean I'm kind of like you L1 the kids’ faces are I mean that right there's priceless in itself. I mean and I especially like the first time they came and then the second time they came. They were like oh what did you do? You know I mean it was just I've never seen fifth grader so excited to be in the library in my life. You know the whole idea that they get to do that. So I guess my thing is how do we build on this? SD-L4: Oh, go ahead. SA-L1: L1 at SA. When I saw L3 and L2 present it a few years ago, and I was excited about it. I went back, said my teachers enthusiastic, yes, let's do it. But I know every campus doesn’t operate that way, and I think ideally like the way to have 70 schools on board in doing that because we can – you can do your presentations, you can show them. You know you can guide them. You can tell them, but I think if its not on the curriculum
  • 221. 210 you know somewhere written on their curriculum this is what you're going to do in collaboration with the librarian, no its not going to be the 70 schools doing it for whatever reason it is, so how we get that on the curriculum I don’t know. But that would be the ideal way to have everybody on board, and then everybody would realize oh, this is awesome why haven't I done this before, and teachers would be grateful as well. And then also I would like for librarians to collaborate for us to have that time, have a – I don’t know how they would do it, but have pull out dates, early release dates, somehow where we can meet in clusters, and pick off each others brains and come up with more of these stations and lessons and share our ideas with each other. Moderator: I agree. SC-L3: I totally agree so I can just see how much better anything I do would be after hearing everybody and getting everybody's ideas, and like when you said you tweaked these centers, you know those are the best conversations to have before you do it you know. Moderator: You know and they have to be tweaked because I know some campuses have access to iPods. We don’t. Some campuses have access – you know the technology is a little bit – I mean everybody has computers I think now, but you know I know one of the things I think one of the ones that was setup, it was setup for the iPod, but we don’t have iPods so we had to tweak that one because we don’t have iPods on our campus. But you know that's fairly easy tweaks. I mean that’ s things you can, you can do. But you know I'm just – I mean I feel like this is a really good thing. I guess my other thing too would be well, how do you – what do you think about it going into other grade levels or do you think it to should fifth grade? SC-L3: Oh yea SA-L1: L1 again at SA. I just finished doing my end-of-the year report and I do do a monthly report, but it was – you know I see it on a monthly basis, when I do my monthly where we’ve seen it all together you know, the snapshot on the year, and I thought “Wow, I sure did a lot of things with third, fourth, and fifth grade,” and was very routine with kinder first and second you know, “Okay story time, let’s check out.” And one of my goals for next year is to do more integrated curriculum lessons with the younger grades. I did do my research first grade wetlands, and you know exactly you know I did the traditional thing but to actually have them come in and do what I did for the poetry stations that again was presented by librarians, science stations. You know I did an erosion lessons with fourth grade. Have the primary grades come in and do those type of activities would be awesome instead of being in that routine. Moderator: Now, you're talking like as full blown as the stations or just like maybe a station or a lesson? SA-L1: Well, something appropriate to them. I mean I think second grade would be able to handle two stations, three stations you know kinder something – I mean they all do science. We have a lab. We have an AST. They all go in there, and do science in some form or another so bringing that to the library. SD-L4: I did it with fourth grade because she saw me doing it with fifth grade, and she wanted to do the earths layers, and so we set it up. And she said I want to do this experiment. You have to peel an orange or something and she had one group of kids doing one thing. I was doing the orange, and she did pull in you know computers and she said this is so great because you've got two people and you get to spread out and its not
  • 222. 211 just me doing one orange with the whole class. She said I've got you know we're rotating and she said everybody gets to see it on a more individual basis. She loved it and I said well, we can do more. Moderator: But that was one teacher? SD-L4: That was one teacher, you know. But then other people walk through excuse me and they're like what you all doing? (Laughter) Science. We can do science in the library? I'm like yeah. If you want to do it, we're open for business. SC-L3: And I don’t know if I'm generalizing, but on my campus the ones most likely to collaborate are the younger grade teachers so I can see it actually maybe being an ideal collaborative effort when I'm working with the younger grade teachers that, I don’t know, and maybe that's just my campus. But the teachers on my upper grades tend to be more straight from the book you know I'm too busy. You know blah, blah, blah, but the younger grades just seems like yeah let's give it a shot. Yeah I'll sit down with you. You know we'll meet before school and have breakfast and plan it out, so I don’t know maybe that might help if more teachers are doing that more are collaborating then maybe that might help shift you know what it looks like. Moderator: So you're thinking that in younger grades you might actually be able to get more, maybe more that collaborative piece? SC-L3: I think so, and if enough people are doing it then maybe it will become you know at the fifth grade level what is should be. I don’t know. I mean that's just an idea I’m throwing out there but. Moderator: No I mean I'm assuming that you mean to would think that students for me, but it would be just like that collaborative piece with the teachers, but I'm assuming that the students would benefit as well I mean you would do- SB-L2: What I'm thinking, what I was thinking– I think I (Laughter) What I'm thinking is you know we started off with fifth grade. You know poetry kind of came in kind of for fourth grade. Wouldn't it be nice to just start off with maybe something special for each grade level? You know fourth grade is also Texas. You know we haven’t even the original developer sent an individual to come observe me when I was doing science. Her vision is to do social studies stations, and so you know I'm thinking fourth grade with Texas wouldn't it be cool to come up with some sort of Texas social studies lesson to maybe find something unique in each grade level and have something just special for them would be kind of cool to start off with. SA-L1: I could see that anyway, I like that. SC-L3: Wouldn't it be fun at a library meeting to have people pick their grade level they like and put people in groups that they would be most enthusiastic and they could plan and then we could just share out. That would be neat. SB-L2: That would be. So it wouldn't necessarily need to be always science but. Moderator: Although social studies I don’t know your campus but on my campus, I feel like because it's not STAAR tested, it gets – [Crosstalk] SB-L2: shoved to the back- Moderator: Yea way to the back. I mean especially like I know with fourth grade with because they've got reading, math, and writing, I mean its like if they – I mean they hardly you know and then science because they got to get ready for fifth grade, so their day is like pretty much you know compact. SB-L2: Yeah.
  • 223. 212 Moderator: Well, I appreciate you ladies’ input. Anything else? And like I said I'm going to go over this and then I'm going to – this is going to help me think of some other things that I we either didn’t discuss or I want more information about, I will put out on the blogs. And some of the comments you made I'm hoping your teachers will have some responses to you, and of course none of your names will be on it. They won't know which school it came from, but just kind of you know, and some general names, users. SC-L3: Take out the grumpy. Moderator: Yeah. SC-L3: And I was trying to be more confident. Moderator: No, no I know. SB-L2: And L3 like said- SC-L3: is an open book and probably says everything she means [Crosstalk]. Moderator: No. It will be much more general terms like you know the librarians had suggested that – SC-L3: Thank you. Moderator: – if you collaborated more that it would be you know the process might work better, and then I will back that up with my research shows that so what is your response to this. How could you maybe step up and be able a little more collaborative and such so now [Crosstalk] come on. SC-L3: You’re professional, you know what you’re doing SB-L2: I think we all have one of those. SC-L3: Momentary panic. Moderator: We think it, and we say it sometimes to the other people, but no, never. And like I said this will be transcribed, but that will basically be for me. I'll probably pull some quotes that will go into my dissertation, but the grumpy one of course won't be, but you know some general – and I would maybe mostly I'll be making generalizations about what was said and stuff so. SB-L2: Ok (Laughter) Moderator: But no don’t fear and of course all of you're welcome to read the 100 and – I think the writing is going be like a 200 page little tome that they say nobody reads but your advisors. It’s 130 right now, I guess I can pull out, it's a 100 and – is there anything else anyone has to say about the stations? [0:46:50] [Audio Ends]
  • 224. 213 APPENDIX L Compiled Blog Responses
  • 225. 214 APPENDIX L Compiled Blog Responses Questions for Dissertation Participants: Please respond to any or all of the following questions by posting a new comment under the appropriate question. Also please return and post comments on others remarks and comments. The blog will be available for comment May 20-May 31st! (Actually had it available until June 3). Question 1: This one is for teachers! What do you see as your role in implementing the stations? Do you think you should be more or less involved than you were? Why? (This question had no responses) Question #2: This one is also for teachers! Do you think your librarian and if applicable AST think you should be more or less involved in planning and implementing the stations? Why? (This question had no responses) Question #3: This is for everyone! What, if anything, do you know about research on the impact of school libraries in schools? SA-L1: Although I don't have data to prove this I believe that research in the library definitely makes an impact on schools. Librarians are a key role in a school and an extremely valuable resource. One of my goals for next year is to go back and look at CDB data. SC-L3: There have been many studies that outline the importance of library media programs in school and one article in particular does an excellent job reiterating what we as librarians feel is essential to make our role a successful one. Keith Curry Lance's article: How school librarians leave no child behind: The impact of school library media programs on academic achievement of U.S. public school students. He reports that common findings of these studies include: * Professionally trained and credentialed school library media specialists do make a difference that affects student performance on achievement tests. * Collaboration with teachers is essential. * Library media specialists cannot do their jobs effectively unless they have support staff who free them from routine tasks and enable them to participate in a variety of one-to- one and group meetings outside the library media center. * Library media specialists have a two-fold teaching role. They are teachers of students, facilitating the development of information literacy skills necessary for success in all content areas, and they are in-service trainers of teachers, keeping abreast of the latest information resources and technology.
  • 226. 215 * Library media specialists also must embrace technology to be effective. I feel that if all of these steps are in place, the library media center can have a remarkable and measurable impact on student achievement. SB-L2: While working on classes to obtain my library certification, I read an article that stated that students who have access to libraries and who are involved in research activities perform better (all around) than students who do not. Any type of research requires higher order thinking and this is part of academic rigor. Question #4: This one is for everyone! Do you think the stations have a greated impact on the fifth grader's science understandings in general, science vocabulary, or just overall interest in science? Why? SA-L1: Yes I believe that the science investigations have a impact on our 5th graders. It has been my experience that they love science and especially love it when it is hands on. They get to take the skills that they learned and apply it by actually doing it. SC-T5: I think that the stations have an impact on the students' overall interest in science, and their understandings of science in general. They need a lot of hands on experience, and often in our science lab, it will be a very structured experiment and a very guided lesson. The stations let them do the science with hands-on, but not necessarily with lots of teacher input. Reply to SC-T5 by SC-L3: I do feel that these centers help foster a greater enjoyment and understanding of the science curriculum. Besides the hands-on activities, my favorite part of the lesson is the conversations I get to have with the students as the stations are completed. I print out corresponding vocabulary cards for each station and use them to facilitate discussion with the class. It is a great chance to have them verbalize and extend their understanding of certain concepts, and to see which students need to be retaught a particular concept. Hearing them exclaim "This is fun!" or "I love science!" makes me realize that the more labs and hands-on activities we have with these kids, the greater impact we will have on their attitude toward science. SB-L2: I think when students are given an opportunity to move around, touch things, manipulate, and discuss, it is more interesting to them. I also like the idea of free choice. It allows students to spend as much, or as little time in one station as they want. Question #5: This is for everyone! What is one thing you would change that you think would improve the stations? SA-L1: I plan to add the vocabulary words and meanings by the stations next year. Reply to SA-L1 by SB-L2: I agree on adding more vocabulary to stations next year. It is important for students to see the vocabulary and be able to use it in different situations. SB-L2: It would be great to have an extra adult at each station to help facilitate discussions and answer any questions pertaining to that station. If you are running the stations with one or two adults, it makes it difficult to monitor everyone.
  • 227. 216 Question #6: This is for everyone! What is one thing you would change for next year about your involvement in the stations? Why? SA-L1: I would have more collaboration from the teachers. I would ask the teachers to give me details on what they want to tweak and what areas do they want to focus on. Reply to SA-L1 by SB-L2: One thing I will do next year is to better collaborate with the fifth grade teachers when planning and also analyze this year's STAAR scores to see if different objectives should be covered when creating the stations. If the teachers on my campus wish to do the centers again, I would be happy to plan other activities with them that best fit their needs. SC-T5: I am the special ed collaborative teacher (1st year at this position). I did not do the stations with the students this year, but would LOVE to try them with the kids next year! SB-L2: In the past the stations have been planned by myself and our AST. At this point, I don't see any changes. We will probably try and get more input from 5th grade teachers about the content covered at each station.