An evaluation of a teacher development contract: an administrative project submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Administration at Massey University
This project reports an evaluation of a teacher development contract that was concerned with science teachers in primary and secondary schools in the Thames-Coromandel area. Teachers in the region were invited to become part of a group of twenty teachers, who met in a series of thirteen meetings and also participated in a series of classroom based visits. The teacher development programme was based on a Learning in Science Project (Teacher Development) course that was established as part of research into teacher professional development in science. The work was informed by a constructivist framework of teaching and learning. Data was collected by pre- and post-course survey documents, observations made during classroom visits with the course participants and reflective writing exercises undertaken during the course. Data collection was negotiated with the participants and was voluntary. The enthusiastic involvement of the course members suggests that teaching in a manner that takes into account students' thinking creates a positive learning environment in the classroom. Results showing significant changes in teacher behaviours suggested that the different teaching approach presented was attractive to classroom teachers. Classroom observations supported the results of the surveys. It was evident that along with these changes in classroom practice, teachers' views and theories concerning science teaching and learning developed in ways consistent with features of a constructivist approach to teaching and learning. Teachers expressed their support for what they saw as a new approach to teaching science and felt more confident with dealing with science topics. This was especially evident with the primary teachers on the course. The teacher development programme in science, junior primary to form five, appeared to be successful in achieving its aims. These aims were to help teachers develop their ideas regarding the importance of on-going professional development, to help teachers learn about research findings on how students learn science and to develop their classroom practice to take into account students' thinking.