Active Science Learning 

Professional Development and Support for Hands-on Science 

References: General Benefits (*) Professional Development (**)

*Afterschool Alliance. (January, 2013). Evaluations backgrounder: A summary of formal evaluations of afterschool programs’ impact on academics, behavior, safety and family life. Washington, DC: Author.

*Ashby, C. (2006). Higher education: Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics trends and the role of federal programs (GAO-06-702T). Washington, DC: United States, Government Accountability Office.

*Baldi, S., Jin, Y., Skemer, M., Green, P. J., & Herget, D. (2007). Highlights from PISA 2006: Performance of U.S. 15-year-old students in science and mathematics literacy in an international context (NCES 2008–016). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

**Ball, D., & Cohen, D. (1996). Reform by the book: What is—or might be—the role of curriculum materials in teacher learning and instructional reform? Educational Researcher, 25(9), 68.

*Beede, D., Julian, T., Khan, B., Lehrman, R., McKittrick, G., Langdon, D., & Doms, M. (2011). Education supports racial and ethnic equality in STEM. [ESA Issue Brief #05–11]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce.

*Beede. D., Julian, T., Langdon, D., McKittrick, G., Khan, B., & Doms, M. (2011). Women in STEM: A gender gap to innovation. [ESA Issue Brief #04–11]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce.

**Boyle, B., Lamprianou, I., & Boyle, T. (2005). A longitudinal study of teacher change: What makes professional development effective? Report of the second year of the study. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 16(1), 1–27.

*Clark, J. V. (1999). Minorities in science and math. (ERIC digest # ED433216). Retrieved from

**Cohen, D. K., & Hill, H. C. (2001). Learning policy: When state education reform works. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

**Darling-Hammond, L., Wei, R. C., Andree, A., Richardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009). State of the profession: Study measures status of professional development. Journal of Staff Development, 30(2), 42-44.

*Falkenberg, K., McClure, P., & McComb, E. M. (2006). Science in afterschool literature review. Greensboro, NC: SERVE Center at UNCG.

*Ferreira, M. (2001). The effect of an after-school program addressing the gender and minority achievement gaps in science, mathematics, and engineering. ERS Spectrum, Arlington, VA: Educational Research Service.

*Ferreira, M. (2002) Ameliorating equity in science, mathematics, and engineering: A case study of an after-school science program. Equity and Excellence in Education, 35(1), 43-49.

**Garet, M. S., Porter, A. C, Desimone, L., Birman, B. F., & Yoon, K. S. (2001). What makes professional development effective? Results from a national sample of teachers. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 915–945.

*Granger, R., Durlak, J., Yohalem, N., & Reisner, E. (2007, April). Improving after-school program quality. New York, NY: William T. Grant Foundation.

*Hammrich, P. L., Livingston, B. & Richardson, G. (2002). The sisters in science program: Barriers broken and lessons learned. Philadelphia: Author.

*Jolly, E., Campbell, P., & Perlman, L. (2004, September). Engagement, capacity and continuity: A trilogy for student success. A report commissioned by the GE Foundation.

*Langdon, D., McKittrick, G., Beede, D., Khan, B., & Doms, M. (2011). STEM: Good jobs now and for the future. [ESA Issue Brief #03–11]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce.

**Loucks-Horsley, S., Love, N., Stiles, K. E., Mundry, S., & Hewson, P. W. (2003). Designing professional development for teachers of science and mathematics (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

**Little, P., Wimer, C., & Weiss, H. (2008, February). After school programs in the 21st century: Their potential and what it takes to achieve it. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project.

**McCombs, B., & Pope, J. E. (1994). Motivating hard to reach students (psychology in the classroom: a series on applied educational technology). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

*McClure, P., & Rodriguez, A. (2007). Factors related to advance course-taking patterns, persistence in STEM, and the role of out-of-school-time programs: A literature review. Commissioned by the Coalition for Afterschool Greensboro NC: SERVE Center at University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

*Miller, B. (2003). Critical hours: Afterschool programs and educational success. Braintree, MA: Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

*Schwartz, S.E.O., & Noam, G.G. (2007). Informal science learning in afterschool settings: A natural fit? Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences Committee on Learning in Informal Environments.

**Smith, C., Akiva, T., Sugar, S., Lo, Y. J., Frank, K. A., Peck, S. C., Cortina, K. S., & Devaney, T. (2012).  Continuous quality improvement in afterschool settings: Impact findings from the Youth Program Quality Intervention study. Washington, DC: The Forum for Youth Investment.

*Tai, R., Liu, C., Maltese, A., & Fan, X. (2006). Planning early for careers in science. Science, 312(5777), 1143–1144.

*Vandell, D. L., Reisner, R. R., & Pierce, K. M. (2007, October).Outcomes linked to high-quality afterschool programs: Longitudinal findings from the study of promising afterschool programs. Irvine, CA: Policy Associates.


(Excerpted from a recent funding proposal. © Hutchison 2014)

Overall Benefits of Afterschool Attendance

Even before we examine the benefits of afterschool on specific areas of learning, we find evidence that children who attend “well-run (OST) programs” on a regular and frequent basis experience strong, positive outcomes in both youth development and academic learning (Granger, Durlak, Yohalem, & Reisner, 2007; Miller, 2003; Falkenberg, McClure, & McComb, 2006; Vandell et al. 2007). In addition, a more recent summary of evaluations of afterschool programs found strong evidence of afterschool programs’ impact on academics, behavior, safety and family life. (Afterschool Alliance, 2013).

National Policy and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce

Afterschool science, in particular, offers a solution to a national need. It is well-documented that national test scores on science and math aptitude tests are disappointing relative to our industrial competitors, and that enrollment in higher level study and careers in science and engineering fields is declining, all at a time of increasing demand for STEM workers and professionals in the 21st century U.S. economy (Baldi, Jin, Skemer, Green, & Heget, 2007; Ashby, 2006; Langdon, McKittrick, Beede, Khan, & Doms, 2011). Nowhere is the decline in performance or enrollment more alarming than among youth from low-income, underserved populations and populations that have been chronically underrepresented in the science and engineering fields (e.g., women, African Americans, Hispanics, and others) (Clark, 1999; Jolly, Campbell, & Perlman, 2004; Beede, Julian, Khan, et al., 2011; Beede, Julian, Langdon, et al., 2011). Fortunately, the potential for afterschool programs to re-ignite students’ interest specifically in science is also well-documented. Many afterschool science programs show promising results in influencing students’ awareness of science and science careers, promoting their identity and self-efficacy as scientists, and igniting or developing interest in specific science topics (Ferreira 2001, 2002; Furman & Barton, 2006; Hammrich, Livingston, & Richardson, 2002; see also the literature review by Schwartz & Noam, 2007) And we know that interest in science careers in middle school better predicts eventual entry into the STEM workforce than  aptitude on standardized science tests does (Tai et al 2006).

Links to formal Science Learning Afterschool Science and Science Practices

But afterschool science should not attempt to become an extension of formal science learning. Its strength is to complement – lay the foundations for – academic learning, by nurturing interest and identification with science and by increasing the use and understanding of the science practices which the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have placed firmly back on the school science agenda.

In fact it is precisely in the area of science practices that afterschool science, if it were widely available, could provide a crucial equalizer for students that attend elementary and middle schools in which constructivist, practice-based science learning has virtually disappeared. NGSS aims/hopes to bring these practices back into school science, but it may be some time before the majority of classroom science lessons in schools have the authenticity and depth that is possible in the best afterschool settings. Opportunities for student to develop and use scientific practices in afterschool science programs in ways that support, build on, and truly compliment their school science learning, may hold the key to moving all student forward. Thus, high-quality science programming in afterschool—both by virtue of the point of access to underserved and underachieving groups, and by virtue of the pedagogical approach taken—offers a viable strategy to increase both the interest and capacity of students from the targeted populations to enroll and persist in the higher level math and science courses that would lead to STEM courses in college and then on to the STEM workforce (McClure & Rodriguez, 2007)


Rationale for Ongoing Professional Development

Research from the formal school sector has demonstrated that professional development of [school based] science teachers works best (i.e., permanently improves teaching practice in ways that lead to positive student outcomes) when it involves an ongoing relationship with respected trainers or mentors and is grounded in well-designed and engaging curricula (Loucks-Horsley et al., 2003). After more than a decade working to increase the quality and quantity of STEM programming available in afterschool programs, we believe that Loucks-Horsley’s findings substantially apply to the afterschool domain as well.

Experience and research agree that occasional or episodic training is ineffective in changing behavior or building new skills in either instructors or children (Ball & Cohen, 1996; Boyle, Lamprianou, & Boyle, 2005; Darling-Hammond, Wei, Andree, Richardson, & Orphanos, 2009). The Harvard Family Research Project concluded that “programs work better in promoting positive outcomes when they are explicitly focused and targeted to specific outcomes. Intentional, focused programming entails a clear vision and goals for the program from the start, as well as strong, directed leadership and sustained training and support to staff” [emphasis added] (Little et al., 2008, p. 8). When professional learning focuses on specific curriculum, “[Teachers] . . . are more motivated when they can see the usefulness of what they are learning and when they can use that information to do something that has an impact on others,” (McCombs & Pope, 1994) and teachers are more likely to adopt new practices, leading to better instruction, greater student learning, and increases in subject matter knowledge (Cohen & Hill, 2001; Garet et al., 2001)......