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Professional Development | News

Study Finds SciPacks Increase Teacher, Student Science Comprehension

A study conducted by Edvantia found that teachers using the National Science Teachers Association's SciPacks professional development tool increased their own content knowledge and improved student learning.

Offered through NSTA's online Learning Center, SciPacks are interactive web-based modules designed to help teachers understand the science concepts they teach and how to present them. Each 10-hour-long unit provides narratives, simulations, assessments, and hands-on experiences. Mentors and advisors are also available via email for additional support.

The study focused on nearly 60 teachers and 300 of their students in grades 5, 6 and 8 in the Houston Unified School District. The teachers used the Earth's Changing Surface and Force and Motion SciPacks. It looked at how much the teachers used the SciPacks, the impact on their efficacy, instructional practices, and teacher and student understanding in earth science and force and motion.

The study found that teacher knowledge of earth science increased by approximately 17 percentile points, compared to only eight for the control group. The force and motion scores also improved by 16 percentile points, while the control group's scores went up five points.

The students showed similar gains in knowledge, with those in fifth grade improving 17 percentile points on the earth science assessment compared to less than 12 points in the control group. The sixth- and eighth-graders who studied force and motion raised their scores by 10 percentile points, while the control group's scores only went up by two.

A Resources and Human Impact SciPack is currently available for free, though others cost $31.99 for NSTA members and $39.99 for nonmembers.

The study is available at the NSTA Learning Center. More information about SciPacks is available at learningcenter.nsta.org.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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