The Arctic Climate Modeling Program: Professional Development for Rural Teachers
The Arctic Climate Modeling Program (ACMP) offered yearlong science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professional development to teachers in rural Alaska. Teacher training focused on introducing youth to workforce technologies used in Arctic research. Due to challenges in making professional development accessible to rural teachers, ACMP modified the traditional ITEST format, instead offering unique “curriculum resource-based professional development” that provided a year-round mix of training options for 165 teachers. Sustainable program resources were created in collaboration with scientists from five research centers to mimic the processes and instruments used to study Arctic climate. Teachers were involved in the iterative design process because research indicates that teacher input into curriculum development builds teacher enthusiasm, pedagogical content knowledge, and a sense of ownership of the end product. This study explores the question: Did the ACMP professional development framework provide teachers in rural Alaska schools with the tools and knowledge they needed to improve STEM instruction? A grounded theory approach was used to analyze teacher qualitative feedback. Teacher comments were coded and patterns analyzed in three databases. This analysis, along with student field-test data, provides evidence that the ACMP model is a feasible alternative to the ITEST model for offering teacher STEM professional development in rural areas. Teacher feedback indicates that ACMP was particularly successful in increasing student engagement in the scientific process and enhancing student technology skills.
This article is part of a special issue of the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education (JTATE).