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U-FUTuRES Profile

U-FUTuRES: University of Florida Unites Teachers to Reform Education in Science


University of Florida Unites Teachers to Reform Education in Science (U-FUTuRES) at the 6th-8th grade level is an Institute Partnership between the University of Florida's P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School College of Education, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and Center for Precollegiate Education and Training; the Levy County School District; the Northeast Florida Educational Consortium and associated school districts; and the University of Michigan.

The partnership is engaging in collaborative implementation of a coherent, learning goals- and inquiry-driven, problem-based, and standards-aligned science curriculum (Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology), and is developing sustainable school district capacity for leading this reform through: (1) a 36-credit, job-embedded Science Teacher Leadership graduate degree program co-facilitated by UF College of Education and UF STEM partners in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; (2) ongoing support for the Science Teacher Leaders (STLs) as they train and coach 6th-8th grade science teachers in their school districts; (3) partnering with STLs as they organize district leadership to support reform oriented science instruction in middle schools that increases achievement and engagement among underrepresented student populations; and (4) UF cross-departmental partnerships dedicated to supporting improvements in 6th-8th grades science achievement while simultaneously stimulating an inquiry-based approach in introductory UF STEM courses. The 40 middle school science teachers serving as District STLs coach an average of 10 middle school science teachers in their home districts, impacting 58,500 middle school students in 20 Florida school districts in primarily high poverty rural and urban areas.

An iterative process is being used for design, development, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the U-FUTuRES Science Teacher Leadership Institute, with associated research questions that focus on the impact of STL-facilitated professional learning communities and instructional support strategies:(1) What is the effect of STLs on middle school science teachers' practices? (2) Do differences in STL approaches to professional learning communities influence science teacher practices and students' science achievement outcomes? (3) Are there differences in achievement and academic engagement of traditionally underrepresented students in science that vary by approach to professional learning communities? Specific evidence-based STL strategies for facilitating equitable growth in middle school students' science content knowledge, classroom engagement, and academic competence are being identified to inform our nation's efforts to increase diversity and capacity in the STEM pipeline.

U-FUTuRES leverages the success of past UF/K-12 partnerships to directly involve new-to-teacher-training or new-to-inquiry-based-teaching STEM faculty in designing inquiry-based, science content courses as a comprehensive, learning goals-driven approach for STLs responsible for leading middle school science reform in their districts. Efforts include (1) Research in Action days for school teams interested in observing, studying, and implementing inquiry-based science, (2) participation of preservice science education students in guided field-based experiences, (3) production of short video recordings that provide web-based support for transforming middle school science teaching, and (4) a Teacher Inquiry Series to support teacher-to-teacher collaboration dedicated to equity in middle school science academic achievement, engagement, and competence through standards-driven, inquiry-based science. All teacher training modules, case studies, and validated protocols for leading middle school science professional learning communities are freely available to interested school districts who are not directly engaged in the partnership. A U-FUTuRES Science Reform Leadership Institute is also offered to interested district/school leadership teams.