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Icon for: Phyllis Balcerzak

Abstract

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Learners to Leaders: A Graduate Institute for Biology Teachers

Washington University in St. Louis, a leader in life sciences education and research, has developed a master’s degree in biology specifically for in-service high school biology teachers from across the nation. The two-year program is a unique hybrid of on-campus and on-line courses, combining deep content in current biological research with progressive pedagogical practices. The on-line portion of the institute prepares teachers for leadership within their schools and districts, and graduates of the program are positioned for leadership in the future of biology education at a national level.

Our project has studied the relationship between teacher professional development and student learning with three cohorts of teachers from across the nation. We have found that a coordinated continuum of professional development practices organized through a university-based graduate degree program can influence teachers to become more effective. Results demonstrate that a combination of increased content knowledge, both improved and reflective practice, and leadership activities can bring about measurable increases in student learning.