Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) seeks funds to establish the Health Educational Research Opportunities for Teachers (HERO-T) program, a two-year summer research opportunity for science teachers from the Richmond, Virginia Metropolitan Area. The goal of the HERO-T program is to help improve the quality of science teaching as well as student achievement in secondary science classes by providing teachers with a substantive two-year research/ professional development experience. This goal will be accomplished by: a) Selecting fifteen high school science teachers, HERO-T fellows, to participate in two 8 week summer research experiences and a professional learning community (PLC) during two academic years. b) Providing teachers with research training, professional development and coaching. c) Selecting ten talented students from the teachers' schools, HERO-T student scholars, annually to attend the Center on Health Disparities (CoHD) Summer Research Symposium Special emphasis will be given to teachers from high-need districts, i.e. districts with more than 50% of the students eligible for reduced or free lunh and schools with high teacher attrition rates. The program will consist of the following components: The Laboratory Skills Bootcamp, a five-day intensive experience designed to develop the fellows' technical skills and prepare them to engage in laboratory-based research over the summer. The Mentored Research Experience where the fellows work with mentors, students, post docs, and trainees in the laboratory for five to seven weeks. The CoHD Summer Research Symposium is a one week event where participants in the CoHD research training programs present their research and students from local high schools attend/participate. The Workshop in Education: Translating Research to Curriculum Materials course is a 4 unit didactic continuing education course for teachers focused in which the develop curriculum materials based upon their research experience and grounded in research-based best practices in science education. The Research Process course, required for all first year HERO-T fellows who have never participated in laboratory research, is a 1 unit didactic continuing education course designed to facilitate the skills neededto become successful researchers. The PLC is a collaborative support network which meets monthly during the academic year, that provides programming to enhance instructional skills and assist in curriculum materials development and increase teacher retention in high-need districts. The grant request is for five years of support with the first summer research experience commencing 2014.
The goal of the HERO-T program is to help improve the quality of science teaching as well as student achievement in secondary science classes by providing teachers with a substantive two-year research/professional development experience. The anticipated outcomes are that teachers who participate in this summer research experience will have higher retention rates, have improved ability to communicate scientific concepts to their students, have a greater understanding of the applications of science to everyday life, and have improved research skills and knowledge. Furthermore a translational impact of this experience is that students in these teachers' classes will improve their academic performance in science.