Project NEURON: Novel Education for Understanding Research On Neuroscience will bring together scientists, science educators, teachers, and students to develop and disseminate curriculum materials that connect frontier science with national and state science standards. The breadth and depth of the NIH-funded research at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC) will allow us to link cutting-edge NIH-funded neuroscience research with educational research examining how teachers and students learn. Project NEURON will also help teachers integrate the newly-developed materials into existing state curriculum frameworks to extend students'understanding of science in meaningful and engaging ways. Project NEURON fills a critical need identified in numerous documents (e.g., AAAS, 1993;CPGE, 2005;NRC, 1996;and NRC, 2007) and scholarly reports (e.g., MacNabb et al., 2006) by connecting teachers'and students'learning of science with recent scientific research findings. Using a curriculum design framework developed from current research on teaching and learning, we will develop a series of curriculum modules that link national and state science standards with neuroscience content. In doing so, we respond to the call for "science for all" (AAAS, 1989). However, educational research has shown that it is not enough to simply develop inquiry-materials;professional development for teachers needs to be included for successful use of the materials in the spirit in which they were developed (Putman &Borko, 2000). Thus, a large goal of Project NEURON is extended professional development for teachers focused on both content and pedagogical content knowledge development. The three specific aims of Project NEURON are to: Develop and disseminate curriculum modules that integrate up-to-date science research and current science standards for use in secondary science classrooms; Improve instructional practices of secondary science teachers by providing professional development for teachers and graduate students in the Neuroscience Program (NSP) and the Curriculum and Instruction (CI) graduate program focused on content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge in key neuroscience ideas and basic science concepts; Improve student engagement and learning of key science concepts through inquiry-based approaches using frontier neuroscience as a context. To achieve these specific aims, we will: 1. Develop a series of curriculum modules that will include in-class materials connected to current state and national science curriculum standards using neuroscience research performed on the UIUC campus and assessment instruments to evaluate student understanding of key concepts and practices. 2. Develop an on-going series of professional development opportunities for teachers, including summer professional development institutes and professional development opportunities during the school year;and graduate students in the Neuroscience Program (NSP) and the Curriculum and Instruction (CI) graduate program. 3. Develop and implement a project evaluation that provides both formative and summative evaluation about the effectiveness of Project NEURON and a context to ask and answer research questions focusing on the teaching and learning of science. 4. Develop a dissemination mechanism that will ensure materials and findings are accessible through a Project NEURON website as well as through opportunities provided by the University of Illinois Global Campus On-line professional development effort and the University of Illinois Office of Public Engagement Office. 5. Present at science and science education conferences and submit articles in peer-reviewed journals for publication.
(provided by applicant): By using innovative educational approaches, the NEURON project will bring neuroscience to the high school science classroom. Neuroscience research is critical for all to understand as it impacts the health and well-being of the public in a variety of ways. While neuroscience may seem to be a highly focused sub-discipline in biology, it actually embraces a range of scientific disciplines such as developmental biology, cell biology, genetics, chemistry, psychology, and research approaches, such as pharmacology, molecular biology, behavior, cell culture, and genomics. By using the context of neuroscience, we will be able to integrate key science standards and benchmarks currently taught in the middle and high school science curriculum to current research and students'everyday lives.
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