There has been a dramatic growth in the purchase and use of interactive whiteboards (IWBs) for K-12 classrooms. These products promote the use of engaging instruction that can address various styles of learning and have demonstrated results in terms of enhanced comprehension and retention. However, there is currently a lack of prepared, high quality, standards-based science content for use on IWBs. Furthermore, teachers lack the necessary time, experience and resources to develop IWB science lessons on their own. We will evaluate the effectiveness of our prototype IWB lesson module, Plant &Animal Cell Structure &Function, through a teacher focus group followed in-school pilot testing (Specific Aim 1). We will collect and analyze detailed feedback which will inform us of modifications that are needed to the software and the lessons. We will then create and pilot test two additional IWB lesson modules (Specific Aim 2). Our IWB curriculum modules will provide complete, prepackaged, ready-to-use products - including the software and the content for interactive science lessons. The software will be usable by any teacher who has an interactive whiteboard, regardless of the brand. These interactive lessons will also be available on CD and via the Internet, for use on any computer. We will test and evaluate the software and accompanying lessons through teacher focus groups and in-school pilot testing in middle school life science classes in the Rochester, NY area. We will conduct focus groups with middle school science teachers to evaluate the functionality, features and benefits of the software and lesson modules. We will then pilot test the IWB lessons in middle school science classrooms spanning urban, suburban and rural demographics. We will collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative evaluation data from the focus groups and from teachers who pilot test the IWB lessons in their classrooms. We will use teacher feedback to refine and edit the software and lesson components as needed to assure they meet the needs of teachers and their students. This proposed project is significant because it will have a positive impact on teachers'abilities to effectively use interactive whiteboards and expand the impact of this technology on student performance. This proposed project is innovative because the software and interactive lessons to be developed during this SBIR Phase I project will be a vast improvement over the educational products currently available for teaching science with IWBs.
This project is extremely relevant to public health both in terms of the educational software platform developed for use with interactive whiteboards as well as the associated lesson content. This educational software for interactive whiteboards will allow for engaging activities that are especially important for the instruction of complex topics pertaining to life science and human health, which require interactivity and inquiry. The lesson content will promote enhanced student interest and understanding of the human body and allow students to become better informed concerning decisions involving their health and fighting disease.