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Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the developer, PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE, and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation.

LIVE FROM MARS 2001: Educators Evaluation and Assessment

 

What teachers use it?

The registrations, both in their on-line form and as postcards, were targeted to teachers or those working with students. Among classroom teachers, the spread across grade levels continues to be quite distributed for these two modules as found with the earlier modules. However, the largest set of users is middle school teachers.

The following tables provide background information on the teachers who responded to these registrations. We do not have an accurate way of telling just what percent those that chose to complete a registration form are to the complete universe of teachers who use PtK. The return rate for LFA2 postcards (41) represents less than ten percent of the print guides and kits shipped, all of which had postcards in them.

However, we know that many of the teachers who got the print guide completed the on-line version of the registration instead. Yet even the numbers of completed on-line registrations (348) is just a small percentage of the growing number of visitors to the site (weekly average by end of the spring semester exceeded 59,000 hits per week). The numbers for the LFM registrations are at a similar return rate. We know that the majority of people visiting a web site do not enter in personal information if given the choice. However, we think that the combined postcard and on-line responses for both of these modules are high enough (389 for LFA2 and 923 for LFM) to warrant the projection of the percentages to the entire population of teachers using PtK.

Incidentally, these numbers are cited through May of 1997. On-line registrations for both LFM and LFA2 continue to come in, averaging 60+ new teacher registrations per month for LFM and over 20 each month for LFA2.

 

Table One: Grade Level Taught by PtK Participants:

Voluntary Registration Information

 

LFA2 postcards

N= 41

LFA2 on-line

N=348

LFM postcards

N=87

LFM on-line

N=836

Lower Elementary

K-3

14.81%

23.66%

8.05%

7.78%

Upper Elementary

4-6

37.04%

21.43%

27.59%

27.87%

Middle School

7-8

29.63%

24.55%

52.87%

29.67%

High School

9-12

11.11%

16.96%

8.05%

15.79%

Other K-12

 

7.41%

10.27%

2.30%

10.05%

The differences between LFA2 and LFM show that, as expected, LFA2 could be adapted more readily to the curriculum found in younger grades and thus was used by a greater number of teachers at this level than LFM.

We combined the Postcard and the On-line data for the remaining questions.

Table Two: Subject Area Taught by PtK Participants

 

LFA2 Registrations

N=389

LFM Registrations

N=923

Generalist (teaches multiple subjects)

49.3%

36.36%

Science Specialist

 

25.8%

35.53%

Other or

Not Applicable

24.9%

28.11%

Table Three: Average Number of Classes

 

LFA2 Registrations

N=389

LFM Registrations

N=923

Per Teacher

Registering

3.98 classes

4.56 classes

 

 

Table Four: Percent of Participating Schools by Community Population Density

 

National Percentages (from 1995 Digest of Educational Statistics

LFA2 Registrations

N=389

LFM Registrations

N=923

Rural

 

31.5%

26.8%

25.96%

Suburban

 

23.7%

26.8%

26.91%

Small City

 

16.9%

30.9%

25.24%

Medium to Large

City

(over 1,000,000)

25.6%

15.5%

16.63%

While it appears that PtK might wish to specifically target urban areas in the future since it appears that participants from schools in these areas are under represented, this finding is also in line with the 1997 QED report that indicates lower income urban areas have less access to various types of technology.

 

Table Five: Average Years of Teaching

 

LFA2 Registrations

N=389

LFM Registrations

N=923

 

15 years

14 years

It is interesting to note that a subsequent survey for PtK Advocates found that they are veteran teachers with over 17 years experience on average.

Table Six: Teachers who have Used Other On-line Projects

 

LFA2 Registrations

N=389

LFM Registrations

N=923

None

66.4%

52.75%

Once

5.0%

8.85%

A few

19.5%

23.68%

Many

9.1%

9.81%

This clearly indicates that PtK modules are serving as working in-service programs for teachers. Well over half of all teachers are gaining their initial experiences with using the Internet for classroom instruction via PtK.

 

Table Seven: Prior Experience with PtK Modules

 

LFA2 Registrations

N=389

LFM Registrations

N=923

Live from Antarctica (original module)

2.6%

8.25%

Live from the

Stratosphere

1.7%

6.45%

Live from the

Hubble Space

Telescope

1.7%

9.93%

Live From Mars

7.4%

N/A

No Prior Ptk

Involvement

80.9%

76.79%

These percentages indicate that PtK is successful at appealing to a new and growing audience – it is not just the same group of early adopters although there is a core group of committed participants. The numbers also reflect the rapid growth in PtK participation. There is a significant difference between the two groups however. LFM definitely attracted and held on to the target group of middle and upper middle school teachers. It should also be noted that LFM started in the fall of 1996 and continued throughout the academic year thus completely overlapping LFA2. Some teachers may not have had the time to commit to an additional module while actively participating in LFM.

Taken together, tables six and seven indicate that PtK needs to provide a range of experiences for its different groups of teachers: the large group of teachers who are new to PtK and new to on-line require different amounts of support, modeling, and planning time well in advance of activities. Experienced users can dive in much faster and deal with the rich assortment of possible options. Passport has also addressed this differential by actively using the experienced teachers – those who are advocates and those not formally designated as such – to model for and in some cases even provide mentoring to newer participants.

With a few notable exceptions, LA Unified for instance, PtK is not centrally selected at the district level and its use mandated as might be the case with a comprehensive full year or multi-year science curriculum. The fact that some of this country's best science teachers, those who are recognized as exceptional both regionally and nationally, choose to utilize Passport to Knowledge and become regular, repeat users is one of the strongest indications of its success. Perhaps more impressive is that these sophisticated science teachers provide the backbone of a teaching community that welcomes less experienced teachers and non-science teachers.

For the experienced teacher, working with Passport to Knowledge has led to professional recognition. Several active PtK teachers have received state or national recognition for their classroom work with the modules – see page 44 from PtK’s Year Two NSF Progress Report.

We examined those teachers who worked as PtK Advocates this year in a separate survey that went beyond the data collected as part of the registration. As the table below shows, not only have these teachers supported PtK by giving workshops, critiquing activity plans, providing video footage for the broadcasts, and seeding the on-line discussions, they are, to a large degree, representative of the most experienced of PtK teachers.

 

Table Eight: PtK Advocates

 

Advocate Responses N=39

Previous Modules you have used in the classroom

  1. LFA original
  2. Live from the Stratosphere
  3. Live from the Hubble Space

Telescope

 

 

    1. 52.9%
    2. 52.9%
    3. 64.7%

Number of years teaching

 

17.1

Years of experience with on-line projects

  1. none
  2. my first year
  3. two years
  4. three years
  5. four or more years

 

    1. 0%
    2. 15.4%
    3. 30.8%
    4. 23.1%
    5. 30.8%

Offered workshops on PtK modules within your district this year:

  1. none
  2. one
  3. two
  4. three
  5. four

 

 

    1. 23.7%
    2. 42.1%
    3. 23.7%
    4. 7.9%
    5. 2.6%

Offered workshops on PtK outside of your district this year

  1. none
  2. one
  3. two
  4. three
  5. four
  6. five or more
    1. 35.9%
    2. 17.9%
    3. 12.8%
    4. 17.9%
    5. 0
    6. 15.4%

Presentations to groups other than classroom teachers

  1. none
  2. Curriculum specialists
  3. Technology coordinators
  4. Building level administrators
  5. District level administrators
  6. State Ed Dept. personnel
  7. People in informal ed programs
  8. Parents
    1. 42.9%
    2. 31.4%
    3. 25.7%
    4. 20%
    5. 28.6%
    6. 8.6%
    7. 5.7%
    8. 14.3%
   

Did you support any other teachers in your building or on-line?

Yes – 66.7%

Did you write up anything for publication about your experiences with PtK

Yes – 60.5%

 

These responses indicate that it will be worthwhile looking at the different groups within PtK teachers as separate and discrete groups. Some initial work on this is reported in the subsequent section on case studies but it needs to be enhanced in the Year Three overall report.

Going back to the registration information collected on PtK users as a whole, the final query on the registration forms focused on whether participating teachers planned to use the PtK module in a team teaching setting. This is one indicator that PtK modules appeal across disciplines and encourage practices that are associated with educational reform. As with our earlier reports, the number of teachers who are team teaching these modules is surprisingly high.

Table Nine: Teachers who Plan to Use PtK in a Team Teaching Situation

 

LFA2 Registrations

N=389

LFM Registrations

N=923

Yes

51.5%

47.13%

No

48.9%

44.98%

 

Note: in all of the previous tables where percentages in columns do not add up to 100%, the remaining percentages were respondents who either skipped the question or responded "not applicable."

As stated above, these registrations were both voluntary and were mostly limited to responses from teachers using the materials with students. For several of our other surveys, we sent them to all participants who were active subscribers to a relevant list serv for the PtK module. Responses to these surveys consistently indicated that PtK modules appeal to a far broader constituency then what we had defined for registration purposes.

For instance, the survey that examined utilization of the second LFM video "Cruising Between Planets." Of the 579 returned surveys in a few weeks after the original broadcast (an approximately 20% return rate) , the following percentages apply:

 

Table Ten: Respondents to Reaction Survey to LFM’s Second Live Broadcast on April 24, 1997

K-12 teacher working in public or private school and using LFM actively with students.

 

25.9%

K-12 teacher using LFM for professional development experience

 

15.5%

Adult responsible for supervising a home schooling program

 

2.7%

Adult working with students in an informal or after school setting

 

4.0%

Someone personally interested in the topic but not using it with students

32.2%

Family recreational activity

3.3%

K-12 student doing independent study

1.6%

Other

14.8%

These break outs as to who is participating are similar to what we found in our other feedback surveys. In each case, the majority of the educational respondents are indeed teachers in K-12 schools using it directly for student instruction.

However, there is always a large group of interested adults also participating to some degree (they have at least signed up for one of the listservs and have not unsubscribed). Judging from the responses posted in the other category, some of these are what might be best described as adult learners – people who are interested in the topic and who are following along. The appeal of, and participation in, technology-based educational resources to those outside the formal schooling structure adds an interesting dimension to discussions of life-long learning and community involvement in education. Most of these people would not think of sitting in a fifth grade science class for a semester.

Other adults in this group are scientists, researchers and engineers who are interested observers.

The number of teachers who are "lurking" as part of their own professional development is also significant. It seems that many want to observe and get familiar with the module or how on-line curriculum projects work before bringing in students. This group, when combined with the information about the number of teachers who are using it with students but for their first on-line instructional experiences, makes a strong case for PtK’s impact as an important professional development vehicle apart from its goals of impacting students directly. PtK is clearly playing a role in providing a comprehensive, successful technology integration experience for teachers who are working in schools that are beginning to get connected to the Internet.

Finally, there are more than 10% of the participants who are using PtK with students but in alternative educational settings – the home or in after school clubs and programs.

In summary, PtK modules are being used by their intended audience – middle school teachers. But unlike many curriculum efforts, they are also appealing to and having impact on a wide range of learners outside this target.

 

How are teachers finding out about PtK modules?

Several of the surveys tried to uncover how teachers found their way to PtK. Indications are that most teachers who use PtK are making an individual selection to add this to their classrooms. Some were directed here during a workshop or by a curriculum or technology coordinator who was familiar with the project.

Table Eleven: How did you find out about Live From Mars? (514 respondents)

Through a posting to an educational e-mail list

24.9%

Through a print mailing

5.5%

At an inservice workshop

3.7%

Television schedule or PBS station outreach

1.9%

Through an Internet Search Engine

9.1%

Link from another NASA site

23.7%

Link from CNN

0.4%

Link from PBS

1.0%

Link from Discovery Channel

1.2%

From a magazine article

2.3%

From another teacher, parent or colleague

5.3%

Other

11.5%

While print mailings are a major way of getting attention, on-line publicity is also effective. Given the rapid change in on-line availability, the growth of links from other educational and non-educational web sites, and the indexing by commercial search engines, we should examine more closely how teachers are finding their way to PtK in year three to determine where best to put scarce marketing efforts for maximum gain.

Foreward Year 2 Report Introducation Who Is Using P2K? How Is P2K Being Used Student Outcomes