Since launching in 2012, Science in the Classroom (SitC) has had over 500,000 visitors. Their general consensus? SitC is awesome! We often hear things like, "I will use SitC with my class!" "My students will understand primary scientific literature thanks to SitC!"
For the team behind SitC, this kind of feedback is wonderful. It makes us feel satisfied with our work and proud to have developed such a useful tool for the scientific and education communities. But, do we take this anecdotal feedback at their word? I mean, how can we measure awesome-ness? Are teachers really using SitC with their students? Are students really understanding primary scientific literature when they use SitC?
The research team of Science in the Classroom, located at Florida International University, is working to answer these questions. They are currently collecting data on how users interact with SitC, how teachers teach with SitC, and what kind of student learning takes place when SitC is part of the curricula. They use different methods to collect these data ranging from Likert-scale questionnaires, to short answer questions, to teacher and student interviews. Integrating these results together will allow the team to scientifically describe how SitC is changing the STEM education landscape.
Like all research studies, understanding the teaching and learning gains taking place with SitC will take time. The FIU research team of professors, postdocs, research analysts, and undergraduate research assistants is working hard designing studies, collecting and analyzing data, and publishing their results. You can find their first publication on how students respond to SitC resources in an introductory undergraduate biology course here. Stay tuned, we'll have much more to share with you soon!