2013 Research Experience for Teachers Program Report

2013 Post-RET Survey Report

Following CIAN’s 2013 ROKET (Research in Optics for K-14 Educators and Teachers) program, participants were asked to complete a survey administered via surveymonkey.com. Eleven out of 15 responded to the survey, which aimed at measuring differences between pre and post-program levels of confidence in specific teaching skills, as well as any change in attitudes regarding their roles as teachers.

First, the survey presented respondents with a matrix of statements about teacher characteristics and asked them to indicate their level of agreement with those statements. The pre-program and post-program results are displayed in Figures A and B. Though individual attitudes saw some changes, shifts in attitude for the overall respondent group were very minor; 82% or more of respondents agreed with all statements to a Moderate or Great Extent both before and after the program.


Figure A: Pre-Program 2013


Figure B: Post-Program 2013

Next, pre and post-program surveys asked respondents to indicate their level of confidence in a specified set of skills in order to assess if the RET ROKET program boosted their confidence in these skills. The figures below contain the survey data from before and after the program, and it was found that 20% of the pre-program survey responses were “Slightly confident,” while only 1% of the post survey were “Slightly confident” responses. Additionally, “Very Confident” responses increased from 40% before program to 71% after. The dramatic drop in “Slightly confident” responses and the significant increase in “Very confident” responses clearly demonstrate that the ROKET program was beneficial in boosting participants’ confidence in their skills.


Figure C: 2013 Pre-Program


Figure D: 2013 Post-Program

The following table depicts areas in which, following the summer research experience, the teachers saw the greatest increase in their confidence and areas where greater confidence levels could be attained:

Areas of greatest confidence

Areas for improvement

Ability to make presentations at teacher in-services or professional meetings

Ability to supervise Research projects

Ability to incorporate technology (computers, the Internet, DVDs, etc.) into your teaching

Ability to advise students about job opportunities in the subject area

Ability to develop appropriate and authentic assessment tools

Ability to mentor beginning teachers

Knowledge about the application of the subject

Ability to use inquiry-based practices

The ROKET Experience:

For 100% of the participants who responded to the survey, their expectations were met to a “Moderate” or “Great” extent. They also listed many skills and positive experiences which they took away from the program:

  • “The ideas of TEK from the AILDI portion will be present in my curriculum this year… Dr. Mike’s daily presentations and mini demonstrations provided me with excellent ideas for my students.”
  • “I now understand the basics of optics.”
  • “New hands on material, better idea of what optics science relates to, culturally relevant lessons, resources, equipment, a revived enthusiasm.”
  • “The ability to translate my summer lab experience to a level to which my M.S./H.S. students could succeed at.”

When asked what the most rewarding aspect of the RET program was, some of the teachers said the following:

  • “The content learned from the instructors was rewarding for me because it can be useful at the grade level that I am teaching.”
  • “Research- I learned a TON from my mentor.”
  • “The most rewarding part of the program was the family I met, my fellow classmates who share common aspirations and calling, to bring a difference in the lives of Native American students. We did learn from each other and the entire experience which has a ripple effect, from the university mentoring us so we can better serve our students, our students to reach out to others and hopefully be a University of Arizona student.”
  • “The development of the research culminating in the poster.”
  • “Integration of TEK to my lessons.”

RET participants also identified some challenging aspects of the program, such as:

  • “I was most challenged by the creation of the poster mainly because I had never created one before and didn’t know what was expected.”
  • “Many reading & writing assignments.”
  • “The full language immersion program associated with the AILDI program.”
  • “AILDI course work”

Despite the challenges, 100% of the participants agreed that the summer research experience positively impacted them, and 91% also stated that they learned a moderate to great deal about optics compared to what they knew before.  Additionally, 64% of the respondents indicated that interaction with their mentors was “more than sufficient, someone was always available to answer my questions.”  Also, 82% agreed that the research experience was “structured enough,” such that there was a good balance between structured learning opportunities and freedom to pursue personal creativity and projects.  Finally, when asked whether the lesson plan workshops were useful, 55% of participants selected “not at all useful.”

The figure below shows participant agreement with statements about various aspects of the summer research experience, with general attitudes reflecting an extremely positive experience for most respondents; 75% of the responses were “Strongly Agreed,” and the highest level of agreement occurred with the statements “I would be interested in participating in another research experience” and “I would recommend this program to my colleagues.”  Only two participants checked “disagree” or “neutral” for any statement.5a

To conclude the survey, 2013 RET participants were asked to rate the overall experience, to which 100% indicated it was “Excellent.”  Final qualitative feedback was collected to assess what might be done to further meet teachers’ needs.  Among the suggestions were the following:

  • “More information on how to create the poster or what is expected in the poster.”
  •  “More lab time should be provided. We should have spent time in different labs, more exposure in other labs.”
  • “The only addition I would like to make is that it would help in the lab setting to group teachers at the same levels together.”
  • “More classroom ready modules and activities to use in classroom—participants can provide to each other—activities that would be helpful to others–care and share workshop.”

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