How to cultivate and facilitate science teacher journal clubs through the teacher education curriculum and teacher professional development

1. Focus of the workshop and its relevance to science teacher education.
This workshop intends to introduce science educators to the use of journal clubs as a means for improving the professional practice of pre- and in-service science teachers. Journal clubs can be implemented as part of formal coursework, or via professional development.
The workshop will consist of five parts: an introduction to journal clubs; a mini-journal club meeting; whole group discussion regarding how journal clubs can be implemented in science teacher education; small group discussion exploring how participants might incorporate journal clubs into their own professional practice; and will conclude by offering key takeaways, summarizing participant insights, and evaluating the workshop experience. We will also discuss ways for participants to implement journal clubs in science teacher education. Additionally, we will support this goal by offering video conferencing sessions, and an online discussion forum.
Journal clubs have been used as a tool in the medical (Linzer, 1987) and scientific fields (Clark, Rollins, & Smith, 2014; Newswander & Borrego, 2009) to collaboratively critique research articles, and connect literature to professional practice or research projects. Journal clubs have assisted professionals in learning how to read, critique, and reflect on colleagues peer-reviewed research (Golde, 2007). In a journal club the participants select articles or research literature pertinent to their practice or research. While all the participants read the article, one or two facilitate discussion of the article and relate its pertinence to the work of the participants. Given the benefits of participation in journal clubs and their use in the sciences, one might think their use permeates science teacher education. However, a search of the literature does not support this stance.
Our research suggests knowing how to cultivate and facilitate journal clubs is beneficial to science methods instructors, professional development leaders, curriculum developers, and science education researchers (Bradley & Feldman, 2019; Tallman & Feldman, 2016). We have found journal clubs to be a foundational component of a community of practice (CoP) that helps teachers connect the theory from an article to their practice, and function as a tool for exploring relationships amongst identity, and the teaching and learning of science in high-need classrooms. Moreover, because the context of learning is on the situated knowledge of the practitioner, journal clubs also encourage higher order thinking (Barak & Dori, 2009; Lave, 1991).
Journal clubs can provide teachers with information on how to access, critique, and examine the relevancy of research articles to their teaching practice. These are important skills for teachers who are mindful of the importance of continuing their professional development throughout their career. Engagement in journal clubs during preservice education and/or via inservice professional development can help teachers acquire the competencies necessary for connecting theory to practice, continually developing this mindset through their career, and cultivating collaborative relationships with colleagues.
3. Expertise/experience of the workshop presenters.
Tallman’s doctoral dissertation was on the community, preservice and inservice teachers, created by being in a journal club: A journal club: A scholarly community for preservice and inservice science teachers (Tallman, 2014). She has facilitated journal clubs in a master’s program through a graduate seminar during the teachers’ practicums, as professional development with inservice and preservice science teachers, and as part of a graduate course on contemporary educational issues in teaching. She has also studied the functioning of a medical journal club structured as a CoP. Tallman has presented research on this topic at six conferences, four of those conferences with Feldman as the co-author. (Tallman, 2015, 2017; Tallman & Feldman, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015). Tallman and Feldman published, “The use of journal clubs in science teacher education,” in the Journal of Science Teacher Education in 2016. Tallman and Feldman are also recipients of the 2016 Innovations in Teaching Science Teachers Award from the Association for Science Teacher Education in January of 2016 for their work on journal clubs. Tallman was also an invited presenter at the STEM Ed Institute Tuesday Seminars at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she spoke about “Journal Clubs as a Path to Creating Teacher Communities of Practice.”
Feldman has engaged in teaching and researching action research for over 25 years. He is widely published in the field and is lead author of the 3rd edition of Teachers investigate their work: An introduction to action research across the professions (Feldman, Altrichter, Posch, & Somekh, 2018). He is also co-editor of the journal, Educational Action Research, and was co-editor of a special edition of the Journal of Science Teacher Education that focused on the use of action research in science education (Capobianco & Feldman, 2010). He has been the PI or co-PI of a number of NSF-funded projects that have engaged science teachers in action research.
Bradley is currently a doctoral candidate in science education at the University of South Florida under Feldman’s supervision. He has studied the beliefs expressed, explored, and developed by Noyce scholarship recipients as they participated in a collaborative action research based instructional intervention. The Noyce Community of Practice (CoP) centered on the use of a journal club embedded within a master’s level science education field practicum course. Students engaged with literature and gained understanding relevant to the influence of belief systems on how we construct our identity, perceive the conditions in which it happens, and view ourselves and others as we go through the collective process (Bradley & Feldman, 2019).
4. Learning objectives and assessment
The objectives of this workshop are
1. To make participants aware of the contributions journal clubs can make to preservice science teacher education, and inservice science teacher professional development.
2. To assist science educators in reflecting on their professional practice and identifying areas in need of improvement.
3. To help science educators support science teachers to engage in productive journal club discussions that:
A. Critically appraise literature.
B. Allow participants to derive learning goals from a given research article.
C. Lead to questions that will allow discussion participants to bring the ideas, theories, and practices from the article into their own classrooms.
4. To familiarize participants with the overall process of implementing journal clubs in science teacher education.
Participant learning will be assessed using a five-point Likert scale survey (e.g., strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree), which asks the following questions:
1. I understand the purpose of a journal club.
2. I have a firm understanding in how to help science teachers identify a problem form their teaching situation.
3. I can describe the how a journal club functions.
4. I feel confident helping science teachers know how to:
A. Critically appraise literature.
B. Derive learning goals from a given research article.
C. Develop questions that bring the ideas, theories, and practices from the article into classrooms.
D. Implement journal clubs at all levels of science instruction.
5. I understand how to facilitate science teachers in a journal club
6. I have a firm plan for how I am going to introduce what I have learned from this
workshop into my work.
Finally, the assessment survey will also include the following open-ended item to better assist us supporting workshop participants in the future:
7. I would like assistance throughout the spring to help me implement a journal club
8. Please provide us details of the type of support that would most assist you in setting up a journal club.
In addition to this post survey, we will also assess the long-term impact of the workshop by emailing a follow-up survey to participants four to six months after our conference session. It will inquire as to how workshop participants have applied the knowledge constructed during our session to their work, and what impact their participation in this endeavor has had on their work with pre- and in-service science teachers.
5. Description of the workshop activities
Our workshop activities will be divided into five main parts:
1. We provide participants with the background information including the history and nature of journal clubs, and will review how we have used journal clubs in both teaching and research environments.
2. We model a mini journal club meeting by introducing a research paper. We will utilize a PowerPoint presentation to explain the context and the problem that led us to choose the paper for our mini-journal club, and highlight all the key aspects of a journal club presentation. This will entail: detailing purpose, methods, and results of our chosen research article; and asking critical questions, which will guide participants as they relate the research article to aspects of their practice. Throughout we will demonstrate how focused questioning, can be incorporated into the participant’s own teaching practice, and allow them to gain a sense of the journal club process.
3. We explicitly focus on how to set-up and facilitate a journal club in a variety of settings for science teachers. This will include a discussion regarding ways to assist pre- and in-service teachers in brainstorming problems of practice, and searching for research articles that will allow them to examine these problems within the context of the journal club. To support understanding in these areas we will utilize a list of journal club literature we have used during our own experiences, and will present some essential elements to include in the set-up of a journal club that will help foster a CoP. This portion of the workshop will conclude with us discussing some of the successes and failures we have encountered while implementing journal clubs with pre- and in-service science teachers.
4. We will then divide into small groups, where participants will be asked to brainstorm ways to incorporate journal clubs into their teaching or professional development and identify some potential issues they anticipate in their attempt to implement journal clubs in their work with pre- and in-service science teachers. New knowledge and understandings from this small group work, will then be shared in whole group discussion.
5. The workshop will wrap-up by addressing important tips and takeaways for implementing journal clubs in science teacher education. During this time we will ask participants to complete the survey described earlier in this proposal.
6. Support for participants after the workshop
We recognize how difficult it can be to make changes to one’s practice as a science teacher educator, and will provide participants with ongoing support to assist in the process. This will consist of multiple video conferencing sessions, as well as an online discussion forum. Each of these formats will be utilized during the spring 2020 semester, and are intended to continue our conversation, and promote a professional support network. Participants will also be encouraged to contact personally via email in order to seek our advice and otherwise continue the conversation surrounding the use of journal clubs in the field of science teaching and learning.