February 1, 2004
During the summer and fall of 2003, Education Development Center's Center for Children and Technology (CCT) undertook a formative evaluation of Seeing Reason: Mindful Mapping of Cause & Effect, an Intel Teach to the Future professional development seminar. Intel's seminars are designed to introduce teachers to software tools that they can use to support their students' inquiry and research projects. This formative evaluation examined a pilot test of this professional development format, which specifically focused on the Intel in Education online causal mapping tool Seeing Reason and resources associated with the tool.
About the Seeing Reason seminar
Seeing Reason: Mindful Mapping of Cause & Effect is the first in a series of planned professional development seminars being developed as "follow up" trainings targeted to Lead Educational Agencies (LEAs) and Master Teachers (MTs) who have already participated in the Intel Teach to the Future program. The seminars use a train-the-trainer model, recruiting MTs from Intel Teach to the Future to participate in the seminars, which they then commit to delivering to ten teachers each in their home school districts. The Seeing Reason seminar curriculum uses many of the same features as the 40-hour Intel Teach to the Future curriculum, such as collaborative exploration of the new software, group discussions, and the creation of lesson plans, to engage teachers with the online causal mapping tool, Seeing Reason.
As described on the Intel Innovation in Education web site, Seeing Reason is "a classroom workspace for investigating cause and effect relationships in complex systems. At the heart of Seeing Reason is an interactive mapping tool that helps students map relationships and construct models of their understanding." Seminars are intended to invite teachers (from upper elementary to high school grades) to learn strategies for using this tool to guide project-based, inquiry-oriented learning experiences for their students, and to develop activities that use this online causal mapping tool to support student investigations of topics that include cause and effect relationships. More broadly, the seminar is intended to be a professional development opportunity that increases teachers' ability to use technology effectively to support student learning. Seminars are six to eight hours long, and delivered by Senior Trainers to MTs, and then by MTs to teachers in their home school districts. Senior Trainers and MTs are experienced facilitators with backgrounds in classroom teaching, school leadership, and effective technology integration.
The Institute for Computer Technology (ICT) and the Intel Corporation prepared the curriculum for the Intel Seeing Reason seminar.
As outlined above, the curriculum focuses on building teachers' understanding of cause and effect relationships, guiding participants through the process of planning their own project, learning how to use the Seeing Reason online tool, creating an assessment plan, and developing and revising an implementation plan. The training also addresses pedagogical and classroom management challenges associated with using the online tool with students.
About this evaluation
The goals of this formative evaluation of the Seeing Reason: Mindful Mapping of Cause & Effect seminar were to gain insight into the following:
- The strengths and weaknesses of this mode of delivery of professional development
- The quality and character of the reception of the seminar by both MTs and seminar participants
- Opportunities for, and barriers to impact on teacher practice and student learning for this seminar and possible future seminars
This report presents findings and recommendations based on data collected between August 2003 and January 2004.