The number of business research papers that you will be required to write in college or the university depends on the course you are taking. Nevertheless, business research papers are rich in topics that you might need some tools to help you with in writing one.
An average of 30 to 45 research papers are required to be written by students in the duration of their stay in college or the university, as studies show. You will be provided various topics to write about including topics on business. Business, in itself, is rich in research topics such as workplace diversity, business ethics, small business strategies, and franchising among others.
Writing a research paper is already hard as it is; imagine writing about a topic that you are not familiar with. In these cases, you might require the help of various tools to help you create a good business research paper.
Things you'll need
- Some tools that can help you write a good business research paper include:
- • Research tools;
- • Evaluation and preparation tools;
- • Writing tools; and
- • Editing tools.
As the name would imply, research is the most important part of any research paper. Even more taxing than writing the paper itself, research will eat up a majority of your time and effort, and rightly so. The results of your research will serve as the foundation of your paper and are, therefore, crucial that you do it in the most effective and efficient way.
There is no tool that will do the research for you but the good thing is that there are tools that can help you save time and effort.
- World digital library – a library where anyone, anywhere can access significant primary materials from all countries and cultures in various languages through the Internet for free;
- ipl2 – is a collection of resources from the Internet Public Library and the Librarians’ Internet Index websites; and
- Evernote – is a free cross-platform application where users can take notes, organize, and archive data and information.
Evaluation and preparation tools
Writing a research paper obviously, does not end after gathering and collecting data. Once you have both your primary and secondary resources you have to evaluate them accordingly to whether they are relevant and necessary to the paper or if they are dispensable. The reason for this is to limit the scope of your research paper and not to stray away from the topic.
To do this, you have to sort all the resources you have gathered first to make the review process a lot more efficient. Make an inventory of all your primary and secondary resources and then you can take it from there.
- Mendeley – is a free reference manager and an academic social network where users can manage their research, showcase their work, and connect and collaborate with over five million other researchers around the globe; and
- Dropbox – is a secure file sharing and storage solution.
Once you are done with resourcing, evaluating, and preparing, you are now ready to write your business research paper. For those who are adept at writing, this should not be any problem. However, not all students are good at writing and would need to employ the help of anyone or anything such as this web site to finish the task.
Even though you have good writing skills, you will still need the help of some tools to write your research paper like Microsoft Office.
- Thesaurus – The MS Word has its own built-in thesaurus but should you use any other tool for writing, you can always check the Thesaurus to make your business research paper sound more impressive and academic.
A research paper is not finished after the first draft. Drafts must always be subject to editing and proofreading to ensure that the research paper is both well-researched and well-written. Proofreading is usually done first to ensure that the paper is not only comprehensive but also cohesive. It is followed by editing to ensure that the paper is free of any grammar and spelling error.
There is a lot of editing tools you can find online which are free and reliable. Of course, you can always ask the help of your family members and friends as well.
- Grammarly – is an editing tool that is available online which checks the text for any grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style error; and
- Reverso – is a free online translator and spell checker.
- grammar checker - is a free online grammar check tool. Use spell check, grammar check, and find contextual mistakes in sentences for 28 different languages.
Research paper writing and in this case business research paper is difficult but you do not have to go through it without the help of tools that are accessible and even free for you. Of course, you also have to consider that there are other things you have to do aside from this research paper. In which case, you have to be smart and efficient about it. Being smart also means that you can avoid all those steps written above and take help from an online paper writing service.
Major Points in Chapter 6
The Bayer Corporation’s Making Science Make Sense program supports outreach to teachers and other activities designed to foster a well-educated workforce and a scientifically literate public.
The Achieving Student Success Through Excellence in Teaching program provides high-quality teaching materials and professional development for elementary school and middle school teachers throughout Pennsylvania.
The American Chemical Society sponsors several programs for high school chemistry teachers and can have a substantial influence on high school chemistry through its affiliates, local sections, and clubs.
The Hach Scientific Foundation offers scholarships for chemistry majors and for people working in chemistry-related fields who intend to become chemistry teachers, and it supports training programs for current teachers.
The grants program of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute emphasizes evaluations of the education programs it supports and wide dissemination of the results of assessments and of information about successful programs.
Surveys and interviews conducted with representatives of 37 foundations active in science education found that foundations support a broad range of activities but, with several important exceptions, have gathered few data about the effectiveness of the programs they fund.
THE BAYER CORPORATION
Since the 1960s, scientists, engineers, and other employees of the Bayer Corporation have been volunteering in local schools to enhance science education. Most of these efforts were ad hoc, said Bayer’s Bridget McCourt, until 1995, when all of the company’s educational efforts were brought together to form the Making Science Make Sense program. “It is our premier corporate social responsibility program here in the United States,” said McCourt. It is designed “to help teachers teach and to help students learn the way that scientists do.”
The program, which has been recognized by several national awards, extends from preschool to graduate school and beyond and addresses two populations of students. First, it seeks to prepare a well-educated workforce that can fill high-level jobs, including jobs in scientific and engineering research. Second, it is directed toward producing a scientifically literate public so that Bayer can be a successful business. “When we’re either establishing a new site in the community or having a crisis in the community, we need [the public] to be based in science. . . . We need them to have a basic understanding of chemistry, biology, physics, and other science fields so that they’re . . . educated voter[s] and neighbor[s].”
Science education is particularly well suited to fostering the kinds of skill people need in today’s world, said McCourt. It teaches creative thinking, critical thinking, team building, and adapting to change. Science education “is not just about educating the next generation of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. It’s about equipping students with the skills that they’ll need in whatever job they go into.”
Making Science Make Sense has three components. The first is systematic science education reform. Schools need help to move beyond traditional teaching approaches toward inquiry-based learning. For that reason, Bayer projects support the national science education standards and incorporate substantial professional development for teachers. For many classrooms, McCourt observed, inquiry-based learning involves a “complete shift” in the way teachers are teaching and the way students are learning.
The second component of the program is public education and outreach. Led by former astronaut Mae Jemison, this component of the program has featured a variety of partnerships on both the national and the local levels. Through these partnerships, Bayer has been able to learn where the company’s efforts are needed and how those efforts can help. For example, a partnership with the American Chemical Society has led to efforts to address teacher development and diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This partnership resulted in a recent set of three-day workshops on green chemistry for high school teachers. It also created new internships in Texas that give disadvantaged students an opportunity to experience chemistry careers through hands-on summer internships. In addition, a partnership with the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh has led to a program in which high school students are trained and employed to do scientific experiments and field trips both during the school year and during the summer with small groups of elementary students. Since its inception in 2000, this program has been reaching about 250 elementary school students per week during the school year and nearly 1,000 students on average in the summer, and each of the high school students who has participated in the program has gone on to college, often as the first person from his or her family to do so.
The third component of the program is based on employee volunteerism. As has been the case throughout Bayer’s involvement with education, volunteers continue to work with individual students, teachers, and schools to bring meaningful and enjoyable scientific experiences into the classroom. Together, the three components of Making Science Make Sense “form a comprehensive and integrated program that is driving results and impacting lives.”
As Bayer has expanded into new communities, it has brought the program to new places. Branches of Bayer outside the United States also have been instituting versions of the program in their home countries, including Japan, Colombia, Italy, India, and the United Kingdom. In addition, Bayer has encouraged the involvement of other corporations in educational initiatives, in part by sponsoring forums on science education. A 2006 forum on educational diversity held in Washington, DC, for example, attracted more than 150 STEM industry and organization representatives, federal and state government officials, and others in the nonprofit and science education fields.
As with many of the other programs discussed at the workshop, assessment of the Making Science Make Sense program is difficult, McCourt acknowledged. The company requires projects supported through the program to perform assessments and provide the company with progress reports. Bayer also has supported efforts to assess the state of science education in the United States, including an annual survey on STEM programs, policies, and practices.
“All of corporate America has a role to play in improving science education and science literacy across the country,” said McCourt. “We believe that Making Science Make Sense is an effective program for our corporation, and we are committed to continuing the program in the years to come.”
During the question-and-answer session, Ken White from Brookhaven pointed out that if studies demonstrate the value of programs such as Making Science Make Sense, other companies might be influenced to initiate and participate in outreach efforts. McCourt responded that the initial success of a program can drive future successes, especially when volunteers come back into the workplace and describe their accomplishments to others. However, she also noted that one challenge she faces is to maintain the continuity of the volunteer effort over time. Half of the Bayer workforce has joined the company just in the past five years. “I have to continually reorient people to the program, introduce them to it, explain to them what it is,” she said. A great advantage at Bayer is that the leadership of the company supports the program and encourages employees to participate. “It’s not seen as a detraction from their position but rather as an addition to their role in the company.”
ASSET: ACHIEVING STUDENT SUCCESS THROUGH EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
One program that the Bayer Corporation has supported, along with other funders, is Achieving Student Success Through Excellence in Teaching (ASSET). It was created in Pennsylvania in 1994 as an independent, nonprofit, educational reform initiative dedicated to continuously improving the abilities of teachers and the performance of students. Its vision is to be a leader in developing and implementing effective, innovative programs, products, and practices that align teaching to learning. It is focused on kindergarten through eighth grade, which is essential to establish “a strong foundation for you at the high school level,” said its executive director Reeny Davison. ASSET has become “the leading science education organization in classrooms throughout Pennsylvania.”
The hypothesis behind the program is that high-quality materials and high-quality professional development will produce more effective teachers and better-performing students. It has employed standards-based curriculum materials, centralized materials support, assessment, and involvement of the administration and communities to create a national model for effective science education reform. The program has drawn heavily on materials and methods developed by the National Science Resources Center, which is a joint project of the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academies. The program also uses materials from other sources, such as the Full Option Science System from the Lawrence Hall of Science. “As a nonprofit, we are free to become what teachers need us to be. If teachers don’t need us, we will go out of business.”
ASSET’s Materials Support Center purchases standards-based materials and stores, cleans, refurbishes, and distributes those materials, in some cases with hands-on assistance from its corporate sponsors. Schools choose the kits they want to use, which range across the earth, life, and physical sciences as well as technology and engineering. “Like a good business, we give our districts choices,” said Davison. “We don’t tell them what they have to order. They order what’s right for their curriculum and for their teachers.”
ASSET also supports professional development in the form of teachers’ teaching teachers. “When you have another teacher standing in front of you, there is instant credibility, because they can say that when I did this I found that this trick helped.”
In 2001 the program transitioned to a fee-for-service organization, which required that it continually develop new products and services for teachers, in part through partnerships with private organizations. In 2006 the State of Pennsylvania launched the “It’s Elementary” initiative and arranged with ASSET to expand its program throughout the state. “No one in the Pennsylvania Department of Education or the Governor’s Office designed the program,” said Davison. “We got to design it, coordinate it, and implement it according to the things that we have learned in the last 10 years.” ASSET would like to become a professional development center that teachers can rely on in a standards-based environment.
ASSET is currently serving 164 school districts, 6,392 teachers, and slightly more than 180,000 students. Teachers engage in multiday workshops over more than one year, usually focusing on one curriculum module each year.
The program has contracted with Horizon Research, Inc., to do evaluation research, including comparing student scores with the amount of professional development teachers have undertaken. The results show that students whose teachers participated in three days of professional development scored significantly higher than students of teachers who participated in two days or less. Furthermore, student achievement was greater the second time the teachers implemented a module to which they had been exposed during an ASSET workshop.
Davison called for cooperation among programs to address the full range of problems facing teachers and students. “There can’t be too many of us,” she said. “The time for competition is over. It is all about collaboration.”
THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY
Mary Kirchhoff of the American Chemical Society (ACS) briefly described some of the activities undertaken by ACS to improve high school chemistry education. ACS conducts a number of summer workshops, including a three-day residential workshop on green chemistry (partially sponsored by the Bayer Corporation) and a five-day workshop on bringing chemistry into the community. “One of the things that struck me throughout the workshops is how much the teachers appreciate the opportunity to talk with each other,” Kirchhoff said. Teachers from different kinds of schools were able to describe both the particular challenges they faced and the issues common to all teachers.
Other ACS activities provide training for teachers of advanced placement (AP) and international baccalaureate courses in chemistry and offer workshops for middle school science teachers and their supervisors. A new edition of the book Chemistry in the National Science Education Standards addresses standards and provides models for meaningful learning in high school chemistry classrooms.1
The ACS has looked periodically at the idea of forming a stand-alone high school chemistry teachers association. Although the idea has not gained traction in the past, said Kirchhoff, she planned to bring it up again with the society’s Committee on Education. “Out of 160,000 members of the ACS, only a couple of thousand are high school chemistry teachers. Clearly, they are not finding the value that we could be providing to them.”
ACS has large networks of members, local sections, student affiliates, and high school chemistry clubs, all of which can have an influence on high school chemistry education. Where resources are not available in a particular school or district, the ACS can step in and provide a service directly or foster a partnership that could meet the needs that exist.
The ACS also has been working with organizations in higher education such as the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges to improve chemistry education, including the education of undergraduates who become chemistry teachers.
THE HACH SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATION2
Clifford Hach was a chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project in the 1940s and started the Hach Company, which was an analysis, instrumentation, and water chemistry firm. Located originally in a one-room building in Ames, Iowa, the company grew and moved to Colorado in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, it formed the Hach Scientific Foundation to provide scholarships to future chemists. The foundation became fully funded when Hach died and the company was sold.
Several years ago, Clifford Hach’s grandson Bryce Hach, who is executive director of the foundation, decided to drive to each of the scholarship recipients and ask them why they chose to study chemistry. “I was a biology major myself, and I wasn’t the greatest chemistry student in the world. I thought chemistry was really hard, so I was curious,” Hach said. “At least 90 percent of them said that the number one influence that led them into chemistry was a really good high school chemistry teacher.” That led Hach to give greater consideration to the importance of these teachers. Only about a quarter of high school chemistry teachers have a degree in chemistry, Hach said, and less than half of them minor in the subject. Motivated by these observations, the foundation decided to broaden its involvement in chemistry education.
In the 2007–2008 academic year, the foundation began offering scholarships to chemistry majors who plan to go into teaching. At least two $6,000 scholarships are provided at each of the land grant universities in the country, which ensures that the program will have a national reach. The scholarships are available for undergraduates at any level, including undergraduates who want to spend extra time in a university to take education classes. The foundation wantsto reach students who are thinking about going into research, industry, the pharmaceutical industry, medical school, or other destinations and get them thinking about teaching. It wants to “create teachers where there otherwise weren’t any.”
In addition, the foundation has created a second-career chemistry teacher scholarship program for people who have worked in a chemistry-related field and are looking to go into teaching. This $6,000 scholarship can be used at any college or university in the country as long as the student has been accepted into a program to work toward a master’s in education. A $3,000 scholarship is offered for part-time students who continue to work or support a family. “We’ve had scholars ranging from their early 20s to their early 60s,” said Hach.
With just three full-time staff members, the foundation provides universities with the criteria for the chemistry major scholarship, and the universities administer the scholarships, usually through the chemistry department. The foundation chooses the second-career scholars itself, with advertisements in chemistry publications to inform potential recipients about the program.
The foundation also has decided to provide in-service support to chemistry teachers, so it has begun a program to offer a $1,500 grant to any chemistry teacher who would like to improve his or her teaching skills. A one-page application on the foundation’s Web site (http://www.hachscientificfoundation.org/home.shtml) asks how teachers are going to use the funds and how the impact of the funding will be measured. “We want to make the application process as simple as we can,” said Hach. Later, teachers write a one-paragraph summary of how the grant was used that is posted, by state, on the Web site.
With very little advertising, the foundation received more than 200 applications in the first two-and-a-half months of the program and was able to grant 178 requests in more than 40 states. The program “was far more exciting and far more involved than we ever thought it would be, and we’re really glad to continue the program. Certainly it shows that there’s a lot of untapped potential here.”
In northern Colorado, the foundation runs a program to bring together almost all of the chemistry teachers in four local school districts to engage in workshops organized around the Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning, or POGIL, approach. The program begins with a three-day workshop, followed by subsequent one-day and two-day workshops. The foundation pays for substitutes while teachers attend the workshops. POGIL “transforms the chemistry class from a passive learning environment to an active one,” said Hach. “Students have to teach each other. They work in small groups. They’re doing real research. They have to take the onus of education on themselves.”
Two chemistry education Ph.D. students are doing their dissertations on the impacts of these workshops on learning. Initial assessments have demonstrated a 15 to 20 percent increase in the grades of students whose teachers have participated in workshops and a 15 to 20 percent increase in students’ going on to higher levels of chemistry. “The results from this program will be available on our Web site as soon as they’re formally released,” said Hach. “Everything is going to be transparent to the public.”
THE HOWARD HUGHES MEDICAL INSTITUTE
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is primarily a biomedical research organization, funding more than 300 scientists and their associates in research laboratories across the United States. However, HHMI also has a grants program that supports precollege science education, along with undergraduate and graduate education and research. In the most recent precollege competition in 2007, $22.5 million in grants were awarded over five years to 31 institutions to engage in educational outreach.
HHMI has learned a number of valuable lessons since the grants program was initiated in 1987, according to HHMI’s Patricia Soochan. The first is to assume nothing and assess everything. Assessments should be done early, often, and comprehensively and should be quantitative as well as qualitative. “Assessment should be used to adjust the program as necessary and make sure the grantee is on the right track,” said Soochan, “not . . . wait to the end to show the foundation that the grant has worked.”
HHMI also emphasizes dissemination, both of the results of assessments and of successful programs. Networking with others helps to ensure that useful models are replicated and mistakes are avoided. Publishing the results of assessments helps to disseminate results widely.
From 1988 to 2008, HHMI’s grants to undergraduate institutions totaled $767 million, and 22 percent of that amount—about $170 million—went to precollege and other outreach activities. Those grants have served about 85,000 teachers from preschool to high school in programs lasting more than two weeks, with many more served in shorter programs. The precollege programs are very heterogeneous, said Soochan. Most focus on biology, but some focus on chemistry, physics, and other areas of science. They range from 10-week summer research experiences to workshops that meet periodically during the school year. Among the features characterizing successful programs have been involving teachers in the early stages of program conception and development, treating teachers as partners, incorporating educational standards, using master teachers, providing continued resources such as undergraduate teaching assistants and equipment libraries, encouraging networking, providing subsequent experiences, and including support for evaluation.
Soochan described two examples. A grant to Emory University supported teams of middle and high school science teachers, graduate students, and undergraduates on a year-long project to create model inquiry-based curriculum materials that are aligned with the Georgia and national standards. From 2003 to 2007, teams that included 48 teachers implemented 166 new units in 150 classes of more than 4,000 students. Evaluation of the program included surveys of teachers, audits of lesson plans, measures of student performance, reviews of student portfolios, comparison of college entry rates, and focus groups. “In science education we have learned that an arsenal [of assessment strategies] is really what’s needed. . . . Assessment has to be very creative, and you have to be willing to do many different types.”
The other program she described was at Occidental College, which had the goal of improving high school biology and chemistry students’ laboratory instruction by enhancing their teachers’ knowledge and classroom application of modern instruments, techniques, and experiments. The program consisted of 13 experiments developed and tested in classrooms by a steering committee of about a dozen high school teachers and five college staff members. The experiments, which conformed to the science framework for California public schools, employed a biochemical focus to enhance and bridge the biology and chemistry curricula. Each teacher who participated in the program attended a two-week summer institute focused on the details of the experiments. Activities reflected the background of the experiments and instruments, hands-on practice with the experiments using both inquiry-based and traditional instructional models, and pedagogical discussions of how to incorporate the experiments into the curriculum at different levels.
The program also used high school students selected by their teachers from the previous year’s classes and trained to operate the specialized instruments and equipment. The students then assisted in the classroom during the labs. Participating teachers generally used a specific experiment with three to five classes, with many teachers using it for all of their classes. From 1992 to 1995, teachers conducted more than 38,000 student experiments. The experiments also were adapted to a wide variety of other settings, ranging from AP classes to other science classes.
A statistical analysis of the responses on student questionnaires suggested a significant positive change in students’ attitudes toward science and toward the equipment.3 A survey of teaching assistants indicated that their involvement increased their interest in majoring in science as undergraduates and their interest in a science teaching career. Furthermore, survey results strongly suggested that teachers experienced significant growth in their knowledge of biology and chemistry concepts and the use and theory of the instrumentation underlying the experiments. The positive impact of the program on teacher content knowledge and classroom activities was strongly substantiated by the direct observations of the program’s outside evaluator.
WHAT ARE FOUNDATIONS DOING?
Given that foundations support a wide variety of education reform efforts, Sandra Laursen and Heather Thiry at the University of Colorado at Boulder, with support from the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation, set out to learn more about the outlooks and practices of foundations. Their approach was to ask foundations that support activities in secondary chemistry education a series of questions: What do you do? What evidence do you have about how it works? What do you conclude from the evidence? How does the evidence shape your practice?
First they analyzed the Web sites and available publications of 37 foundations identified as key players in science education. Then they conducted surveys and in-depth interviews with 16 selected foundations. They divided the activities supported by foundations into five broad categories (Figure 6.1). In the first category—direct support for students—they placed scholarships and competitions. Examples include competitions “that have students inventing things or solving problems,” said Laursen, who summarized the study’s findings at the workshop, or scholarships “for high school students to do summer research or to have some kind of extra learning experiences.”
The percentage of foundations engaged in supporting secondary science education was highest for informal science and lowest for activities focused specifically on students in classrooms. SOURCE: Laursen, S., & Thiry, H. (2008, January). What Do(more...)
The second category—classroom support—includes programs directed at teachers or individual classrooms, such as grants for equipment, programs to develop curricula, or professional development for teachers. The third category—informal education—includes all activities beyond the K-12 educational system, such as support for museums, science centers, summer camps, and after-school programs.
Support for K-12 systems, the fourth category, can go to schools, to districts, to partnerships, or for policy development and implementation. Also, a fifth miscellaneous category includes activities such as employee volunteerism, special events, and projects such as film or web projects.
The researchers attempted to attach dollar amounts to these activities, but the range of programs and activities made this impossible, especially given that education accounts for about 25 percent of all philanthropic giving. Nevertheless, by establishing these categories, the study sought to examine activities that the foundations deemed important. “Our idea was to look at these activities as a way of saying, What do people think works?”
From the broad analysis of 37 foundations, Laursen and Thiry discovered that corporate foundations tended to support different activities than private foundations. Corporations tended to fund student scholarships and competitions and small classroom grants to entrepreneurial teachers. They also tended to target their home communities. Private foundations were more likely to engage with districts, systems, or policy. Both supported teacher professional development, which they see as a high-leverage strategy.
Informal education was popular with both types of foundations, partly because it did not directly involve school systems. “You don’t have to deal with all that bureaucracy, all those state standards, and all those rules,” said Laursen. “They see K-12 systems as difficult, as too big a ship to turn.” Informal education is also a way to inspire and motivate students and build their interest in science. It is difficult to measure the impacts of these activities, but “I think we all believe and have seen examples in our own lives about how that works.”
Laursen and Thiry hoped that, in their interviews with foundation representatives, they would uncover stores of data about the effectiveness of programs that had not been analyzed. This turned out not to be the case. “They are busy. They are on the road. These people . . . are doing a lot of good things. [But] that mine of data doesn’t for the most part exist.”
On the contrary, the researchers found that fairly few data are collected and that the sources of information are mainly grantees’ reports and site visits. Most of the information is about the populations served and the activities conducted, with uneven internal evaluation and little external evaluation. Most foundations know what happens to whom, but they know little about whether, how, or why it works. However, said Laursen, the researchers talked with very insightful program officers and found very interesting initiatives under way.
From these interviews, the researchers culled a number of “best practices” in grant making. These practices are “experienced people’s advice, but not necessarily evidence-based advice,” said Laursen. “They have gone out and have seen things and have watched things and have paid attention to similarities and differences. They don’t necessarily have data in hand.”
In setting directions, foundations should draw on the research literature, on national reports, and on observed trends. They should seek to have an impact through either breadth or depth. “They are making strategic choices. Do we spread our resources over a wider area and go for impact by having lots of people participate, or do we go for depth in a smaller area or a smaller targeted project?” Foundations also are evaluating their own work to set future directions. The data drive them in directions that they might not have considered before.
General elements of strong project design include building stakeholder support, beginning with a needs assessment, using the research literature, involving scientists and engineers, and addressing sustainability up front. “What happens when the foundation money ends?” Foundation officers were interested in seeing plans that had a longer-term vision of how to keep programs going once funding is gone.
Best practices in teacher professional development include aligning content with the curricula teachers are using in class, aligning with state and national science standards, strengthening teachers’ content knowledge while linking to pedagogy, incorporating follow-up in professional development, providing time to reflect and network, and modeling and discussing effective teaching and learning methods. Evaluating teacher professional development is not straightforward, Laursen observed, partly because the desired effects are far downstream, but evaluation efforts are necessary.
Laursen and Thiry found several intriguing examples of foundations that were trying to improve their evaluation practices. Accountability ensures that foundations can learn from the activities they support. “As one foundation officer said, in the end the board is going to look at you and say, ‘Well, what happened?’” Sometimes knowledge can be generalized from one program across a range of programs so that general principles can be distilled. Having some sense of the impact of a program can be motivating for funders and practitioners and can engage each in further activity. As Laursen pointed out, other researchers have speculated that the use of good evaluation could multiply the payoffs from foundation resources at least severalfold.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has established an entire evaluation office and has set up metrics for the schools it is supporting. This may not be a realistic strategy for smaller foundations, but these organizations may be able to use common and shared evaluation tools. For example, the Noyce Foundation is compiling the surveys, interviews, and other methods that are publicly available to study the impact on students from informal science education experiences. Once these instruments have been identified, gaps can be located and tools can be supplied to grantees for use in evaluating projects. In contrast, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund is developing the capacity of its grantees to evaluate their own work. The fund has an evaluation team that leads workshop, does consultations, and coaches grantees on how to identify goals, measure progress toward those goals, analyze data, and draw broad conclusions across projects. The evaluation work is supported by a tax of about 1 percent on each of the grantees. “Across all of their grants, this adds up to enough money to fund this kind of effort.”
Laursen also cited a tool developed by her colleagues Elaine Seymour and Tim Weston called Student Assessment of Their Learning Goals (SALG). It is a publicly accessible assessment tool that faculty can use to ask students what they gained from a course and what aspects of a course helped them learn. It is online and free, with core questions and optional additions, at http://www.salgsite.org. The instrument has about 12,000 users so far who have customized their versions. A similar instrument, also available on the SALG Web site, is the Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment (URSSA), which is a research-based technique for assessing what students get from doing undergraduate research.
Chemists need to apply evidence-based methods in their education work as well as their science, Laursen concluded. They need better evidence about what works to shape the design and implementation of projects, to guide the choices of projects to fund, and to learn from their own and other’s mistakes and successes. They need to think about their objectives and how to measure progress toward those objectives at the beginning of a project, not at the end. Funders and program developers alike have an interest in sharing processes and tools for evaluating the outcomes of educational outreach efforts.
In the question-and-answer session, Tom Keller of the National Academies’ Board on Science Education noted that the National Science Foundation has just released a framework for informal science education. It is a good starting point for anyone interested in evaluating such programs, he said.
S. L. Bretz, ed. 2007. Chemistry in the National Science Education Standards, Second edition. Washington, DC: American Chemical Society.
In January 2009, the Hach Foundation announced that it plans to transfer the foundation’s funds and assets to the American Chemical Society (ACS) to administer the grants described in this section. For more information see: Raber, L. 2009. Philanthropy: ACS Receives Hach Funds. Chemical and Engineering News 87(4):7.
C. Craney, A. Mazzeo, and K. Lord. 1996. A high school-collegiate outreach program in chemistry and biology delivering modern technology in a mobile van. Journal of Chemical Education 73(7):646–650.