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Evaluation of a Teacher Professional Development Seminar on East Asia and the Asian-American Experience: Implications for Teacher Professional Development in Social Studies


This dissertation reports the findings of a program evaluation study of a high school teacher professional development seminar and discusses the intended uses of its findings. A 35-hour seminar on East Asia and the Asian-American experience was conducted from January through October 2013. The seminar was offered by the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE). Nine social studies teachers and three Chinese language teachers, born and educated (through their undergraduate years) in China, participated in SPICE's seminar.

The two goals of the seminar were: (1) SPICE's seminar increases teachers' content knowledge on East Asia and the Asian-American experience; and (2) SPICE's seminar influences teachers' intention to include content on East Asia and the Asian-American experience in their curriculum. This study assessed whether or not the two goals of SPICE's seminar were met. The seminar included four full-day sessions on China, Japan, Korea, and the Asian-American experience, and a half-day follow-up session during which teachers presented lessons that they developed based on content from the four full-day sessions.

This study utilized mixed-methods research. These methods included pre- and post-tests and relied on a variety of data. These data included observations of the 35-hour seminar, interviews, teachers' reflections, situated descriptions of teaching, teacher-developed lesson plans, and participants' final evaluations of the seminar.

The results of this program evaluation study suggest that goal one was met by all 12 teachers. My analysis showed that teachers' content knowledge on East Asia and the Asian-American experience increased as a result of SPICE's seminar. Teachers reported that they learned specific factual information about East Asia and the Asian-American experience as well as new perspectives. The results suggest that goal two was met by 11 of the 12 teachers. The teachers integrated content from SPICE's seminar into their curriculum at different degrees--ranging from the integration of newly acquired basic subject matter content knowledge and pedagogical strategies to the integration of diverse perspectives and key concepts. Requiring teachers to describe situated descriptions of teaching and to write lessons (based on content from the teacher professional development seminar) helped to ensure that content from SPICE's seminar reached students.

There were five unintended or incidental outcomes. First, many social studies teachers commented on the contributions of the three Chinese teachers to their learning. Second, the novice teachers self-reported increased learning in the area of pedagogical content knowledge. Third, teachers frequently referred to the interactive nature of SPICE's seminar and its contribution to their learning. Fourth, many teachers considered the content being presented in SPICE's seminar through the filter of the Common Core State Standards. Fifth, teachers frequently noted how much they appreciated being treated like professionals and some drew explicit linkages between being treated like professionals and their desire to learn.

The dissertation concludes with comments on the intended uses of the findings. These include suggested ways to incrementally improve SPICE's seminar from 2014 specifically, and inform teacher professional development in the area of social studies broadly.

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