The effects of a professional development geoscience education institute upon secondary school science teachers in Puerto Rico

Pablo Antonio Llerandi Roman, Purdue University


The geographic and geologic settings of Puerto Rico served as the context to develop a mixed methods investigation on: (1) the effects of a five-day long constructivist and field-based earth science education professional development institute upon 26 secondary school science teachers' earth science conceptual knowledge, perceptions of fieldwork, and beliefs about teaching earth science; and (2) the implementation of participants' newly acquired knowledge and experience in their science lessons at school. Qualitative data included questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, reflective journals, pre-post concept maps, and pre-post lesson plans. The Geoscience Concept Inventory and the Science Outdoor Learning Environment Inventory were translated into Spanish and culturally validated to collect quantitative data. Data was analyzed through a constructivist grounded theory methodology, descriptive statistics, and non-parametric methods. Participants came to the institute with serious deficiencies in earth science conceptual understanding, negative earth science teaching perspectives, and inadequate earth science teaching methodologies. The institute helped participants to improve their understanding of earth science concepts, content, and processes mostly related to the study of rocks, the Earth's structure, plate tectonics, maps, and the geology of Puerto Rico. Participants also improved their earth science teaching beliefs, perceptions on field-based education, and reflected on their environmental awareness and social responsibility. Participants greatly benefited from the field-based learning environment, inquiry-based teaching approaches modeled, the attention given to their affective domain, and reflections on their teaching practice as part of the institute's activities. The constructivist learning environment and the institute's contextualized and meaningful learning conceptual model were effective in generating interest and confidence in earth science teaching. Some participants successfully integrated inquiry-based lessons on the nature of science and earth science at their schools, but were unsuccessful in integrating field trips. The lack of teacher education programs and the inadequacy of earth science conceptual and pedagogical understanding held by in-service teachers are the main barriers for effective earth science teaching in Puerto Rico. This study established a foundation for future earth science education projects for Latino teachers. Additionally, as a result of this investigation various recommendations were made to effectively implement earth science teacher education programs in Puerto Rico and internationally.




Krockover, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Secondary education|Science education

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