Project: American Museum of Natural Science (AMNH), Seminars On Science (SoS)

Authors: Laura Stokes, Mark St. John, Judy Hirabayashi, Anita Smith

Type: Executive Summary & Report

Publication: March 2007

Results From The Independent Evaluation Of The Seminars On Science – AMNH

Executive Summary (pdf, 2 pages)

Report and Appendices (pdf, 23 pages)


In 1998, the American Museum of Natural Science (AMNH) launched an ambitious effort to create on-line science courses for K-12 educators that would immerse them in exciting science topics and give them access to the Museum’s scientific resources (scientists, research, expeditions, collections, and exhibitions). This project, called Seminars on Science, ultimately yielded 10 graduate-level courses on a range of topics. Inverness Research Associates studied the courses from their inception until 2006. We focused on the following questions:

  • What is the quality and rigor of the science content?
  • What is the nature of the course-taking experience for teachers?
  • To what extent do teachers actually gain access to working scientists and AMNH resources?
  • How well organized and facilitated are the courses?
  • How do the courses benefit teachers as adult learners?
  • How do the courses benefit teachers in their role as educators?
  • To what extent and in what ways can teachers use what they learn in their own teaching?
  • How do teachers believe their students benefit?
  • How do the courses appear to add value to districts’ standards-based science initiatives and professional development programs?

This report summarizes overall findings, using evidence drawn from surveys, interviews, teacher profiles, and independent expert reviews.

Seminars on Science stands out as a new kind of professional development resource for science education. First, the courses place AMNH’s world-class scientists at the center, sharing their knowledge, questions, and investigations with teachers. The courses put AMNH scientists’ cutting edge work in the context of key big ideas in science, including biodiversity and evolution, as well as current social and ethical issues. Also, courses make use of on-line learning technologies to bring the scientific resources of the AMNH to teachers across the nation. Finally, SOS courses aim to inspire teachers as adult learners of science. SOS courses mean to give teachers the experience of learning science as the best route to strengthening their teaching of it.

Intended Audience

American Museum of Natural History, Museums and Informal Science Education Institutions, Directors of Youth Programs, Science and Mathematics Educators, Funders, and general public.


Any and all errors are claimed by the authors of this document, Inverness Research, Inc.

Distribution Policy

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