Web-based program helps teachers
By Dana Fair / News and Information Services
A new Web-based learning environment developed by a U-M professor
is designed to help elementary school teachers improve their science
and teaching skills by providing them with flexible models they
can adapt to their experiences and teaching styles.
Elementary teachers typically need to teach several subjects
each day, and often have minimal coursework in science, says
Elizabeth Davis, an assistant professor in the U-M School of Education
who developed the Curriculum Access System for Elementary Science
(CASES). The CASES environment helps them develop their scientific
During a White House ceremony July 12, President Bush recognized
Davis for her work in developing CASES. Davis received the Presidential
Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE)the
highest honor the U.S. government gives to young scientists.
The CASES program will have the greatest benefit for pre-service
and new elementary teachers, but the program also allows elementary
students to grasp scientific concepts in ways that are easier to
understand. The program helps new teachers anticipate kids
ideas about science concepts like light, ecosystems and the water
It also allows researchers to assess the environment in which
teachers are working and to design special methods for teachers.
Users of CASES provide background information when they register
to use the program. Their use of CASES is logged automatically so
that researchers can identify how specific features are used. The
teachers are observed and interviewed.
Researchers explore four study areas: understanding how new teachers
learn and teach; addressing specific CASES features and how they
affect the way teachers learn; assessing how new teachers learn
from other teachers; and understanding how teachers work and
lives affect their learning.