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Unexpected Outcomes: Impacting Higher Education Teaching Practice via High School Outreach


"Funding agencies and the science education community at large have pursued strategies for increasing K-12 outreach by scientists and for improving instructional practices in higher education classrooms. However, the simultaneous achievement of both goals is generally not a target for single projects or even single programs. A 4-year project directed by the American Society of Human Genetics from 2007 to 2010 and funded by the National Science Foundation established a network of 70 geneticist-teacher partnerships, each of which developed and implemented genetics lessons for high school students over the course of a full year. Partnerships were supported through a variety of mechanisms that emphasized pedagogy, such as inquiry and formative assessment, and content, particularly misconceptions in genetics. The explicit goals of the project focused on helping geneticists and high school science teachers to form productive outreach partnerships and on developing infrastructure that supported geneticists' engagement in meaningful education outreach as a worthwhile professional activity. However, as the results presented here indicate, this K-12 outreach project had the unintended and beneficial consequence of motivating instructional change by faculty in higher education."