North Dakota State University (NDSU) has conducted a National Science Foundation sponsored “Research Experiences for Teachers” (RET) grant over the past three years. Focused on Precision Agriculture and Sustainability, the six week summer experience engages middle and high school mathematics, science, and technology education teachers in authentic projects through the mechanical engineering and the electrical and computer engineering departments. By participating in the program, teachers develop a practical understanding of the engineering design process as it relates to research principles and authentic applications. Teachers build capacity to increase student engagement by also participating in professional learning sessions on effective pedagogy, active classroom environments, and student-centered learning strategies. A unique aspect of this program is the focus on the rural teacher, selecting participants who were the only math, science, or technology education teacher in their school building. In addition, pre-service teachers were paired with an in-service teacher in NDSU’s mathematics education or science education program. This provides a valuable collaborative experience for both the in-service and pre-service teachers. Having completed the third summer of the program, results of data analysis show the program has been highly effective in transforming the teachers’ approach to classroom practices that increase student engagement. Results also demonstrate a positive impact on the pre- and in-service teacher’s shift in attitude towards general classroom practices and teaching pedagogy. This paper describes the program goals and outcomes, specifics of the summer experience, data collection, results, and the next steps for research and practice.
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