Analysis of a Twitter Feed Community of Practicing K-8 Reform-Minded Science Teachers

Susan P Unger, University of Rhode Island

Abstract

Authors of Next Generation Science Standards suggest that to improve student learning in science, there should be an emphasis on “figuring out” science ideas rather than “learning about” science content. Teachers may likely need support in their attempt to implement these standards. Moreover, changes in pedagogy and classroom culture that facilitate implementation of NGSS could challenge science teachers’ identities. Research shows that professional development should be contextually based, sustained, and relevant. Recently, online platforms of professional development (PD) have emerged with affordances that can accommodate many of the aspects of effective PD. Twitter has been shown to be an effective vehicle for professional development for teachers. This study analyzes the tweets and retweets of K-8 practicing science teachers in a Twitter feed community (@gemsnet10). The Twitter community is an offshoot of an established University-districts partnership (GEMS-Net) for the support of science teachers in their implementation of FOSS kit-based science curriculum. Data analysis explores themes, frequencies, and patterns of tweets and retweets using NVIVO qualitative software over five years of data. Individual profiles from users’ survey results illuminate the value of participation in @gemsnet10 for science teachers who were also members of GEMS-Net. Results suggest that sharing codes prevail, and a possible connection to Gee’s theory of affinity identity (2000) was discussed as a theoretical underpinning of this phenomenon. Codes also emerge that reflect (a) teachers’ attempts at implementation of one or more of the dimensions of NGSS, and (b) pedagogical methods of teaching in general and science teaching in particular. Findings support the possible use of a Twitter feed as a venue to provide sustained and relevant PD for teachers in times of reform that strengthen science teacher identity, model pedagogical knowledge, and support implementation of NGSS. Members of the @gemsnet10 Twitter feed community used it most as a vehicle to acknowledge others, tweet about Science and Engineering practices (SEP), and share resources. The Twitter feed community in the present study is named as a Semiotic Identity Space (SIS), similar to Gee’s Semiotic Social Space (SSS), but with important differences.

Subject Area

Elementary education|Science education|Web Studies|Educational leadership

Recommended Citation

Susan P Unger, "Analysis of a Twitter Feed Community of Practicing K-8 Reform-Minded Science Teachers" (2019). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI22624149.
https://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dissertations/AAI22624149

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