Exemplary Science: Best Practices in Professional Development
by Susan Koba and Brenda Wojnowski

Price at time of review: $29.95
268 pp.
NSTA Press
Arlington, VA
ISBN: 9781936959075

Grade Level: K-12

Reviewed by Steve Canipe
Director, Science, Mathematics & Instructional Design Technology

Thinking of doing professional development but not sure exactly what approach to take? If this is the case, then Exemplary Science: Best Practices in Professional Development might be what you need. In this book of 16 essays, you will find numerous ways to select and conduct professional development discussed.

The essays provide a method to approach professional development as a science; looking at what has worked and what has not in a data–based manner. There are numerous data within the 16 stand–alone essays to provide the practitioner with information for making a determination of which method to employ. These data sets will enable, as the editors opine, the maximum value to be obtained from the limited professional development dollars available. Always a concern in today’s tight budgets.

Depending on what professional development goals are to be covered, the essential questions to be answered, and the methodology that is appropriate, the monographs have something for just about every reader. One of the problems that a reader might encounter is the wide use of numerous acronyms. Since each of the essays is focused on an activity from a particular locale, the acronyms are not universally consistent from essay to essay. As a reader explores the various methodologies, an acronym cheat sheet for each essay would be helpful. Graphic representations of data sets are provided in several of the essays helping the reader get a visual representation of the research–based methodologies. Tabular data are also presented in some of the essays to help the reader decide on the most efficacious method to use.

This book would best be used in a professional development venue where the individual conducting the training might have access to data concerning effectiveness. This would enable the best choice of training format. Being able to explore different methods prior to just “doing it” is certainly a best practice. The topics covered in the book range from learning communities and mentor development to guiding inquiry and 21st Century educational transformation.

There is a rather complete index helping the reader find topics of interest. The essays begin with a “context” section, helping place the method into the surroundings. Reflective questions for the reader and references are found at the end of each essay. These can certainly help in selecting the best method to use in the planned professional development.

Brief biographies of the chapter authors are provided as well as a forward and endword. This is probably not a book that would be of general interest to science teachers but definitely should be considered to be in a professional development library.

Review posted on 2/27/2013

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