Research in Science Education

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 915–941 | Cite as

The Role of Scientist Mentors on Teachers’ Perceptions of the Community of Science During a Summer Research Experience

  • Roxanne Hughes
  • Kristen Molyneaux
  • Pat Dixon


This study focuses on the mentor relationships between science teachers and their scientist mentors in a summer Research Experience for Teachers program at a United States national laboratory facility. Using mixed methods, the authors surveyed and interviewed (semi-structured) the eleven participating teachers before and after the program. The authors also observed the teachers with their mentors each week. During these observations, three different types of mentoring relationships were observed. The authors highlight these through case studies of three teachers, each of whom experienced one of the three relationships. These case studies include their pre and post survey and interview data as well as classroom observations following the program. The results show that the mentoring relationship positively influences teachers’ views of scientific inquiry. The participating teachers felt a sense of membership in the science community as a result of the mentoring they received from their scientists and/or other members of their research group (i.e. graduate students, post doctorates). The three cases demonstrate that teachers felt a higher sense of ownership when they were “discovering” information that was new to their scientist or “translating” their work. All three types of mentoring relationships improved teachers’ understanding of scientific inquiry, which can translate into the classroom.


Science teacher Scientific inquiry Scientists as mentors Research experiences Community of Science Case studies 



This study was funded in part by the National Science Foundation Division of Materials Research, DMR 0654118 and by the National Science Foundation DRK-12 (formerly Teacher Professional Continuum Program), Award #ESI-0553769.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.University of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  3. 3.National High Magnetic Field LaboratoryTallahasseeUSA
  4. 4.Center for Integrating Research & LearningNational High Magnetic Field LaboratoryTallahasseeUSA

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