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Idaho State University educational foundations Professor Ruchti serves as National Science Teachers Association online advisor

Posted October 22, 2010

Wendy Ruchti, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics  (STEM) educator and associate lecturer in the Idaho State University Department of Educational Foundations in the College of Education, has been selected as a part of a national competition to serve as an online advisor for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Online Advisor program.

The NSTA online advisor program is funded through a NASA grant.

Ruchti was selected as one of 20 advisors from an applicant pool of more than 100 applicants and recently completing the NSTA training program. The NTSA Online Advising Program seeks to enhance the professional development experience of NSTA Learning Center visitors by having online advisors available to engage site visitors in discussions about science content and pedagogy, creating useful collections of resources, and by assisting in the implementation of science teachers' professional development plans.

According to Ruchti this opportunity fits perfectly with her teaching and research interests.

"One of my research interests is in both the preparation and the professional development of elementary science teachers," Ruchti said. "Teaching is an incredibly time-consuming profession, so making sure that professional development has a clear focus and purpose and is accessible and relevant is important if we want to increase teachers' ability to teach science.  Through working with this program on a national level, I'll be able to collaborate and bring more and better professional development to our local area teachers, both preservice and inservice."

As an online advisor, Dr. Ruchti will answer questions about science content and pedagogy, and questions about using and finding resources within the NSTA Learning Center, a synchronous online system where science teachers can go to find resources, engage in conversation, post questions, and chat live with other science educators. 

As a part of her advisory obligations Dr. Ruchti will also work with other NSTA advisors to enhance the features available within the online learning. "Another of my research interests is in building collaborative online learning environments. While learning needs to be accessible, and is through online resources, the best way for teachers to become better teachers is to be able to discuss and work with one another, "explained Dr. Ruchti, "This can be done in an online environment, if it is intentionally built to be conducive to collaboration.   I'll be helping to build a community of learners using the NSTA online learning center, both through synchronous (chat rooms) and asynchronous (discussion boards) discussion.  This will be available to teachers (both preservice and inservice) who want assistance both in science content and pedagogy."

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Online Advisor program is located online at http://learningcenter.nsta.org