The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) has launched a new line of professional development courses – Professional Learning Units (PLUs) – to help K-12 educators enhance their teaching practice.
NSTA describes the PLUs as “bite-sized, self-paced, asynchronous short courses that are designed around relevant science education topics.” Currently, there are eight PLUs available online, but NSTA says it plans to release up to three new PLUs each month.
“NSTA Professional Learning Units provide an opportunity for all educators, regardless of their schedule or location, to learn and put into practice research-based pedagogy that places students at the center of learning,” said Erika Shugart, NSTA executive director. “We are thrilled to offer these new short courses to educators nationwide.”
In a press release, NSTA said the goal of the PLUs is to help educators gain practical teaching strategies to improve classroom learning. To meet that goal, NSTA said the courses are “designed to meet educators at their current understanding of contemporary science teaching practices, providing the tools necessary so that they are successful in creating a more collaborative, student-centered environment where science ideas are accessible and engaging for all students.”
“When educators shift their teaching from a lecture-focused approach to one where their role is as a guide or facilitator for students, a transformation in the classroom occurs,” noted Shugart. “In a student-centered classroom, students begin to construct their own understanding of ideas and make connections to real-world situations, leaving them feeling more empowered and excited about learning science.”
Current PLU topics include social justice, phenomena, technology, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Educators can earn a downloadable certificate awarding two credit hours of professional learning upon completion of each PLU.