Teacher Preparation > Supporting Preservice Teachers > Browse Teacher Preparation Courses > Grand Valley State University: Earth Science in Secondary Education
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Earth Science in Secondary Education

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Course Type:
Science Education

Course Size:
Lecture/Lab 24/24

Course Summary

Earth Science in Secondary Education is designed to prepare students to teach Earth Science at the secondary level. The three-hour combined lecture/lab course requires students to review major content areas in Earth Science, build new and compile existing lessons and units in these areas, compile a variety of teaching resources, carry out a small research project and start down the path of being a professional science teacher. Several projects help students develop accurate and concise writing in both teaching and scientific formats working in teams and as individuals. Students conduct an earth science research project relating to a local geologic event (such as the Grand River Flood of 1904). Pedagogical experience is gained through work with a practicing teacher. Students develop an original lesson and unit plan, presenting their work orally and in writing, preparing a paper ready for peer review and publication.

For Dr. Mattox's reflections on the course and its design, see Earth Science in Secondary: Role in the Program.

Course Context:

This course serves as the concluding capstone experience to the pre-service science course sequence. It serves to integrate the content of the earth and biological sciences by highlighting the connections between fields. The course is taken before the pedagogy component of the student's program.

Course Goals:

As part of the teacher preparation sequence, students:
  1. Increase content knowledge about Earth Science
  2. Improve skills in teaching science by inquiry
  3. Demonstrate and highlight connections between Earth Science and astronomy, biology, chemistry, and physics
  4. Engage in geologic research
  5. Provide teaching materials and resources
  6. Foster a professional work ethic
  7. Demonstrate proficiency at addressing the Michigan Curriculum Framework standards and understanding the format of the Michigan Education Assessment Program

Course Content:

This course focuses on a mix of earth science concepts spanning space science, weather and climate, the hydrosphere, and geology. Students work with a classroom instructor before preparing a publishable classroom lesson based on this content.

Teaching Materials:

Materials available for this course on this website include:


Assessment in this course focuses on a balance between development of pedagogical and content skills. Earth science research skills are developed through participation in a field trip and investigation of a local geologic problem. Students develop a constructivist lesson and unit plan after observing a practicing teacher. Assessment of the lesson uses a detailed rubric that evaluates both the science content and its delivery. The lesson produced must be of such quality that it could be sent out for peer review in an appropriate science education journal. All materials contribute to a portfolio of the student's work required for graduation.

References and Notes:

This course is part of a 12-credit series of four courses designed as a group in accordance with Michigan standards, which encourage the teaching of integrated science with a balance of biological, earth, space and physical sciences. These courses were designed specifically for pre-service teachers instead of using pre-existing general education courses to cover science content.