Page prepared for SERC by Heather Rissler in consultation with John Madsen
A discussion of the design and implementation of Science Semester, an interdisciplinary course serving pre-service teachers at University of Delaware, Newark created by Dr. John Madsen .
A description of this course and its goals is available.
What Role Does this Course Play in Teacher Preparation?
Science Semester provides students with:
- An integrated approach to teacher preparation that combines science and pedagogy content
- A model for inquiry and problem based learning
- A multidisciplinary approach to problem solving
- A transition into role as teachers
How does the Course Address Each Role?
- Investigations are approached from three science content areas
- Pedagogical issues are addressed through study of theory and through practice
- Students participate in micro-teaching with peer evaluation
- Students work directly with kits that are used in elementary science classrooms
- Students evaluate state and federal standards
How do Students Integrate Learning & Teaching?
During Science Semester, students complete an investigation that focuses on student learning and effective practices for science education. Through micro-teaching, peer evaluation, working with science kits, and evaluating science education standards, students are able to integrate learning and teaching.
How does the Course Transition Pre-service Teachers into the Classroom?
Science Semester provides broad science content and methods in teaching elementary science. Students who complete Science Semester use tools and lessons from the course during their student teaching. The course models inquiry based learning and problem-solving skills that students can use in their future classrooms.
How is the Course Content Aligned with the National Science Education Standards?
Students evaluate state and national science education standards and alignment of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and standards.
How does the Course Meet Certification Requirements?
The course meets Delaware state certification requirements.
What Challenges have been Encountered in Teaching this Course? How have they been Resolved?
Challenges that have been encountered in teaching Science Semester include:
- Group Work Students initially express some resistance to group work and face dealing with the consequences of individual responsibility in teamwork. Group work in the course fosters engagement in a team as collaborators and peers and exposes students to the ethics of group work. Groups are switched part way through the term to provide students with multiple opportunities for developing working relationships with their peers
- Inquiry based learningStudents initially express a concern over lack of traditional 'lectures' and book-centered learning. Instructor guidance is strong during the initial period of the course and tapers gradually, enabling learning to become a self-guided process.
- SchedulingSince students must concurrently enroll in 4 individual courses to complete the Science Semester, scheduling can be difficult. Although the scheduling is difficult, students benefit from the organization of Science Semester into sessions that involve large groups working on interdisciplinary investigations, small groups focused on PBS, and weekly labs focused on discipline specific content