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Life and Earth Science: Role in the Program

Page prepared for SERC by Rebecca Dodge of the University of West Georgia.

A discussion of the design and implementation of Life and Earth Science content course serving pre-service teachers at the University of West Georgia, created by Rebecca Dodge.

A description of this course and its goals is available.

What Role Does this Course Play in Teacher Preparation?

The Georgia University System Board of Regents has mandated that Early Childhood Education majors must take two semesters of "Integrated Science" content classes, in addition to one semester of another laboratory science. The Life and Earth Science class is the second in the sequence, which also includes Physical Science (physics and chemistry). These classes are taught by faculty from the corresponding departments in the College of Arts & Sciences, and have been developed in cooperation with the Science Education faculty from the College of Education. Science Methods classes, which emphasize pedagogy, are taught in the CoE; separately from the "content" classes.

The Life and Earth Science course is designed introduce teachers to basic concepts as well as to prepare teachers with an understanding of the Earth Systems perspective that relates the lithosphere, the biosphere, the hydrosphere, and the atmosphere.

How does the Course Address Each Role?

Basic concepts are addressed in class lectures, which include in-class quizzes designed to focus learning basic content. Lectures emphasize and relate previous content across disciplines and systems and relate content to inquiry, as do the pre-lab and laboratory exercises.

How do Students Integrate Learning & Teaching?

Students will be asked to keep a journal in which they comment on how laboratory activities can be translated into a K-5 classroom setting. Comments will be discussed via a chat room setting.

How does the Course Transition Pre-service Teachers into the Classroom?

The laboratory part of the class is designed to provide teachers with hands-on exercises that can support science content education through inquiry-based activities.

How is the Course Content Aligned with the National Science Education Standards?

The content and the laboratory elements of these Integrated Science classes have been tied to Georgia's performance standards for K-5 science.

How does the Course Meet Certification Requirements?

This course is designed to prepare teachers to pass the Life and Earth Science paortions of the GACE™ basic skills test required for certification in Georgia.

What Challenges have been Encountered in Teaching this Course? How have they been Resolved?

This course has not yet been taught. This is a work in progress and will be revised and improved based on assessments performed each semester. The primary challenge is the huge size of the class portion versus the lab portion of the course (~150 student each semester), which makes student participation during class a challenge. We are using a student response system to facilitate student participation, but technical problems have limited its usefulness.