Addressing NGSS by Combining a Science Methods Course with an Introductory Geology Course

Friday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms


Tim Flood, Saint Norbert College
Scott Kirst, Saint Norbert College
Instilling a passion for science in K-8 education majors is a lofty, yet difficult endeavor. The task is further exacerbated because students are also expected to advocate for other subjects in their future career. For pre-service educators, the definitive goal should be not simply to familiarize future elementary teachers to aspects of science, but rather to inculcate in them the excitement of science that they will then ultimately share with their students. Educators from St Norbert College, a small liberal arts college located in the greater Green Bay WI area, addressed the goal of producing competent and hopefully passionate, future K-8 educators by combining a 4-credit science methods course from the Education Department with a 4-credit introductory geology course from the Natural Science Division. The new combined course also includes a 3-day pre-course geology field trip. This required course for pre-service students also seeks to address K-8 science needs related to the NGSS. The administrative challenge to combine the two courses was not trivial.
Assessment of this new instructional paradigm was based on qualitative and/or quantitative measurements of four learning characteristics; pre-service teachers' attitudes towards science, nature and depth of the pre-service teachers understanding of science and critical thinking skills, perceptions and recognition of the connections to science and science cross-cutting concepts, and perception of science and their thoughts on becoming a scientist. Assessment of these characteristics help measure the attitudes, perceptions, knowledge, skills, and dispositions of the students. Preliminary interpretation of the assessment data support the initial premise that the students, through this new paradigm, increase their conceptual foundation for the nature of science, their appreciation of the scientific endeavor and recognition that they are nascent scientists. Analysis also indicates that they are better suited to teach about the nature of science and what a scientist does.