Preparing Pre-service Teachers for the NGSS through Earth Science for Educators Courses

Wednesday 2:00pm REC Center Medium Ice Overlook Room


Nancy Price, SUNY College at Plattsburgh
The Next Generation Science Standards represent a major shift in what students are expected to know and be able to do following instruction. This does not include just content knowledge in the form of the disciplinary core ideas but also the practices and the crosscutting concepts as they work together toward a deeper understanding of the core ideas. This shift in what is expected of students must also be accompanied by a shift in what and how pre-service teachers are taught in their college-level science subject courses.

While there is much research on effective teaching methods for increasing a student's content knowledge, it is not known at this point what methods leave pre-service teachers with the functional understanding of the practices and crosscutting concepts needed for teaching the NGSS to K-12 students. Geoscience education courses for pre-service teachers (for the middle and high school levels as well as for elementary educators) were focused on teaching the core ideas through the practices following the assessable components outlined in the NGSS evidence statements. Student responses in surveys and on summative assessment items show that students enter the course without much understanding of the "practices" of science in a general sense and struggle to learn the practices as related to the NGSS over the course of a single term class. Furthermore, a geoscience course focused on just the Earth and Space Science performance expectations (ESS PEs) limit the range of experiences a student may have with the practices and crosscutting concepts because as a result of the design of the standards some practices and crosscutting concepts are underrepresented in the ESS PEs while others are overrepresented. Therefore, an Earth and Space Science course without explicit instruction on all dimensions of the NGSS may not be adequate preparation for pre-service teachers on the NGSS.

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