Teacher Preparation and Professional Development

Wednesday 1:30pm-4:00pm REC Center Medium Ice Overlook Room
Oral Session

Session Chairs

Michael Wysession, Washington University in St. Louis
Kathy Browne, Rider University
1:30pm
Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards
Michael Wysession, Washington University in St. Louis

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This is a critical time for the geoscience community. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have been released and are now being adopted by multiple states, with dramatic implications for national K-12 science education. Curriculum developers and textbook companies are working hard to construct educational materials that match the new standards, which emphasize a hands-on practice-based approach that focuses on working directly with primary data and other forms of evidence. While the set of 8 science and engineering practices of the NGSS lend themselves well to the observation-oriented approach of much of the geosciences, there is currently not a sufficient number of geoscience educational modules and activities geared toward the K-12 levels, and geoscience research organizations need to be mobilizing their education & outreach programs to meet this need. It is a rare opportunity that will not come again in this generation. There are other significant issues surrounding the implementation of the NGSS. The NGSS involves a year of Earth and space science at the high school level, but there does not exist a sufficient workforce is geoscience teachers to meet this need. The form and content of the geoscience standards are also very different from past standards, moving away from a memorization and categorization approach and toward a complex Earth Systems Science approach. Combined with the shift toward practice-based teaching, this means that significant professional development will therefore be required for the existing K-12 geoscience education workforce. How the NGSS are to be assessed is another significant question, with an NRC report providing some guidance but leaving many questions unanswered. There is also an uneasy relationship between the NGSS and the Common Core of math and English, and the recent push-back against the Common Core in many states may impact the implementation of the NGSS.
1:45pm
Building pre-service teachers' understanding of the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices through readings, reflections, and activities
Anne Egger, Central Washington University

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The Science and Engineering Practices (SEP) dimension of the Next Generation Science Standards highlight several shifts from previous national and state science standards: they focus on pratices rather than a single "scientific method," include engineering as a similar, overlapping, and complementary pursuit to science, and make explicit connections to the Common Core State Standards in language arts and math. While most college-level science courses make use of the science and engineering practices described in the NGSS, few offer explicit instruction in them. To reach future teachers, therefore, that explicit instruction in the SEP should be incorporated into the curriculum for pre-service teachers. I incorporated readings from Visionlearning's peer-reviewed, freely available, web-based Process of Science series (http://www.visionlearning.com/en/library/Process-of-Science/49) into a required class for pre-service middle-level and secondary science teachers. Students reflected on each reading by describing what they learned and something they will use in their future teaching. In general, students with more science courses had a better initial understanding of the SEP and found the readings to be engaging stories that explained in more depth what they already knew. However, all students reported learning some fundamental aspects of the SEP. Most commonly, they learned scientific language, often words with both colloquial and scientific definitions: theory, hypothesis, law, uncertainty, error, confidence, model. Other learning gains were reported in defining the difference between scientific controversy and social controversy over science, how much scientists work in groups and interact at meetings, and the role that funding plays in guiding research. On their own, students struggled to describe explicit ways to incorporate these concepts into their teaching, though many felt it was very important to do so. In follow-up discussions and activities, we developed strategies to promote bringing the SEP explicitly into the middle-level and secondary science classroom.
2:00pm
Preparing Pre-service Teachers for the NGSS through Earth Science for Educators Courses
Nancy Price, Portland State University

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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.
2:15pm
A Collaborative Model for Aligning Teacher Preparation Programs with the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards
Ed Geary, Western Washington University
Anne Egger, Central Washington University
Stamatis Vokos, Seattle Pacific University
Ellen Ebert, OSPI
Roxane Ronca, Western Washington University
Jacob Clark Blickenstaff
Sara Julin, Whatcom Community College

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A consortium of 2- and 4-year Washington State Colleges and Universities in partnership with Washington's Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Teachers of Teachers of Science, and Teachers of Teachers of Mathematics, and other key stakeholders, is currently working to improve science learning for all Washington State students by creating a new vision for STEM teacher preparation in Washington State aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Mathematics and Language Arts. Specific objectives include: (1) strengthening elementary and secondary STEM Teacher Preparation courses and curricula, (2) alignment of STEM teacher preparation programs across Washington State with the NGSS and CCSS, (3) development of action plans to support implementation of STEM Teacher Preparation program improvement at Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the state, (4) stronger collaborations between HEIs, government agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations, and STEM businesses, involved in the preparation of preservice STEM teachers, (5) new teacher endorsements in Computer Science and Engineering, and (6) development of a proto-type model for rapid, adaptable, and continuous improvement of STEM teacher preparation programs. Currently, Washington's HEIs are conducting an NGSS gap analysis of their current teacher preparation program courses and curricula, paying particular attention to climate science and human sustainability disciplinary core ideas, engineering practices, computer science, and other NGSS items that are not well-represented in current K-12 standards or curricula. During the coming year teams of STEM faculty, education faculty and administrators will work to develop unique action plans for aligning and improving STEM teacher preparation courses and curricula at their institutions.
2:30pm
Break
2:45pm
Climate Change and Sustainability Science: Educative Curriculum Materials
Gina Williams, Univerity of Nebraska-Lincoln
Russanne Low, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
Dave Gosselin, University of Nebraska at Lincoln

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Curriculum materials for Grades K–12 that are intended for use in preservice teacher education and in service teacher professional development educative curriculum materials. We address the following question: How can K–12 curriculum materials be designed to best promote teacher learning while simultaneously meeting the requirements for resources aimed at primary and secondary students? Our presentation discusses our multiyear project where educators in the Masters of Applied Science Program, Science Educator Concentration, University of Nebraska Lincoln created a suite of climate change and sustainability resources for the K-12 classroom, including inquiry explorations, service learning projects and authentic local climate change research projects. We discuss the development process and alignment of the resources to NGSS standards, including cross cutting concepts, as well as teacher learning outcomes.
3:00pm
Cooperative Learning: Who Benefits the Most?
Rebecca Teed, Wright State University-Main Campus

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"Concepts in Geology" is an Earth-science class for pre-service K-8 teachers with a number of cooperative-learning elements. The students vary considerably in their initial understanding of Earth science and their motivation to learn more about it. The purpose of the study was to see whether those levels of prior content-knowledge and motivation affected the students' learning gains in this context. The students take a 12-question test at the beginning of the semester (the pre-test). The instructor assigns students to heterogeneous groups based on their pre-test scores, and the groups work together throughout the semester on projects such as creating presentations and designing experiments. The groups also participate in team-based testing about ten times during the semester. This form of assessment involves the students taking a ten-question multiple-choice quiz on assigned reading, first as individuals, then a second time, using the same questions, as a group. During the group quiz, the students are allowed to discuss the answers and to explain their reasoning for choosing one as correct. At the end of the semester, the students re-take the 12-question test that they took on the first day(as a post-test). The normalized learning gain between the pre- and post-test for each student tended to be weakly correlated with students' pre-test scores. Better-prepared students apparently learned slightly more. During cooperative work, these students were probably in a better position to explain their answers to their less-confident colleagues, further deepening their own understanding by articulating it in their own words. Individual-quiz averages across the semester were moderately correlated with students' pre-test scores. Prior knowledge may be partly a result of greater interest in the subject, which is also likely to result in a greater motivation to do the assigned reading and possibly in greater reading comprehension.
3:15pm
Future Elementary Teachers Change Phase: The Transformative Power of Service-Learning in Science Education
Jason Szymanski, Monroe Community College

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Pre-professional, classroom experiences are the hallmarks of teacher-preparation programs. With increasingly more stringent federal and state requirements, the need for well-prepared teachers has never been greater. Service-learning has been shown to be a highly-effective teaching practice that connects students with their communities (Eyler, Giles, and Braxton, 1997). For the past three semesters, pre-service teachers at Monroe Community College (MCC) have planned and implemented inquiry-based, physical science lessons at Ivan L. Green Primary School, East Irondequoit Central School District, in Rochester, NY. This service-learning experience is a component of the MCC course, SCI131, Integrated Science for Future Teachers—The Physical World. The goal of this project was for pre-service teachers to gain hands-on experience applying the method of inquiry in a K-6 classroom setting. Pre-service teachers taught in peer groups, performing a series of short demonstrations that illustrated weather-related concepts and the phases of matter (NYS Science Standards 2.1 and 3.2, respectively). Their planning included the research and development of all teaching materials, with consideration of individual learning styles and special needs. Ivan L. Green students were then divided into small groups and rotated through a series of interactive-science stations, spending about 15-minutes at each station. Upon completion of their projects, MCC students submitted written reflections and presented their results to peers. The pre-service teachers' confidence in, and attitude towards, teaching science dramatically increased.
3:30pm
Using physical models to build Earth Science students' competency around the science practice of modeling
Kim Kastens, Columbia University in the City of New York
Ann Rivet, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Alison Riley Miller, Bowdoin College
Cheryl Lyons, Bowdoin College

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We have been researching how students learn and teachers teach using physical models in Earth Science. Physical models are widely used, in part because so many important Earth phenomena are too big, to slow, or too far away for students to experience in lab or on field trips. We have classroom observations of lessons using physical models, pre- and post-instruction written assessments, and interviews of students reflecting on how they reasoned while completing key assessment items. The data span two years, one before and one after a summer professional development workshop, and three topics, phases of the moon, causes of the seasons, and sedimentary deposition with grain-size sorting. Our focus is on how well students can map correspondences and non-correspondences between an aspect of the model and the analogous aspect of the real Earth System. Our findings are compatible with a three level construct for model-Earth analog mapping proficiency. The easiest level comprises analogy of objects (e.g. basketball represents Earth) and their attributes (e.g. flashlight and Sun are both light-emitting). The medium level comprises analogies of motion (e.g. lacrosse ball goes around basketball as moon goes around Earth) and configuration (e.g. largest beads are on the bottom of the settling tube as largest sediment grains are at the bottom of the sedimentary layer.) The most difficult level comprises analogy of mechanism and process. At all levels of the construct, students find it more difficult to articulate non-correspondences than correspondences. Students competency improved through instruction. Teacher use of active learning strategies and student learning gains both increased after a teacher professional development program that stressed three strategies: explicit discussion of model-earth correspondences and non-correspondences, having students use the model to solve problems, and having students use the model in interpreting data.
3:45pm
Discussion