Earth Educators Rendezvous > Previous Rendezvous > Rendezvous 2016 > Program > Oral Sessions > Teacher Preparation, Professional Development and Policy Issues

Teacher Preparation, Professional Development and Policy Issues

Monday 1:30pm-4:00pm Weeks Geo: AB20
Oral Session

Session Chairs

Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Kathy Browne, Rider University


1:30pm
A Longitudinal Study of Science Teaching Efficacy and Math Anxiety in Pre-Service Teachers
Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia

Show Abstract »

Negative attitudes of elementary teachers towards science and math have been well documented for several decades, a combination which impacts how science content is taught (Bleicher, 2001; Joseph, 2010), and ultimately has a limiting effect on student learning outcomes (Shrigley, 1974). These attitudes can be passed on to elementary students by their teachers, which encourages students to avoid science and math in the future (Beilock, 2010). Though studies of in-service teachers' perceptions of science and math have been done (e.g. Wenner, 2001), little work exists to show how these attitudes develop together in pre-service elementary teachers (PETs). This limits our ability to develop interventions that target both attitudes and content knowledge. Eastern Michigan University's PETs take three science courses in sequence: Physics, Earth Science, and Biology, all designed specifically for PETs. We have collected data on more than 225 students' science teaching efficacy (STEBI; Enoch and Riggs, 1990) and math anxiety (AMARS; Alexander and Martray, 1989) at the beginning and end of each of these courses, including multiple sections of Physics and Biology, and an additional 200 Earth Science students' science teaching efficacy. While most teaching beliefs are established before students head to college, these courses represent one last opportunity to change PETs' attitudes towards science and math, as well as their ability to teach science and math content. This work builds on previous identification of specific items on the STEBI that changed over a semester-long Earth Science course, and students' explanations for those changes (Ryker, 2015). The following questions are explored in this study: Do PETs with high math anxiety also have negative perceptions towards science, given how interrelated the two are, or do students treat them as two different domains? How do these attitudes change with exposure to required science courses, or specific strategies used in them?
1:45pm
Correlations between Teacher Preparation and Conceptual Understanding in the Earth Sciences
Russ Colson, Minnesota State University-Moorhead
Karl Leonard, Minnesota State University-Moorhead

Show Abstract »

Teachers of earth science in Minnesota and North Dakota have a wide range of preparational backgrounds. To provide insight into factors influencing preparation, we have administered an essay test to inservice and preservice teachers, geology majors, and members of the student body at Minnesota State University Moorhead. This test is not primarily a test of factual knowledge, but rather evaluates conceptual understanding and creative thinking on questions that might arise in an 8th grade or high school classroom, particularly as relevant to teaching investigative science or addressing student questions. These concepts are commonly taught in introductory college earth science. The test was validated by a panel of geoscience educators ranging from 8th grade to college instructors and scored independently by two graders who followed a scoring rubric. We consider correlations to several factors, including number of courses taken in earth science, courses taken in other sciences, whether courses are introductory or advanced, and whether they were traditional (classroom and lab) or nontraditional (workshop or online course). Teaching experience was also taken into account. Results indicate that introductory courses, even when they specifically address the material tested, are generally insufficient to provide a conceptual understanding sufficient to teach earth science at the junior high or high school. Teaching experience is the most significant factor correlated to conceptual understanding, but only when that experience builds on traditional classroom experiences. Workshops and online courses, when taken without prior traditional foundation in earth science, provide no statistically significant improvement in understanding of the discipline. We conclude that tracking student exposure to a set of "content standards" is an inadequate means to confirm proper preparation of teachers. Instead, future teachers benefit from a 'synergistic' exposure to broader disciplinary material outside the standards and repeated exposure to material more advanced than they are required to teach.
2:00pm
Leveraging K-12 principal training and evaluation standards to support environmental, ecological and sustainability education in public schools: An example of Policy Analysis in GER
Anthony Feig, Central Michigan University
Rodolfo Rincones, University of Texas at El Paso

Show Abstract »

Policy analysis is the process of understanding 1) the most effective means for accomplishing a goal within a given policy framework, and 2) how policies and goals relate. In this study, the goal is to establish a rigorous, holistic Earth Systems/Environmental Science curriculum in a public school. The policies being analyzed are the training and evaluation processes for school principals. Environmental science, ecology and sustainability studies can be conceptually packaged as "ecoliteracy." The four themes of ecoliteracy education are environmental justice, stewardship, deep time and understanding Earth systems as interconnected processes. In setting a school's goals and culture of learning, principals can establish a vision and curriculum of ecoliteracy. Because ecoliteracy is such a dramatic departure from current practice in public K-12 science education, principals require significant support and endorsement from higher levels in their efforts. In Texas and Michigan, Administrator (Principal) Standards fall into seven categories: Executive leadership/vision, learning/curriculum leadership, school culture, school operations, personnel management, external/collaborative relationships and ethics. A convergence exists between the principles of ecoliteracy education and the training and evaluation of public school principals. Comparative case study reveals that, with proper interpretation, Principal Standards and Performance Indicators in both Texas and Michigan can support a principal's efforts to establish ecoliteracy education at the building level. This support is especially desirable in the face of high-stakes accountability and the devaluing of science education.
2:15pm
A Case of High School Earth and Space Science in the Great Plains
Elizabeth Lewis, University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Show Abstract »

While U.S. high school students' access to Earth and space science (ESS) varies widely from state to state, nationally ESS content is the most neglected area of science education. States are in the process of formally adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which have been carefully developed and articulated in conjunction with state educational leaders. However, the authors of the standards rarely address the classroom-level challenge with which states, school districts, and teachers must grapple in order to enact science lessons that reflect the distinctive features of ESS concepts and show that their students are meeting the NGSS high school learning objectives. This study of one Great Plains state asks the questions: (a) How do school districts provide ESS education at the high school level? and (b) To what degree is ESS being taught by in- and out-of-field science teachers? We found that only 12% of sampled districts offered a stand-alone ESS course for high school students, while 76% of districts integrated ESS topics with existing physical science and/or biology courses. School districts control the course structure of how ESS state and national standards are implemented in HS classrooms. During the 7-year period (2007-2008 to 2013-2014 academic years) we investigated, the state awarded 759 science teaching endorsements to either new or in-service teachers; only 3.16% were secondary (grades 7-12) single-subject ESS endorsements. Thus, most high school science teachers are teaching ESS out-of-field and are doing so with less than a minor in the subject. When teachers teach out-of-field they lack the confidence and ESS subject matter knowledge to teach using inquiry-based approaches and are less likely to recognize misconceptions and oversimplification of ESS content. With continued marginalization of 9-12 ESS education through policy and practice, we may never achieve our national vision of scientific literacy.
2:30pm
Break
2:45pm
Opportunities and motivations for cultivating Earth and sustainability literacy in future teachers
Anne Egger, Central Washington University
Kim Kastens, Columbia University in the City of New York
Valentina Mara, Columbia University in the City of New York

Show Abstract »

In an effort to infuse sustainability and Earth literacy across the undergraduate curriculum, InTeGrate has developed instructional materials for implementation in several types of courses. One of the target audiences is future K-12 teachers. All students who took part in 2012-2015 testing of InTeGrate instructional materials participated in pre- and post- assessments of Earth literacy using the Geoscience Literacy Exam (GLE) and of sustainable behaviors and motivations using the InTeGrate Attitudinal Instrument (IAI). A total of 1125 students provided at least some matched responses to these two instruments. Of those, 245 students were determined to be "very interested in teaching," either by the nature of the course they were enrolled in or their responses to career and major questions on the IAI. The majority of the "very interested" students are not enrolled in a designated teacher preparation course, but in general education science courses. In their responses to the IAI, they distinguish themselves from their peers by being more influenced by family and friends in their decisions to engage in sustainable behaviors and by a commitment to incorporating knowledge about Earth and the environment into their professional careers. It is possible that these differences are due to the demographics of this population, including that they are generally being surveyed at a later point in their undergraduate career, and/or that they are more female and less under-represented than the rest of the test population. However, these results may also represent an opportunity to tap in to future teachers' interests and motivations and integrate sustainability more deeply into the curriculum of a population with tendencies in that direction.
3:00pm
Guiding Teachers to Implement an NGSS Aligned Curriculum Focused on Natural Phenomena and Engineering Scenarios
Kathy Browne, Rider University
Anne Catena, Princeton University
Cathlene Leary-Elderkin, Rider University
Wil van der Veen, Raritan Valley Community College
Carrie Tretola, Rider University

Show Abstract »

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) cleverly weave three dimensions of learning together to help K-12 teachers of science guide learners: science and engineering practices (SEPs), cross cutting concepts (XCCs), and disciplinary core ideas (DCIs). Implementing a three dimensional curriculum is a challenging task for teachers for several reasons whether done by revising old curricula or using a newly published product. Some difficult steps include: designing instruction that will guide learners to make sense of and use DCIs in the context of XCCs; selecting SEPs that can best support DCI and XCC learning; identifying natural phenomena or engineering scenarios that engage DCIs and XCCs; creating a series of three dimensional learning tasks that enable learners to complete a full learning cycle; and making XCCs and SEPs explicit in learning experiences. We have been guiding teachers from 18 districts to develop skills to revise and/or evaluate lessons for NGSS alignment. Teachers already introduced to the NGSS through other programs participated in a four day program stretched over seven months. The program included gradual orientation to the three dimensions as well as engineering DCIs, lesson revision, cross-grade team collaborations, and study of student learning artifacts. More NGSS experienced teachers have been exploring approaches to adding civic engagement in the sciences as a way to align with NGSS engineering expectations. A next for the lesson revision group is to explore how to assess three dimensional learning. A summary of our program will be presented and attendees will be engaged in developing a resource that helps teachers identify natural phenomena and engineering scenarios related to DCIs and XCCs.
3:15pm
Building Earth and Space Science Community Capacity for the Next Generation Science Standards
Susan Sullivan, University of Colorado at Boulder
Aida Awad, AIU
Ed Robeck, American Geosciences Institute

Show Abstract »

The Next Generation Science Standards offer an opportunity to teach Earth and space science in ways that are closer to how scientists practice, and more relevant to students and to societal issues. However, the level of scientific community involvement required to capitalize on this opportunity is high. Building on the relationships and results of the Summit Meeting on the Implementation of the NGSS at the State Level, this presentation proposes a set of mechanisms by which the NGSS Earth and space science community can support NGSS implementation at the national, state and local levels. Based on work with summit attendees, classroom teachers, informal educators and undergraduate faculty, this presentation describes opportunities to build a network of practitioners with shared communication, approaches and resources.
3:30pm
A Museum-based residency model for a Masters in Teaching Earth Science
Rosamond Kinzler, American Museum of Natural History
David Randle, American Museum of Natural History

Show Abstract »

To address the shortage of Earth science teachers in New York State (NYS), the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) launched a Masters of Teaching (MAT) program in 2012 with the aim of increasing the number of certified Earth science teachers. To date, 50 teachers have graduated from the program and most are engaged as full time teachers. With encouraging results from the pilot phase, the program has been institutionalized through authorization from the NY State Board of Regents to offer the MAT degree as part of the Museum's Richard Gilder Graduate School. The fourth cohort of teachers will finish this summer and a fifth cohort of 15 candidates will begin. A major challenge is the recruitment of academically strong Earth science majors with the dispositions to be successful in high-need schools. The intensive 15-month curriculum comprises one summer of museum teaching residency, a full academic year of residency in high-needs public schools, one summer of museum teaching residency, a science research residency, and concurrent graduate-level courses in Earth and space sciences, pedagogy, and adolescent psychology. An emphasis is placed on field-based geological studies, experiential learning, and preparation to teach science based on the principles presented in the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards. In an effort to ensure that MAT candidates have a robust knowledge base in Earth science, we selected teacher candidates with strong backgrounds in fields including geology, meteorology, space science, and paleontology, combined with demonstrated commitment to become Earth science teachers. This presentation will introduce this residency model of teacher preparation, present the program as a possible path for geoscience students interested in the teaching profession, and discuss some of what AMNH has learned from four cohorts of students, some who have been teaching in high-needs schools for three years.
3:45pm
Discussion