"The World in a River" : Redesigning An Earth Science Course for Pre-Service Elementary Teachers and Researching Its Impact on Learner Knowledge and Perspectives

Wednesday 4:30pm-5:45pm Student Union: Ballroom B
Poster Session Part of Wednesday Session


Danielle Ford, University of Delaware
Susan McGeary, University of Delaware
Jennifer Gallo-Fox, University of Delaware
Cheryl Ackerman, University of Delaware
The University of Delaware's "World in a River" project, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, seeks to redesign the way teaching and learning occurs in an entry level Earth Science course that is required of all elementary pre-service teachers. Studies have shown that elementary teacher education students typically lack strong scientific content knowledge, have a limited understanding of the nature of science and scientific processes, and have limited confidence in their ability to learn and teach science. Using the Next Generation Science Standards and place-based, hands-on, technologically-enriched curricula, the redesigned course features an overarching theme of Earth system processes as exemplified within a single stream watershed. The goal of this project is threefold: to increase student learning and skill development, bolster the confidence of these future teachers in their ability to teach science, and increase their motivation to learn science. In this presentation, a science educator from the team will discuss the project research agenda, including the development of research questions and methodological approaches to understanding the impact of curriculum innovations on elementary pre-service teacher knowledge and attitudes. We are using a design-based approach to curriculum improvement, with iterative design, enactment, analysis, and redesign cycles, and a quasi-experimental design for evaluation, where the outcomes of the newly designed course will be compared with the outcomes of the traditional-format course. This allows us to test and evaluate the impact of these research-based pedagogical approaches and curriculum modifications on pre-service teacher learning, which in turn can inform educational research on Earth Science instruction for non-majors, and broader understandings of how pre-service teachers learn and engage with these concepts.