How well do introductory geoscience courses prepare future teachers? Results from the National Geoscience Teaching Practices Survey

Thursday 3:15pm Ritchie Hall: 366


Anne Egger, Central Washington University
Most teachers experienced Earth science in a single introductory undergraduate geoscience course. To what extent do classroom practices in introductory geoscience courses reflect the practices we expect future teachers to use in their classrooms, as defined in the Framework for K-12 Science Education and standards based on the Framework? I make use of results from the National Geoscience Teaching Practices survey, which has been administered four times: in 2004, 2009, 2012, and 2016. The survey includes questions about teaching methods, and the extent to which they incorporate quantitative and data analysis techniques, geospatial skills, and systems thinking skills, among others. I analyze responses for introductory courses (n = 775 in 2004, 966 in 2009, 909 in 2012, 1096 in 2016).

Teaching methods: Results show that respondents who spend 20% or more of class time in the "lecture portion" of their introductory course on student activities, questions, and discussion was lowest in 2004 at 41.3% and highest in 2016 at 67.0%. The percentage of respondents who indicated that students collected and analyzed their own data was highest in 2016 at 41%. I use caution in interpreting changes over the four administrations as increases, because the audience reached by the survey changed as well.

Skills: While the use of algebraic equations in introductory courses is quite common, statistical analyses are rarely used. Similarly, working with geospatial data is common, while making a geologic map is not. A small minority of faculty incorporate aspects of systems thinking such as making systems visible through causal maps and making predictive models.

These analyses suggest that the coupling between the college-level geoscience courses that future teachers are most likely to take and what they are expected to teach is loose, and should be considered in development of both introductory geoscience courses and professional development for teachers.

Presentation Media

Egger presentation (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) PRIVATE FILE 2.5MB Jul18 18)