We increased the integration of the sciences in our upper level methods courses by increasing collaboration between science disciplines, generating two new courses, establishing a new Integrated Science major in our university, and providing access to science education faculty to all secondary science majors. We support our transfer science and science education students with improved collaboration with nearby two-year colleges, Grand Rapids Community College and Muskegon Community College.
This program involved faculty who teach at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), and Muskegon Community College (MCC). Secondary science students at GVSU obtain a major in a science discipline and, for many, an endorsement in Integrated Science. The endorsement was established more than 12 years ago, with many courses designed for individual science disciplines and before the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. Biology education students had no access to biology education faculty and physics education students only met their physics education faculty in their senior seminar. Our partners at GRCC and MCC also prepared science and science education majors but communication between the institutions was rare. New science education courses with integrated content, a new Integrated Science major, increased faculty dialogue between disciplines, access by/to all faculty, and shared pedagogy are central to improving science education at GVSU. Collaboration with GRCC and MCC established pathways to support transfer students.
We are fortunate to have the support of our Dean and the university. The university approved our new program and two new courses, and they are a permanent part of all students' curriculum. Changes in the content and pedagogy of the two new science methods courses will be based on data gained as we teach the courses. The Integrated Science faculty used a new lesson plan grading rubric that embraces NGSS and the integration of content between science disciplines. New, vibrant faculty at our nearby two-year community colleges seized the opportunity to establish curriculum agreements that better guide geology and science education majors as they start their education and transfer to GVSU.