Educating pre-service teachers in geoscience methodsKandi Wojtysiak, Education, Rio Salado College
Challenges of preparing teachers to teach science
Rio Salado College in Tempe, Arizona promotes an innovative program in teacher education. The education department is faced with many challenges and one is ensuring our new teachers have the resources and training to teach science effectively. Our teacher prep program is an online program with in-person components. Students learn practical application of science teaching methodology and curriculum design. The techniques of hands-on science and science as inquiry are taught.
Once our pre-service student educators graduate and are in the classroom, they need to put theory into practice in a world where high stakes testing of other subject matter is the primary focus. Additionally teachers are faced with a pacing guide and breadth is favored over depth. In a direct instruction classroom, more concepts can be "covered" in a shorter amount of time. When science is taught as a static discipline, few students develop an interest in science. Science needs to be taught as relevant and dynamic. We need to develop our teachers to teach science in engaging ways. The inquiry method is highly favored over direct instruction. In a recent study by WestEd in California, it was discovered the vast majority of California middle school students are being taught science by content reading and not by the use of meaningful experiments.
As professional educators, we need to teach our pre-service teachers the value of hands-on experiences as well as the dynamic field of geoscience. Geosciences are relevant and can be taught in an engaging way. Geosciences demonstrate how to apply the science processes. Geosciences Students can learn how the different disciplines connect. The study of engineering connects to geology and many other fields in science. The field of Geosciences is growing rapidly and teachers need to understand the importance in context of those they teach. Our future educators must be able to teach their young students, they are the problem solvers of tomorrow and scientists are the great problem solvers of the world. As STEM becomes increasingly important and the integration of these topics is more crucial, teachers need to be aware of the methods and the ability to integrate. As an instructor of pre-service teachers I need to inspire these future educators and teach them the importance of these instructional methods. My student must feel capable and confident and be ready and willing to teach science as a meaningful experience.
Robelen, E., (2012, March 23), Study Finds Middle School Science Instruction Lacking in California., Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2012/03/most_california_middle_schoole.html