Teacher Preparation > Supporting Preservice Teachers > Browse Teacher Preparation Courses > Minnesota State University, Mankato: Earth Science Teaching Methods

Earth Science Teaching Methods

Course Type:
Upper Division Science Education Methods Course

Course Size:
Lecture/Lab: 10/10

Course Summary
MSU Students Address Solar System Motions Kinesthetically
Earth Science Teaching Methods is the capstone methods course for pre-service earth science teachers taken prior to the onset of student teaching. The goal is to prepare students for successful entry into an earth science classroom. While the focus is on junior high and high school classrooms, the methods and techniques described are useful to those teaching novices in the earth sciences at all levels including college general education courses. Connecting earth science content with the relevant pedagogy is a priority of the course. The class meets for 3 hours/week with additional time scheduled for classroom observation, micro teaching experience and student development of a field trip.

For Dr. Moosavi's reflections on the course and its design, see Earth Science Teaching Methods: Role in the Program.

Course Context:

This course is taken by earth science education majors immediately prior to student teaching after all pedagogical and content courses have been, or are being, completed.

Course Goals:

This course focuses students on the logistical strategies and design characteristics needed to create a successful earth science course.
In this course students:
  1. Observe Practicing Earth Science Master Teachers
  2. Design a Course the Pre-service Teacher may be Assigned
  3. Find, Evaluate, Select and Integrate Materials
  4. Design Activities, Units & Demonstrations from Earth Science Content
  5. Give and Receive Peer Review of Designs
  6. Create Assessments Relevant for their Course
  7. Implement Designs with Actual K-12 Students
  8. Pre-site and Evaluate a "NEW" Field Trip with their Peers

Course Content:

This course focuses on identifying critical skills customarily addressed in earth science classes and preparing pre-service teachers to work with students in their target populations through observation of master teachers, development of their own lessons and activities and micro-teaching opportunities under supervision of a master teacher. Problems typically encountered are exposed and students are given the opportunity to explore mitigation options. The entire structure of the course is built around student development of a syllabus and related course materials for a class they expect to teach in the near future.
  • Observation of Earth Science Students (7 - College General Education)
    • Problems in Science Education & Reform Efforts
    • Staying Current: Professional Development
    • Integrating the Sciences
    • Building an Inclusive Classroom
    • Problems in Science Education & Reform Efforts
      • Building Student Skills
      • Mineral/Rock Identification
      • Graphing
      • Writing in the Classroom
      • Kinesthetic Activities for the Earth Sciences
      • Mapping/GIS
    • Finding Materials & Web Resources
    • Building a Unit
    • Student Projects
    • Demonstrations
    • School Weather Station
    • Student Use of the Literature
    • Field Trip Planning
    • Designing an Assessment Strategy
  • Microteaching with Earth Science Students (7 - 12)

Teaching Materials:

Materials available for this course on this website include:


The pre-service teachers are assessed based on the insights they pick up while observing practicing teachers, the quality and depth of materials they develop in support of the course they design and on their ability to implement their designs appropriately and effectively with real students. Peer review and discussion of all activities and clinical experiences is performed by the class before implementing any student designs with K-12 students. Observations are performed by the instructor of record and the cooperating teacher with whose class the student works. Students receive separate feedback on the assignments they develop and their clinical observations and work with students. This serves to reinforce the importance of both material development and actual performance in the classroom.

References and Notes:

This course has traditionally been run exclusively for pre-service earth science teachers. Similar courses exist for life science, physics and chemistry pre-service teachers, however, the combined enrollment of all these courses ranges from 20 - 25 per year. Staffing pressures within several departments make frequent offering of such low enrollment courses problematic. Combining the specific discipline courses into a single secondary science methods course, perhaps team taught, is advisable. As most teachers will work in interdisciplinary science departments and will be asked to teach at least some part of their load in multiple science fields over their careers, such a strategy is pedagogically sound.