Teacher Preparation > Supporting Preservice Teachers > Browse Teacher Preparation Courses > Portland State University: Special Secondary Methods of Math and Science

Special Secondary Methods of Math and Science

Author Profile

Course Type:
Interdisciplinary Science & Math Graduate Methods Course for Pre-Service Teachers

Course Size:
Lecture 25

Course Summary
This methods course is designed to give students with a scientific or mathematical background preparation delivery of such content in a classroom format. The pre-service teachers develop instructional skills designed to give their own future students the ability to work from a scientific point of view. These skills are drawn from educational psychology, classroom experience, intuition, creative efforts and content specific experiences in a supportive, collegial environment. Development of sound pedagogical practice for math and science teachers and assessment of the abilities and needs of students of science form the core activities in this course. While some content elements may be new to individual students, learning content is not the primary focus of this course.

For Dr. Narode's reflections on the course and its design, see Special Secondary Methods of Math & Science: Role in the Program.

Course Context:

Students enter this course with undergraduate degrees in math and science with the objective of becoming middle or high school math and science teachers in Oregon. Most have spent a number of years as practicing scientists or in industry and have returned to school to pursue a second career. The course is integrated across the disciplines. Demographically math and biology make up approximately 50 and 25% of the student population with the remainder spread across middle school science and high school physics and chemistry.

Course Goals:

Within the context of recent science and math education reform and national and state standards, the pre-service teachers in this course seek to:
  1. Identify and describe the key concepts within the subject disciplines and the conceptual underpinnings prerequisite to study in the disciplines.
  2. Adapt instruction to the cognitive development of the student including developing methods to promote critical thinking and metacognition in their classrooms and lesson plans which teach concepts in the context of pair problem solving and cooperative learning.
  3. Become familiar with resources for instruction, including texts, computer software, educational journals, audio-visual aids, and the use of informal science education environments such as the Zoo and OMSI.
  4. Develop methods for student testing and evaluation incorporating relevant social, historical, and technological perspectives into math and science instruction. Methods to teach to culturally diverse student populations and instructional recommendations for teaching the learning impaired are investigated. Students also critically examine educationally charged topics such as Creationism vs. Evolution, population and the environment, modern medicine and the sanctity of life, etc.

Course Content:

This course focuses on pedagogical techniques needed by teachers of math and science. Individual students efforts are directed toward the discipline they are preparing to teach in.
  • Model Lesson
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Piaget's Developmental Learning Theory
  • Lesson Planning
  • The Role of Misconceptions in Instruction
  • Hot Topic: The Creationism vs. Evolution Debate
  • The Union of Informal and Formal Science Education: Science at the Zoo, Science at OMSI
  • Review of National Science Education Standards
  • Teaching Concepts, Procedures, and Facts
  • In Search of the Good Conceptual Question
  • Assessing Understanding
  • Review of National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards for Curriculum & Evaluation
  • Teaching Concepts, Procedures, and Facts
  • In Search of the Good Conceptual Question
  • Student Presentations: Microteach a Lesson
  • Multiculturalism in Math and Science Education
  • What Respecting Diversity Means in Math and Science Education

Teaching Materials:

Materials available for this course on this website include:


Assessment in this course is tailored to the content area that individual students are preparing to teach. One major objective in this methods course is to encourage pre-service teachers to ask questions of their future students as a means to bringing scientific investigation into the classroom. A further focus of the course is for pre-service teachers to gain an understanding of the psychology of the learners they will be working with. A focus on how content should be taught is a key aspect of assessment in this course. As part of this course students complete:

References and Notes:

This course prepares pre-service teachers for the larger scale integrated science program used in Oregon schools. Earth Science per se is not a large component in the Oregon curriculum but does play a role in the Integrated Science course taught in middle schools or the Global Science course taught for lower level students in high schools.