Teacher Preparation > Supporting Preservice Teachers > Browse Teacher Preparation Courses > University of Delaware, Newark: Science Semester
Page prepared for SERC by Heather Rissler in consultation with John Madsen

Science Semester

Course Type:
Interdisciplinary Science and Education Course

Course Size:
60 Elementary Education Majors

Course Summary
Science Semester is an interdisciplinary course offered to Elementary Education Majors. Students concurrently enroll in 4 different topics courses: Principles of Biology (BISC 104), Elementary Curriculum-Science (EDUC 341), Earth Science (GEOL 113), and Physical Science (SCEN 102). Content is covered through inquiry-based learning activities and investigations that explore topics in science and education from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Students work in small groups on problem-based learning activities to explore content that relates to each investigation. Micro-teaching and peer evaluation provide students with further opportunities to develop skills that can be used in their future teaching. Weekly lab exercises focus on discipline specific content.

For Dr. Madsen's reflections on the course and its design, see Science Semester: Role in the Program

Course Context:

Science Semester is taken by Sophomore Elementary Education Majors. Students concurrently enroll in three science content courses and one science teaching methods course.

Course Goals:

Science Semester addresses:
  1. Content Knowledge
  2. Students will improve their understanding of major concepts and issues in each discipline as well as methods in science elementary education.
  3. Inquiry
  4. Students develop inquiry skills and explore topics using problem based learning activities.
  5. Unifying Themes
  6. Students investigate complex scientific issues by exploring unifying themes and distinguishing characteristics among the biological, earth, and physical sciences.
  7. Science/Technology/Society
  8. Investigations allow students to explore science and education in relation to personal, professional, and broader social issues
  9. Pedagogical Knowledge
  10. Students critically examine a variety of strategies for teaching and learning science and their theoretical foundations

Course Content:

Science Semester integrates science content and pedagogy through a series of investigations:
The individual investigations are rooted in one of the four disciplines (Physical Science, Biological Science, Earth Science, and Elementary Education), but are approached from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Students use inquiry-based approaches and PBL activities to address the topics in each investigation. Through completing the investigations, students address multiple topics and integrate knowledge across disciplines. Students meet in a variety of settings including large groups and small groups incorporating lecture and inquiry-based learning.

Teaching Materials:

Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 94kB Feb1 06)


Students are assessed following each investigation by an exam combining essays and multiple-choice questions and on group projects completed during the course of each investigation.

References and Notes:

The development of this course was funded by a grant from the NSF. Funding also supports assessment of the outcome of the course and its impact on student teaching. A population of students completing the science semester are followed through to their student teaching and interviewed to examine how their experience in Science Semester is integrated into their own teaching. Students completing the Science Semester are credited by their professors as having improved their skills in writing and problem solving.