Effective Programs

Written by Char Bezanson, Science Teacher, Eastview High School, Apple Valley, MN and Instructor in Education, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN.

Examples drawn from the 2003 workshop Developing the Earth Science Teacher Workforce.

Effective discipline-based Earth Science teacher preparation programs may vary among institutions, but most have essential elements in common. These include recognition of the value of the program by faculty, strong administrative support, and a willingness of faculty to reflect on how they teach as well as what they teach. Their course requirements must be flexible enough to accommodate Earth sciences courses such as astronomy and meteorology, as well as foundation courses in educational psychology. Geoscience departments with effective teacher preparation programs cultivate relationships with departments of education, with schools, and with graduates of their program who are currently teaching; they may teach or co-teach a discipline-based teaching methods course. Often, faculty are also involved in professional development for practicing teachers.

Balancing the mandates and expectations of many stakeholders is increasingly complicated, and requires exceptional administrative talent. K-12 education is taxpayer-supported, as are many universities. Constituencies include students, parents, K-12 schools, government agencies, and professional organizations representing scientists and educators. State and federal requirements for teacher licensing as well as pressure for efficient "production" of teachers within a 4- or 5-year degree program all contribute to the complexity of programs. The following essays from college and university faculty describe and comment on the approach their institution has taken to dealing with these challenges.

Essays on Secondary Earth Science Education programs

Examples of Secondary Earth Science Education programs