of Science Education
University of Nevada, Reno
John R. Cannon, Editor
David T. Crowther, Associate Editor
visits to this site since October 21, 1997
Why Reinvent the Wheel ??
One of the problems that I have been exploring for the past several years is the progress of science education reform and the preparation of elementary teachers in content science areas. We have reports and documents that show the science education reform movement is alive and well. In fact, a few recently released reports state that there is progress in the nations schools in math and science. However, there is no formal comprehensive report or data repository showing what institutions of higher education and teacher preparation programs of content science courses are doing to align more closely with the science reform movements. We hear and read of individual programs or institutions at regional/ national association conferences and in various professional journals. These reports explain mostly isolated incidences where a university or college is piloting a program or innovative classes offered from Colleges of Arts and Sciences and / or Colleges of Education, some newly developed - others which have not changed in 18 years, but once again are seen on the "cutting edge." It is for this purpose that the Electronic Journal of Science Education is devoting a new "Resources and Programs in Higher Education"section which is designed as a collection place of innovative teacher preparation programs in both the Colleges of Arts and Sciences as well as Colleges of Education or combination thereof ! (available beginning with the September issue)
To begin, and as a reminder, the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996) are a science reform effort ranged from Kindergarten through College (K-16). The Standards promote that science is a process of understanding and exploring the world in which we live. They advocate that "Learning science is something that students do, not something that is done to them" (p. 20). The standards also state that "since science content increases and changes, a teacher's understanding in science must keep pace" (p.57). The Standards go even further to suggest how teachers and prospective teachers should learn and keep pace with science: "Prospective and practicing teachers must take science courses in which they learn science through inquiry, having the same opportunities as their students will have to develop understanding" (p.60). The Standards employ science content as only one part of several facets of science instruction. They also equally encourage the process of doing science along with history, philosophy, technology, connections of unifying themes in science, and a personal and social perspective in science with the three basic content areas of life, physical and earth science.
So. . . what is being done in higher education? In a recent survey that was sent across the Associaiton of Educators of Teachers of Science (AETS) and National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) list-servs, it was found (and data is still coming in) that 36 universities /colleges in 25 states (all in the U.S.) have programs designed specifically for elementary education majors. Additionally, the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia has 5 multi-disciplinary courses taught from different science departments designed for Education Majors.
Of the responses to the list-serv request, it was found that the University of Washington, Seattle reported the highest number and offers 6 specialized science courses in their teacher preparation program.
Number of universities/colleges surveyed and
of specialized courses offered for Elementary Education Majors
University/College Number of Courses
|University of Washington, Seattle (1)||6|
Of these specialized courses, the majority of courses offered are in the Physical (Physics/chemistry) sciences with Life science courses offered as a close second.
From 37 programs, eight offer the content courses in the college of education and 29 of the 37 programs offer the content courses in the respective science departments with many of these collaboratively taught or designed with education folks. Six other universities / colleges in 3 additional (3 same) states are currently designing courses for elementary education majors.
Recently, I was privileged to participate in exciting reform effort which is a great example of the data described above. I was invited as a speaker and participant in the summer workshop for the Oklahoma Collaborative for Excellence in Teacher Preparation Project, funded by the National Science Foundation, called OTEC (Oklahoma Teacher Education Collaborative ) program. The program PI and co-PI and Dr. Robert Howard, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Tulsa, and Dr. Smith Holt, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma State University and the program director is Joe Chandler College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma State University (firstname.lastname@example.org). This is a collaborative effort of nine institutions of higher education in the state of Oklahoma to revitalize teacher education. Held on the beautiful campus of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, I observed some truly innovative programs and met wonderful people (scientists and educators) who really care about quality instruction. Dr. Brian Tapp did a few activities from his Geology course for Elementary Education Majors offered from the University of Tulsa. Dr.'s Faye Neathery, Richard Bryant and Talbert Brown shared the specialized collaboratively designed and taught courses offered at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. There were several other outstanding presentations; however, one of the highlights of the workshop came from a chemistry professor, Dr. Mark Rockley (Oklahoma State University), who has gone beyond designing a specialized hands-on inquiry course for education majors, but teaches his Chemistry 5220 course to chem majors, engineers, and pre med folk in the same way. (http://www.merck.utulsa.edu/O-TEC/osuchem.html).
Dr. Rockley said that if it was good enough for education folks it must be good for everyone!!
The Oklahoma System is not alone as Michigan State University also recently sponsored a nation-wide meeting entiled "Revitalizing Undergraduate Mathematics and Science Education: A National Dialogue." The conference was aimed at helping universities and colleges continue their efforts toward improving teaching and learning in science and mathematics courses implicated in the National Standards. Many universities and colleges were well represented during this three day event in East Lansing. As the spirit of the aftermath of the MSU conference develops, the EJSE will follow the conversations and report the progress in our "Resources and Programs in Higher Education" special section.
The above examples of science reform efforts are only two places where exciting changes are taking place. The Electronic Journal of Science Education is the perfect place for this information to be compiled and stored so that everyone has access to information of reform efforts from all places throughout the country and the world. The information from the AETS and NARST list-serv survey will soon be available from the EJSE homepage. As the data base is built, people will be invited to write descriptions of their programs and we will try to highlight these in the new "Resources and Programs in Higher Education" section of EJSE.
In the never ending effort to realize and capitalize upon the opportunities available of electronic resources, we will come closer together as a science education community and perhaps utilize the efforts of our colleagues so that none of us have to reinvent the wheel while improving the field of science education.
Table of Contents and Abstracts
The professional development of science teacher
Is there a missing piece?
by Sandra K. Abell
To go to this article, click here.
Delivering University Science Content/Education Courses To High-School Science Teachers Via Telecommunications: An Evaluation
Derrick R. Lavoie,
Assoc. Prof. of Science Education
College of Education/Applied Science and Technology
Black Hills State University, USB 9034
Spearfish, SD 57799
The purpose of this evaluative study was to determine the effects of teaching five university science content/education courses to high-school science teachers via computers and modems. A user-friendly menu-driven software conferencing system allowed instructors to engage the participating teachers in learning activities characteristic of an actual classroom such as posing and responding to questions, disseminating information, handing in work and receiving feedback. Instructor interviews and participant surveys were conducted to assess attitudes and learning outcomes relative to the course delivery, the effectiveness of the electronic medium, and participant/instructor interactions. Overall, the courses were viewed as worthwhile by the participants and instructors. Both instructors and participants experienced a brief frustration period at the beginning of each course while learning to use the electronic medium. As the courses progressed instructor roles became increasingly facilitative, with cooperative learning and inquiry questioning becoming predominant instructional strategies.
To go to this article, click here.
Teaching Beliefs and Practices of a Research Scientist Faculty Member Engaged in Science-Technology-Society (STS) Instruction
James A. Rye
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
West Virginia University
Curriculum Coordinator to the Health Sciences and Technology Academy
at the WVU Health Sciences Center
Thomas M. Dana
Assistant Professor and
Science Education Program Coordinator
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Teacher Education Programs
Penn State University
State College, PA.
Critics call for extensive reform of undergraduate science instruction, including a greater emphasis on students' prior knowledge and experiences and the interaction of science with technology and society. This case study emerged as a result of efforts to reform undergraduate science education. The purpose was to investigate the teaching beliefs and practices of a research scientist faculty member engaged in Science-Technology-Society instruction at a major postsecondary institution. A principal focus was on what large research universities could do to foster quality teaching in courses that satisfied general degree requirements in the natural sciences. Data was collected through in-depth interviews with the participant and observations of his class sessions in an STS course. Assertions that emerged from the findings speak to the instructor's "participatory" classroom culture, his instructional practices that model the values and methods of practicing scientists, and his beliefs that undergraduate science instruction is compromised at the institutional level.
To go to this article, click here.
gathered, organized, and maintained by Dave Crowther, Associate Editor, EJSE.
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