Guide Merging University Students into K-12 Science Education Reform

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This research project began by asking the question Is there a role for scientists in K educational reform efforts? Judging by the investment that federal funding.
Table of contents

Teachers can develop appropriate questioning techniques by participating in professional development programs. Coaching and mentoring strategies are also helpful for new teachers or for experienced teachers who want to develop a new approach to science teaching Stiles and Loucks-Horsley The science curriculum in most US schools attempts to cover many more topics per year than the international average.

Commercially published textbooks may also contribute to the lack of depth. Science textbooks, which are designed to be appropriate for as many school districts as possible, frequently touch on more content areas than can be taught within an academic year and cover many concepts only superficially. Many educators believe that students would be better served by instructional programs that examine fewer topics in greater depth.

This less-is-more approach emphasizes understanding concepts instead of memorizing facts and vocabulary and allows students to apply and extend science learning to their daily lives Pratt For example, in the elementary grades new inquiry-based programs may cover only four to six major topics per year. Students conduct a series of carefully ordered activities that allow them to gradually discover important science concepts and to apply their knowledge to new situations.

Some districts and schools are even combining instructional units from more than one source to create a customized program of studies that meets specific state or local guidelines for each grade level. Implementation of instructional programs covering fewer topics in greater depth over the course of a school year sometimes faces opposition from teachers or parents.

Teachers often have considerable personal investment in the programs they are teaching.

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In many cases, teachers have developed individual expertise in topical areas that they have covered for many years. Introduction of new instructional programs may force teachers to teach outside their areas of self-developed expertise or experience or to abandon personally developed units that they view as successful. Strong professional development programs are effective in helping teachers become successful advocates of new programs.

Other parents will insist on seeing traditional classroom products, such as worksheets and quizzes. Some schools and school districts have found that obtaining early support from parent organizations greatly facilitates the transition from traditional to inquiry-centered science programs NSRC Letters to parents, sent home before beginning a new program of instruction, also help promote understanding and shape expectations.

Current reform efforts stress the need for students to learn to connect the science learning that happens in school to their own experiences. This emphasis represents a reaction to textbook-and lecture-based instruction, in which students are taught facts and terminology but not knowledge and skills that can be applied in everyday situations. The abilities to use scientific information, to think critically, and to solve problems related to the natural and man-made worlds are valuable habits of mind that contribute to both individual and societal well-being.

These abilities can, for example, influence choices related to medical treatment, help children and others assess risks associated with any number of behaviors and actions, and promote informed participation in government. As noted by Maienschein et al. Teachers, parents, and other educators can help students link their science experiences in school to the world outside the classroom by connecting science to other school subjects, such as mathematics and language arts; by placing more emphasis on understanding scientific concepts, rather than knowing facts and information; and by applying the results of experimentation to new arguments and explanations NRC The payoff of such an approach is often increased student interest and motivation to learn science.

Opportunities for all students

Inherent in the NRC Standards is the concept that all children can and should have excellent and equivalent science learning opportunities. While acknowledging that not all students will pursue advanced studies in science and mathematics, the NRC Standards emphasizes that all students should develop the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary for functioning in a world filled with the products of scientific inquiry NRC The emphasis on science literacy for all children represents a fundamental shift from the goals of the science education movements of the s and s, which were specifically intended to produce more scientists and engineers Bybee The current challenge, which is to reach all children and all schools, raises two related issues: And, as noted by the National Science Foundation NSF , although the participation of women and minorities in science and engineering higher education continues to increase, this involvement is not yet equivalent to their representation in the 18—year-old US population.

Throughout grades K and even in college, factors such as a lack of culturally appropriate role models, insufficient parental involvement in school activities, and parents and teachers who do not encourage achievement in science and mathematics all contribute to the problem. Also affecting these and many other students, however, is the underlying issue of access to skilled teachers, quality learning materials, and adequate time in the classroom—regardless of physical or learning disabilities, socioeconomic status, or geographic location.

Inequalities of this nature directly affect K students' experiences and achievement on a daily basis. For example, communities of low socioeconomic status frequently have schools that can be categorized as ineffective, based on qualitative differences in student activities, classroom practices, and school resources and direction Snow et al. Findings from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the nation's only ongoing survey of educational progress O'Sullivan et al.

In addition, specific classroom management and instructional techniques, such as those mentioned earlier in this article, encourage successful participation in science learning activities by students of diverse backgrounds. Lack of appropriate supplies and equipment for science classes is a significant problem that limits the quality of students' hands-on experiences throughout grades K The problem is most notable in elementary schools, where, in some cases, teachers and students do not have access to even the most rudimentary tools and materials necessary for teaching and learning science.

Simple objects, such as rulers, magnifiers, cotton balls, or balances, may not be available in sufficient quantities for an entire class to engage in inquiry-based science activities. Marked differences in the availability of supplies and materials from school to school or district to district create gross inequities in the quality of different science instructional programs. In many cases, particularly in elementary schools, motivated teachers shop on their own time with personal funds to purchase supplies for science lessons.

Much more desirable is centralized management of science materials by schools or districts. Some localities with well-established science programs for grades K-8 provide teachers with kits containing all the science materials necessary for a 3—9 week unit. Kits are purchased from manufacturers or assembled at a centralized location within the school district.

School or district science centers are also responsible for refurbishing used kits so that they may be distributed and reused several times during each school year Lapp Centralized management and distribution of supplies help to ensure that all students have equally rich science experiences. Traditionally, science learning by students in the classroom has been measured using pencil and paper tests. These tests take a variety of forms and serve numerous purposes within the educational system: Teachers use tests to evaluate the progress of individuals in a particular subject area; schools use tests to evaluate teacher performance; districts use tests to assess the effectiveness of administrators and schools; and state education departments use tests to compare school districts and evaluate progress within the state as a whole.

However, many educators believe that even the most carefully designed written tests do not adequately judge students' development of skills both higher-order thinking skills, such as interpreting data and drawing conclusions, and physical skills, such as observing and measuring , nor do they equitably measure students' abilities to apply content knowledge. The use of standardized multiple-choice tests of student learning to judge the effectiveness of local programs, teachers, or administrators affects science education reform in several ways.

In Texas elementary schools, for example, the subjects on the statewide standardized test currently reading, writing, and mathematics drive curricula and budgets. One way to ensure that science is included in the curriculum is to help teachers understand the connections of science to other subject areas, such as mathematics and language arts, and how to make those connections on a daily basis. A related problem can occur when new science instructional programs are not perceived to match state science education guidelines and corresponding mandated examinations.

In such cases, teachers and administrators may be reluctant to devote time to teaching programs that, however exemplary, do not cover specific topics that appear on the tests. This situation should change gradually as individual states and school districts continue to align their guidelines more closely to the NRC Standards and generate corresponding standardized tests. It appears unlikely, however, that standardized tests will disappear any time soon.

To the contrary, the trend is toward increased use of such instruments by states and national organizations for evaluating and comparing student progress. Alternative ways to assess student learning. The NRC Standards emphasize multiple approaches to evaluating student learning rather than the exclusive use of traditional worksheets, quizzes, and tests. Department of Education funded studies, known as Salish I and Salish II, to discern the condition of preservice teacher education programs in the United States.

Salish I was a three-year study of programs and graduates from ten different universities across the United States. The study's major findings included the following:. Salish II involved fifteen new universities, which agreed to alter some aspects of their teacher education programs and to use research instruments from Salish I to determine the effectiveness of the changes. Major findings from Salish II were as follows:. A persistent problem has been the lack of articulation between pre-and in-service science teacher education. NSF support for in-service teacher education from to focused on updating science preparation in an attempt to narrow the gap.

In fact, NSF efforts often tended to deepen the problem. The NSF assumed that science teachers needed only more and better science backgrounds and the NSF model was simply one of giving teachers current science information, which they were to transmit directly to their students.

What was needed was a set of intellectual tools with which teachers could evaluate the instruction they provided. According to David Holdzkom and Pamela B. Lutz, authors of the book Research within Reach: Science Education, effective science teachers must have a broader view of science and of education. They need to be in tune with the basic goals of science education in K—12 settings and be prepared to deal with all students in efforts to meet such objectives.

Harty and Larry G. Enochs, in a article in the journal School Science and Mathematics, offered an excellent analysis of the form in-service programs should take, contending that such programs should:. The content versus process debate continues and is counterproductive at best. Science cannot be characterized by either content products produced by scientists or process behaviors that bring scientists to new understandings. Effective teacher education programs cannot be developed if science preparation focuses on content mastery and the education component focuses on process.

Teachers must learn to use both the skills and processes of science to develop new knowledge of both science and teaching. They need to use the research concerning learning, such as the National Research Council's book How People Learn. In the late s NSF initiated new programs designed to improve in-service teachers—and later preservice teachers as well. Later urban, rural, and local systemic projects were conceptualized and funded. These collaborations often tied institutions together in order to share expertise, faculty, and program features.

Optimism for even greater successes with meeting the goal of scientific literacy for all is a central focus for science teacher education. By definition they combine preservice and in-service science education—making the two seamlessly connected. They require a common research base while also assuring that a major effort of the center will be to extend that research base. They must design and implement new doctorate programs to prepare future leaders. The history of science education is replete with identification of current problems, new ideas for their resolution, major national funding since , and then almost immediate abandonment after initial trials are not successful.

The current challenge facing science teacher education is whether there is adequate national commitment, determination, and know-how to realize the visions elaborated in current reform documents. What Research Says to the Science Teacher.

Teaching strategies that promote scientific literacy

Education for All American Youth. Education for All American Youth: Preservice Elementary Teacher Education in Science. University of Iowa, Science Education Center. Influences on New Teachers and Their Students: The programs generally consist of half …. Please include a link to this page if you have found this material useful for research or writing a related article.

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Moving beyond GK–12

Science Education- Overview, Preparation of teacher. I would like to use this article for my research. If you have written newer article about this subject please email it to me. Best Regards Sid Mir university student. Movers and Packers Gurgaon http: Movers and Packers Pune http: Might I get the year of publication? Many thanks, Doug Foster. The Role of Science and Technology Education As the twentieth century ended, it was clear that science and technology played significant roles in the lives of all people, including future employment and careers, the formulation of societal decisions, general problem solving and reasoning, and the increase of economic productivity.

Asking questions about the natural universe, that is, being curious about the objects and events in nature. Trying to answer one's own questions, that is, proposing possible explanations. Designing experiments to determine the validity of the explanations offered. Collecting evidence from observations of nature, mathematical calculations, and, whenever possible, experiments that could be carried out to establish the validity of the original explanations.

Communicating evidence to others, who must agree with the interpretation of evidence in order for the explanation to become accepted by the broader community of scientists. The National Science Education Standards set out just four goals, namely, the production of students who: Experience the richness and excitement of knowing about and understanding the natural world Use appropriate scientific processes and principles in making personal decisions Engage intelligently in public discourse and debate about matters of scientific and technological concern Increase their economic productivity through the use of the knowledge, understanding, and skills of the scientifically literate person in their fields History of Science Courses in American Schools Early American public schools did not include science as a basic feature.

Comparing Science Education Requirements around the World Reformers in most industrial nations across the world advocate similar school reforms of science with new goals, procedures, materials, and assessment. Trends, Issues, and Controversies Science education is evolving once again—as it has since the emergence of public schools in the United States—to a focus on mastering basic concepts and skills that can be used in new situations. According to Vito Perrone, such engagement is accomplished when: Students help to define the content—often by asking questions. Students have time to wonder and to find interesting pursuits.

Topics often have strange features that evoke questions. Teachers encourage and request different views and forms of expression. The richest activities are invented by teachers and students. Students create original and public products that enable them to be experts. Students take some actions as a result of their study and their learning.

Students sense that the results of their work are not predetermined or fully predictable. Historical Background Early in the s science teachers typically had no formal preparation; often they were laypersons teaching such courses as navigation, surveying, and agriculture in the first high schools. Effective preservice programs integrate science and education and often require five years. Science faculties are important ingredients in program planning, teaching, and program administration.

The preparation of an effective science teacher involves more than providing a student with up-to-date content and some generalized teaching skills. Effective programs involve master teachers, school and community leaders, and faculty members. Teacher education can be evaluated and used to improve existing programs. Effective programs should include advances in computer technology, educational psychology, philosophy, sociology, and history of science. Current Structure and Organization Most of the 1, institutions that prepare science teachers start with the assumption that an undergraduate major in one of the sciences is a must.

The study's major findings included the following: University expansion in a changing global economy: Triumph of the BRICs? Cognitive load theory and the format of instruction.

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Moving beyond GK–12

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