With Every ‘Goodbye’ Comes a New ‘Hello’!

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Hermann, R.S., & Miranda, R.J. (2020) Final editorial. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(4). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/goodbye-hello-editorial/

by Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University; & Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University

We first heard about a new journal to be published through ASTE at the beginning of 2015. We were excited to hear that there was a group of ASTE members working on developing a practitioner journal to accompany ASTE’s other journals, Journal of Science Teacher Education (JSTE) and Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (CITE). We enthusiastically developed and submitted our application materials in the Fall of 2015 and underwent a few rounds of interviews before being offered the position. We fondly remember signing the contract at the beginning of December 2015 indicating that our term would begin on January 1, 2016, though we felt like we had already been at work on the journal for several months as we developed our vision and timeline of the journal for our application materials. A few days after our official start as editors, we were tasked with talking about Innovations in Science Teacher Education on January 7 at the 2016 Annual Conference of the Association for Science Teacher Education Conference in Reno, Nevada. We described our vision of the journal to full room of ASTE members. We received a lot of specific questions about the journal and had to remind the audience we had really only been on the job for 7 days, but we heard some great ideas and given the size of the audience we were reassured there was great interest in a practitioner journal for science teacher educators.

Six months later, after receiving a fair number of submissions, the inaugural issue of Innovations in Science Teacher Education was published on July 1, 2016. Looking back on our time as editors we are proud of what we accomplished considering that when we signed the contract, the Innovations journal was just an idea. We worked with John Rhea to build the Innovations journal website and submission and review portals. We developed and disseminated calls for both reviewers and authors. Over time, we developed a more concrete description of what an Innovations article is and what it is not. And we’ve tried, through editorials and in-person discussions, to convey our philosophy of what encompasses a practitioner article for science educators.

We have had absolutely fantastic editorial review boards for the last five years. These dedicated ASTE members have provided solid reviews and submitted them in a timely manner. Moreover, the editorial review board members continue to express that they genuinely enjoy reading the manuscripts they receive. Many of our reviewers are also published authors in Innovations providing an even greater level of understanding of the journal and the review process. As a result, our reviewers provide informative feedback to enhance submissions and facilitate author revisions.

Likewise, the authors have been impressive with their approaches to science education and the innovative manuscripts they submit have piqued the interest of reviewers and ultimately Innovations readers. We have had the pleasure of hearing so many stories from science educators about how they adapted or modified their instruction after reading a particular article. Indeed, we had felt and done the same. It has been rewarding to hear how the journal has influenced people’s instructional decision making over the last five years.

In some ways, the journal is just getting started and there are so many opportunities ahead to add additional features. But, alas, our time as co-editors is coming to a close and this is the final editorial before the new editor(s) transition into the role. So, we want to once again thank everyone: the ASTE members who had the vision and initiative to develop and launch the journal, the ASTE boards who have supported the journal, the authors, reviewers, and readers. We could not have done it without the guidance of the ASTE publication committee and John Rhea, the ASTE Director of Electronic Services.

In the words of Winnie the Pooh, we are “lucky to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” While we are sad to be stepping down from the role of Innovations editors, we are glad to be able to help the next editor’s transition into the role. Over the last five years we have put a lot of time and energy into the journal and have had countless conversations about all aspects of the journal. We have gotten to know a lot of great people through this journal and we will miss the daily interactions with authors and reviewers.

We leave the journal in a good place. Submissions continue to increase and the number of articles per issue is on the rise. The quality of manuscripts continue to be impressive and the thoughtfulness of reviews continue to encourage us about the willingness of our peers to support one another in their scholarly endeavors.

It has truly been our honor and our pleasure serving the ASTE community as co-editors and we wish the next editor(s) that are selected all the best and continued success.

Sincerely,

Ron Hermann & Rommel Miranda

Innovative Social Justice

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Miranda, R.J., & Hermann, R.S. (2020). Innovative social justice. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(3). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/innovative-social-justice/

by Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University; & Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University

As editors of the Innovations in Science Teacher Education journal, we stand united with the Minneapolis community and with individuals across our nation calling for accountability and justice. We also echo the sentiments of the ASTE presidential team toward the need to disrupt systemic racism, to promote social justice, and to increase our organization’s commitment and focus on equity (https://theaste.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Letter-from-ASTE-Presidential-Team.pdf).

As a community of science teacher educators, we hold a special responsibility to condemn the violence against people of color and other marginalized groups. It is up to all of us to lead, to model civility and respect, and to hold true to our values of equity, diversity and inclusion that support our community to thrive. Together as agents of change, we can help to address systemic/institutional racism by preparing and providing preservice and inservice teachers with opportunities to integrate social justice into the curriculum so that we can collectively help to create a more humane and equitable world.

In support the ASTE’s commitment and focus on equity, we invite and encourage you to share your expertise with our community by submitting manuscripts that provide detailed descriptions of how to address systemic/institutional racism in science teacher education and how to integrate social justice into the curriculum of inservice teacher preparation course or inservice teacher professional development programs. We also encourage members to submit manuscripts that describe resources and tools that they have created and/or used that have been valuable in their efforts to address historical and social inequities in your work as a teacher of science.

As a reference, the following links are articles in the Innovations journal that center on inclusive science teacher education, the preparation of teachers for diverse classrooms, the integration of culturally relevant practices, and the preparation of English language learners:

https://innovations.theaste.org/innovative-inclusive-science-teacher-education/

https://innovations.theaste.org/science-units-of-study-with-a-language-lens-preparing-teachers-for-diverse-classrooms/

https://innovations.theaste.org/food-pedagogy-as-an-instructional-resource-in-a-science-methods-course/

https://innovations.theaste.org/preparation-of-teachers-of-science-for-english-language-learners/

We look forward to receiving your innovative work on social justice! For more information about how to submit a manuscript to the Innovations in Science Teacher Education journal, please visit our website: https://innovations.theaste.org/about/

Is Innovations a Predatory Journal?

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Hermann, R.S., & Miranda, R.J. (2020). Is innovations a predatory journal? Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(2). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/is-innovations-a-predatory-journal/

by Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University; & Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University

It has been almost a daily occurrence lately that we have been asked to submit a manuscript to an unfamiliar journal or join their editorial review board. We are sure you receive similar requests. You know, the one where they recite your title and abstract and tell you that based on that work you would be qualified to publish in, or review for, the journal whose content is not even distantly related to your article. On occasion curiosity has gotten the best of us and we’ve played along. We read the request and look for any signs that this could be a legitimate outlet for our scholarly work. We conduct a search for the editor’s name, if one is supplied in the email. We have clicked on the list of reviewers to see if we knew any by name or at least the institution with whom they are associated. Some of these requests may be legitimate, but with the concerns over predatorial journals growing, we are thankful that the field of science education has a wealth of reputable journals. We’d like to believe that the temptation to submit manuscripts or agree to review for questionable journals is lower among science educators than our colleagues in other fields.

It is nice to know that most of the journals we are familiar with are led by an editorial staff with whom we are familiar. Moreover, we are pleased to know the reviewers are also our colleagues and that we can count on seeing them at conferences and other events. Many we know personally, and we rest well knowing that the peer review process for science education rests upon a firm foundation of science educators. Sadly, that must not be true for all disciplines, resulting in the temptation to publish in, and review for, less reputable journals (Van Noorden, 2020).

For a more complete discussion of why defining predatory publishing can be difficult to define and what makes a journal reputable see Grudniewicz et al. (2019). They developed the following definition:

“Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.”

Thankfully, the majority of journals we know of in the field are linked to an organization like the ASTE whose primary interest is in its’ members and science educators at large. What is different for Innovations and a few other science education journals, is that we are not linked to a publishing company. That has created some benefits and some challenges. When it comes to overseeing the journal, we can’t rely on support from a publishing company and we may come close to being confused with a predatory journal as Innovations could be defined as an under-resourced journal (Van Noorden, 2020). Without the funding support generated by a publishing company we rely completely on in-house resources. With the help of our amazing reviewers, it’s us, Ron and Rommel, who receive submissions, screen submissions, assign submissions to reviewers, read and collate reviews, solicit editorial review board members, edit manuscripts for publication, and the list goes on.

So, when we saw this meme on a popular social media page, we couldn’t help but laugh – not for the intended purpose, but because it could not be further from the reality of Innovations. We don’t have submission portal – it is us – we receive every email and inquiry. We read and reply to every email and we try to do so quickly. We can tell you the exact status of your manuscript at any point in time. We don’t laugh when you contact us, but we are concerned when you do. We try our best to have external reviews back in 4-6 weeks and decision letters out to authors soon after we receive the last review. And we have done a great job of doing so to this point. But we continue to need your help. Innovations truly is a journal by ASTE for ASTE and we need ASTE members to join the Editorial Review Board to ensure high quality manuscript are published. You, the ASTE member, that is the resource that helps establish Innovations as a legitimate, impactful journal for science educators.

We can think of no better way to thwart the proliferation of predatory journals than to ensure that journals like Innovations are supported by the community who benefits most from them. With a thriving membership with the willingness to serve as reviewers and editors, we can ensure that authors and reviewers have a positive experience. When quality, innovative manuscripts are submitted, reviewers enjoy reading those manuscripts and providing their insights to make the submissions even stronger. Likewise, authors benefit from quality reviews that enhance their work and when reviews are submitted in a timely fashion, authors can count on having a decision within 2 months of their submission. As we prepare to step down as editors of Innovations in Science Teacher Education, we hope ASTE members will consider serving the organization by serving as editorial review board members and apply for the editor position. We are proud of the work we have done to get Innovations up and running and to establish the journal as a well-regarded and impactful venue for science educators to share their work.  We are not a predatorial journal, but we will borrow from their practices and send out frequent, but targeted requests to serve as ERB members, and soon as editors. Who knows, maybe this tactic so haphazardly used by predatorial journals may actually work and we will be a stronger journal as a result.

References

Grudnieicz A. et al. (2019). Predatory journals: No definition, no defence. Nature 576, 210-212. doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-03759-y

Van Noorden. (2020). Hundreds of scientists have peer-reviewed for predatory journals. Nature. doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00709-x

Preparation of Teachers of Science for English Language Learners

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Miranda, R.J., & Hermann, R.S. (2020). Preparation of teachers of science for English language learners. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(1). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/preparation-of-teachers-of-science-for-english-language-learners/

by Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University; & Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University

Happy New Year! According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (2019) (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgf.asp), the percentage of public school students in the United States who were English Language Learners (ELL) was higher in 2016 (9.6 percent, or 4.9 million students) than in 2000 (8.1 percent, or 3.8 million students). The percentage of students who were ELLs was higher for school districts in more urbanized areas than for those in less urbanized areas, and based on locale, ELLs constituted an average of 14.0 percent of total public school enrollment in cities, 9.3 percent in suburban areas, 6.5 percent in towns, and 3.8 percent in rural areas. Regarding science performance (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cne.asp), the average science scores for ELLs in grade 4, grade 8, and grade 12 were lower than their non-ELLs peers’ scores, with an achievement gap between non-ELLs and ELLs of 36 points, 46 points, and 152 points, respectively (NCES, 2017).

In light of these statistics, schools, districts, and states are challenged to deliver high-quality instruction to ELLs (NSF, 2006). It is also essential that educators who teach science are prepared to ensure that all students, including ELLs, have opportunities to learn and excel in science. Additionally, the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Standards (2006) promote academic language proficiency in science and supports pedagogical approaches for integrating language acquisition and science learning. Moreover, research has shown that effective teacher preparation and professional development results in positive change in teachers’ beliefs and practices in integrating science and literacy for ELLs (Buck, Mast, Ehlers, & Franklin, 2005; Hart & Lee 2003; Stoddart, Pinal, Latzke, & Canaday, 2002).

Accordingly, the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) recommends in their Position Statement on Science for ELLs that teacher preparation and professional development programs focus on science content and pedagogy for ELLs and help teachers (https://www.nsta.org/about/positions/ell.aspx):

  • recognize and build on ELL students’ “funds of knowledge” (i.e., knowledge students gain from their family and cultural backgrounds) as a foundation for learning scientific ideas and practices;
  • recognize that students who are learning English or who are from cultural and linguistic backgrounds different from the teachers’ background may express what they know in ways that are unfamiliar to their teachers;
  • use instructional strategies that simultaneously promote science learning and English proficiency for ELLs; and
  • meet regularly with fellow teachers to share ideas, experiences, tasks, and materials that are effective in teaching science to ELLs.

The Innovations journal is continuously in need of fresh new perspectives on preservice science teacher education and professional development programs that focus on science for ELLs. The Innovations journal provides a place for science teacher educators to share detailed descriptions of how their science for ELL programs or professional development programming is conducted. Innovative science for ELLs activities are also essential for science teacher educators and classroom teachers, as both attempt to improve science teaching and learning. Thus, we encourage science teacher educators, scientists, science coordinators and supervisors, and informal science educators who prepare and provide professional development for teachers of science at all grade levels to share their innovative ideas with our international science education community through the Innovations journal.

Innovations is the official peer-reviewed online practitioner journal of the ASTE that serves as a forum for disseminating effective instructional practices that are innovative and inspirational. So, take some time right now to reflect back on the innovative aspects of your science for ELL programs for science teachers. Do you have an innovative idea to share with your colleagues? Consider sharing your ideas and lessons learned with colleagues by submitting a manuscript describing your outstanding work with preservice and inservice science teachers!

Also, be sure to check out our website to learn more about publishing in Innovations in Science Teacher Education by using the following link: https://innovations.theaste.org. Please be sure to review the instructions for authors section prior to submitting to ensure that your manuscript adheres to format guidelines and addresses each criterion. We look forward to receiving your manuscripts and want to thank everyone who is, and will be, participating in the submission and review of manuscripts. We hope that you have an amazing 2020!

 

References

Buck, G. A., Mast, C., Ehlers, N., & Franklin, E. (2005). Preparing teachers to create a mainstream science classroom conducive to the needs of English language learners: A feminist action research project. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42, 1013–1031.

Hart, J., & Lee, O. (2003). Teacher professional development to improve science and literacy achievement of English language learners. Bilingual Research Journal, 27, 475–501.

Stoddart, T., Pinal, A., Latzke, M., and Canaday, D. (2002). Integrating inquiry science and language development for English language learners. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39, 664–687.

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2019). English language learners in public schools. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgf.asp

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2019). Science performance. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cne.asp

National Science Foundation (NSF). (2006). Science and engineering indicators. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation

National Science Teaching Association. (2019). Position statement: Science for English language learners. https://www.nsta.org/about/positions/ell.aspx

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). (2006). PreK–12 English language proficiency standards. Alexandria, VA: TESOL.

Innovative Clinical Field Experiences for Teachers of Science

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Hermann, R. S., & Miranda, R. J. (2019). Innovative clinical field experiences for teachers of science. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 4(4). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/innovative-clinical-field-experiences-for-teachers-of-science/

by Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University; & Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University

The university-affiliated morning radio hosts recently interviewed the proprietors of a local distillery. Among the questions the hosts asked their guests was how they choose what category within a given type of spirit to distill. Their answer was something that resonated with us, and something we often hear from Innovations reviewers. They choose to distill the spirits that they enjoy consuming the most. Similarly, we certainly enjoy receiving all of the manuscripts that are submitted to Innovations, but especially those that are most pertinent to our particular setting. We do our best to match manuscripts to reviewers with expertise in the subject and, for that reason, the vast majority of the feedback that we receive from reviewers is that they also enjoy the manuscripts they review.

So, one of the things we have been thinking a lot about lately, is something we would also really enjoy hearing more about from other science educators. Admittedly, our university does not use the most innovative approaches to one of the most critical aspects of secondary preservice teacher education – clinical experiences. Regardless of the terms used over the years to describe the full-time experiences preservice teachers receive by working with a mentor teacher every school day for several weeks in a semester, this experience can have profound and lasting effects on preservice teachers, both positive and negative. We have been a UTeach replication site for quite a few years now and our students receive more time in the classroom than they ever have before. However, we continue to hear feedback from students that regardless of the amount of time they spend in schools prior to student teaching, nothing prepares them for the rigors of full-time student teaching. We wonder how other institutions prepare interns for full-time student teaching and whether interns spend more than one semester working daily with mentor teachers.

Our institution is one of the few universities nationwide to have a significant number of education faculty housed in its science content departments. While our university has a Center for Professional Practice (CPP) that oversees the placement and coordination of the over 400 K-12 student teachers across all disciplines each academic year, science education faculty serve as supervisors of secondary science education majors. At our institution the CPP places each student with a middle school and a high school mentor teachers and the university supervisor or the student’s academic advisor is not really involved in the process. Other institutions employ a more purposeful pairing of intern to mentor teacher based on feedback and insight from numerous people who interact with the intern. It has recently become more apparent the extent to which our approaches to supporting student teachers varies across our university from department to department and across colleges within the university. Despite those variances, the approaches are fairly traditional in the sense that we are certain the majority of universities use similar approaches.

On the other hand, our preservice early childhood and elementary education internship and methodology courses consist of a broad array of innovations, which include switching focus to the NGSS science and engineering practices (and modifying them, if necessary, for early childhood), creating new field placement lessons, weekly teaching of science and/or engineering lessons, coaching from the classroom mentor teacher, lesson planning under the supervision of the course instructor, and methods/content discussions and activities. We also know that some of our colleagues have implemented more innovative approaches to clinical experiences, such as remote observations using the latest audio and visual technology, pairing two interns with one mentor teacher, requiring interns to teach less so they can devote more time to planning, and likely a host of approaches we have yet to hear about. Some of our colleagues observe entire lessons from start to finish whether the class is 45 minutes or 90 minutes long. Others observe more frequently for shorter periods of time, often with a specific aspect of the lesson as the focus of the observation.

If you read many of these editorials, by now you know where we are going with this. We feel science educators will be responsive to hearing about innovative approaches and we urge those of you implementing such approaches to share them with our colleagues through Innovations in Science Teacher Education. It’s not that we don’t want to implement innovative approaches at our institution, so much as it is that we know there are a lot of barriers to change, both internally and externally. Thus, those who have worked with colleagues across your campus, local school systems, state departments of education, and/or higher education commissions are in a position to inform others hoping to adopt approaches that may better support either more interns or support interns to a greater extent than more traditional approaches may permit. Perhaps we are alone in our desire to learn more about innovative practices for clinical experience in science education, but if we are not, and your manuscript is shared with colleagues, you just might find someone so thankful they buy you a glass of your favorite spirit or beverage at the next ASTE conference!

Preparation of Teachers of Science for Laboratory Safety

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Miranda, R.J., & Hermann, R.S. (2019). Preparation of teachers of science for laboratory safety. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 4(3). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/preparation-of-teachers-of-science-for-laboratory-safety/

by Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University; & Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University

Although numerous articles suggest that it is essential for teachers of science to provide students with opportunities to carry out scientific investigations, the potential for student injury is inherent within laboratory-based activities. Teachers of science often carry out scientific investigations in a laboratory, a classroom, or an outdoor setting and are expected to provide a learning environment that is as safe as possible for students. However, teachers of science may be held liable if they do not make their instructional spaces a safe place to learn. Many science educators that we know have often expressed that they only briefly learned about laboratory safety within their content courses, that they are concerned about having outdated or insufficient laboratory facilities, that students might not follow safety directions and harm themselves or others, or that it is challenging to facilitate scientific investigations especially when students have questions requiring their attention. Additionally, school administrators and supervisors often make the assumption that the science teachers that they hire are properly trained in the specialty they are to teach and possess sufficient knowledge to meet their duty of care. Just take a moment right now to reflect upon when you first started to teach laboratory-based activities and think about the following questions: How were you prepared for ensuring laboratory safety in your instructional spaces? Were your adequately prepared to create and maintain a safe learning environment for your students?

To address concerns regarding laboratory safety, the position statements of organizations such as NSTA (Liability of Science Educators for Laboratory Safety), NSELA (Safety Position Statement), and the Council of State Science Supervisors (Science Safety: Making the Connection) provide teachers of science with recommendations for providing and maintaining a learning and working environment for students and staff that is as safe as possible. These organizations suggest that science educators should adhere to better professional practices and legal safety standards, and be proactive in ensuring that school and district leaders know and are adhering to safety expectations. However, the position statements of these organizations further provide declarations that urge science education leaders to help prepare teachers of science to meet their legal duty of care owed to students.

In light of these declarations, the Innovations in Science Teacher Education journal is continuously in need of fresh new perspectives on how we can better prepare teachers of science for laboratory safety. The Innovations journal provides a place for science teacher educators to share detailed descriptions of how their laboratory safety preparation programs or professional development programming is conducted. Laboratory safety is essential for science teacher educators and classroom teachers, as both attempt to improve science teaching and student learning through laboratory-based activities. Thus, we encourage science teacher educators, scientists, science coordinators and supervisors, school administrators and superintendents, and informal science educators who prepare and provide professional development for teachers of science at all grade levels, especially at the elementary level, to share their innovative ideas with our international science education community through the Innovations journal.

Innovations is the official peer-reviewed online practitioner journal of the ASTE that serves as a forum for disseminating effective instructional practices that are innovative and inspirational. So, take some time right now to reflect back on the innovative aspects of your laboratory safety programs for science educators. Do you have an innovative idea to share with your colleagues? Consider sharing your ideas and lessons learned with colleagues by submitting a manuscript describing your outstanding work with preservice and inservice science teachers!

Also, be sure to check out our website to learn more about publishing in Innovations in Science Teacher Education by using the following link: https://innovations.theaste.org. Please be sure to review the instructions for authors section prior to submitting to ensure that your manuscript adheres to format guidelines and addresses each criterion. We look forward to receiving your manuscripts and want to thank everyone who is, and will be, participating in the submission and review of manuscripts. We hope that you have an amazing summer!

Where Have All The Science Teacher Candidates Gone?

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Hermann, R.S., & Miranda, R.J. (2019). Where have all the science teacher candidates gone? Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 4(2). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/where-have-all-the-science-teacher-candidates-gone/

by Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University; & Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University

It is a scenario that has played out many times in many different ways over the last year or two. A phone call from a science supervisor in a surrounding county. An email from a principal. A discussion with a department chair while observing a student teacher. A former student sending a text message. An increasingly familiar question is often asked of us. Do you have any science education majors who will be graduating soon? Our answer has increasingly been that we do not have many science education students graduating and certainly not enough to fill all of the vacancies indicated by the number of requests we receive.

We know we are not alone and our institution is not the only one experiencing an enrollment decline in teacher education programs. Recent data shows enrollments in teacher education programs across the nation dropped from 691,000 to 451,000, a 35% reduction between 2009 and 2014 (Sutcher, Darling-Hammond, & Carver-Thomas, 2016). Also, the number of both bachelor’s and master’s degrees awarded in education has declined while the number in all fields has increased (Will, 2018). Moreover, only 2% of aspiring teachers are science education majors (Will, 2018).

The purpose of this editorial is not to explore the reasons for the decline in teacher education programs or to share our thoughts on what can be done to recruit and retain science education majors. Rather, we know many of you are working towards the same goal and many of you have made advances in your efforts. Whether these advances have come from individual efforts, departmental efforts, or university-wide efforts we know that many of our colleagues are engaged in fruitful work. Some of that work has been funded by internal or external sources and some of that work has not.

The times are changing and for many reasons the number of students attracted to science education majors is declining across the nation. To address this decline, innovative strategies and programs are needed that are aligned to the current political, economic, technological, and social climate. More than ever before, your colleagues may be interested in hearing the work that you have been doing to address declining enrollment.

We are writing this editorial to request that those working to attract more students to science teacher education programs consider sharing your innovative work and lessons learned along the way. Innovations in Science Teacher Education provides an outlet for compiling strategies for recruiting and retaining science education majors across disciplines. Some science disciplines have a more developed history of successfully recruiting and retaining majors, most notably physics education. The PhysTEC program, funded by NSF, has a very successful history of increasing the number of physics teachers and have reported on their successes (Sandifer & Brewe, 2015). Many of the successes of the PhysTEC program can be implemented with other science disciplines, but those outside of physics education research circles may not be familiar with this work. Innovations is a practitioner journal for science educators and an appropriate place to publish your work directed towards addressing the declining enrollment in science-specific teacher education programs at the PK-12 grade levels.

Science teacher educators cannot successfully address declining enrollment in our programs individually or within our institutions. We need to share strategies with one another to slow or reverse declining enrollment numbers. Our graduates often stay local, but often cross state lines to begin their science teaching careers in other states. Thus, the global nature of this issue can better be addressed when science teacher educators work together to help one another grow and strengthen teacher education programs. We believe the Innovations journal can serve as a central depository for sharing information on successful programs that have adapted in innovative ways to address the science teacher shortage. While we have yet to publish a special issue, there may be no topic that is worthier of a dedicated issue than manuscripts that address the issue of declining science teacher education candidates. Please consider submitting a manuscript that describes the work you have done to address this issue.

References

Sandifer, C. & Brewe, E. (2015). Recruiting and educating future physics teachers: Case studies and effective practices. College Park, MD: American Physical Society.

Sutcher, L., Darling-Hammond, L., & Carver-Thomas, D. (2016). A coming crisis in teaching? Teacher supply, demand, and shortages in the U.S. Palo Alto. CA: Learning Policy Institute.

Will, M. (2018). Enrollment is down at teacher colleges. So they’re trying to change. Education Week, 38(1), 6. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/08/09/enrollment-is-down-at-teacher-colleges-so.html

Innovative Environmental and Sustainability Science Teacher Education

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Miranda, R.J., & Hermann, R.S. (2019). Innovative environmental and sustainability science teacher education. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 4(1). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/innovative-environmental-and-sustainability-science-teacher-education/

by Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University; & Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University

Happy New Year! Reflecting on our current political “climate” over the past couple of years, we believe that it is timely to reaffirm the importance of the ASTE’s Position Statement on Environmental and Sustainability Education (https://theaste.org/aste-position-statement-on-environmental-and-sustainability-education/). The ASTE strongly supports the inclusion of environmental education in science teacher education as a way to instill environmental literacy and sustainability in our nation’s preK-16 students. Environmental and sustainability education in science teacher education is critical because informed decisions regarding the future of our planet depend upon an environmentally literate citizenry. Accordingly, the ASTE has made the following declaration:

  • ASTE urges science teacher educators to prepare teachers that have understandings, skills, and attitudes necessary to be environmentally literate.
  • Environmental education provides interdisciplinary, multicultural, and multiple viewpoints to promote awareness and understandings of a global environment.
  • Environmental education provides a balance between environmental, economic, ecological, and social perspectives to sustain future needs.
  • Environmental education provides an opportunity to foster learning through nonformal and formal learning centers such as aquariums, museums, nature centers, zoos, and government or community agencies.
  • Appropriate use of technologies should be used to enhance environmental experiences and understandings.
  • Science teacher education should emphasize content, pedagogy, and instructional planning that promotes environmental literacy, an important component of scientific literacy.
  • Science teacher educators can foster inquiry by taking students outside and encouraging them to ask questions and explore their local environment.
  • Environmental education involves becoming an active participant in local communities. In this way, science teacher educators can provide opportunities for teachers to develop personal connections through ownership and empowerment. Some examples of environmental community projects that promote sustainability include recycling, planting native plants, open space planning, and green building.

In light of the ASTE’s declarations, the Innovations journal is continuously in need of fresh new perspectives on innovative environmental and sustainability science teacher education and professional development. The Innovations journal provides a place for science teacher educators to share detailed descriptions of how their environmental and sustainability science teacher education programs or professional development programming is conducted. Innovative environmental and sustainability science teacher activities are also essential for science teacher educators and classroom teachers, as both attempt to improve science teaching and learning. Thus, we encourage science teacher educators, scientists, science coordinators and supervisors, and informal science educators who prepare and provide professional development for teachers of science at all grade levels to share their innovative ideas with our international science education community through the Innovations journal.


Innovations is the official peer-reviewed online practitioner journal of the ASTE that serves as a forum for disseminating effective instructional practices that are innovative and inspirational. So, take some time right now to reflect back on the innovative aspects of your environmental and sustainability programs for science teachers. Do you have an innovative idea to share with your colleagues? Consider sharing your ideas and lessons learned with colleagues by submitting a manuscript describing your outstanding work with preservice and inservice science teachers!

Also, be sure to check out our website to learn more about publishing in Innovations in Science Teacher Education by using the following link: https://innovations.theaste.org. Please be sure to review the instructions for authors section prior to submitting to ensure that your manuscript adheres to format guidelines and addresses each criterion. We look forward to receiving your manuscripts and want to thank everyone who is, and will be, participating in the submission and review of manuscripts. We hope that you have an amazing 2019!

If you have any questions regarding the Innovations journal, please contact Rommel Miranda (Rmiranda@towson.edu) or Ron Hermann (Rhermann@towson.edu).

 

What’s in a Name? – Science Teachers or Teachers of Science

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Hermann, R.S., & Miranda, R.J. (2018). What’s in a name? – Science teachers or teachers of science. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 3(4). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/whats-in-a-name-science-teachers-or-teachers-of-science/

by Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University; & Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University

For all the progress made towards inclusion, perhaps we, science educators, have been exclusionary from the start. The title of this journal, and its parent organization, both contain the phrase science teacher. Many of the other organizations and journals we read also contain the phrase science teacher. But, not everyone who teaches science may identify themselves as a science teacher. Some who teach science may be far from thinking of themselves as science teachers because science may be one of many subjects they teach. Others may not be formal teachers in the sense that they may not teach science to a group of students in a classroom setting. Still others involved in the work of teacher preparation who are involved with the content of science in some way, but may also have other content responsibilities beyond science.

Indeed, in our own scholarly work, we often write about teaching science at the elementary level. We often noted the awkwardness of referring to elementary teachers as science teachers. Yes, they teach science. And, yes, many are really good at teaching science. But, even those elementary teachers who are most enthusiastic about teaching science may not identify as a science teacher in favor of viewing themselves as an elementary teacher or a teacher of children.

As we focus on science teachers in our publications, conference presentations, and classrooms, are we excluding teachers who do not view themselves as science teachers? At our university for example, undergraduates enrolled in the middle school teacher education program specialize in two of four possible areas: language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. So, a student who is specializing in science and social studies may view themselves as both a science teacher and a social studies teacher. Or maybe they view themselves as a middle school teacher. Our colleagues who work as science specialists and supervisors in local school districts may no longer teach science as their focus has turned to supporting those who do. Are we alienating them when we direct our focus towards science teachers?

We are not suggesting that we must hastily change the names of organizations and journals, but we can give some thought to how we discuss who and what we teach and research. Teachers of science seems to include a wider range of people compared to science teachers. Even if one teaches science during one of eight class sections one is still a teacher of science, though they may not view themselves as a science teacher if the other sections are social studies. Can we include these educators in our teaching, research and service more effectively if we focus on teachers of science? Will these teachers feel more connected to science if we refer to them as teachers of science? We can’t say for certain, but we would very much like to hear your thoughts. You can contact us directly or engage this community of science teacher educators in the discussion on our Facebook page.

Innovative Inclusive Science Teacher Education

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Miranda, R.J., & Hermann, R.S. (2018). Innovative inclusive science teacher education. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 3(3). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/innovative-inclusive-science-teacher-education/

by Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University; & Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University

Much of what science teachers are expected to know and be able to do is quite extensive. Highly-qualified science teachers are expected to have knowledge of science, inquiry, scientific practices, science pedagogy, curriculum, instruction, assessment, student learning, and student cognition. Equally, much is expected from science teacher educators who prepare preservice and inservice science teachers to possess the knowledge, skills, experiences, attitudes, and habits of mind essential to be a successful science teacher.

Currently, inclusion is a topic that is receiving more and more attention in science education research and science teacher education. As such, science teachers are now expected to know much about inclusion. However, inclusion is often an elusive term for both preservice and inservice teachers. And although science teachers commonly limit inclusion to the perspective of special education, inclusion encompasses a much broader view, which includes second language learning, diversity, underrepresented student populations, culturally relevant pedagogy, and intercultural pedagogy.

“Diversity and inclusion, while commonly conflated, are not the same. Inclusion speaks to whether individuals have equal access to opportunities and empowerment” (Bumpus, 2015). Similarly, Pratt (1997) expresses that inclusion is a belief that all students, regardless of labels, should be members of the general education community, and that students with and without disabilities should have access to the full range of curriculum options. Additionally, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute states that inclusive excellence emphasizes improving the students’ environment and to help schools find ways to significantly increase their capacity for inclusion so that students from all backgrounds — especially those from groups underrepresented in science — can excel. The Yale Center for Teaching and Learning provides the following statement on the topic:

“An inclusive classroom climate refers to an environment where all students feel supported intellectually and academically, and are extended a sense of belonging in the classroom. Inclusive classroom environments are sustained when instructors and students work together for thoughtfulness, respect, and academic excellence. Inclusive teaching strategies further strive to serve the needs of all students, regardless of background or identity. It builds upon an instructor’s basic instinct to ensure that all students can participate fully in the learning process, while expanding perspectives through stimulating discussion and new approaches to traditional and contemporary issues.”

Moreover, the ASTE Position Statement on the Inclusion of Underserved Populations in Science Education urges all educators to highlight integration and inclusion for all students, and further provides seven noteworthy goals for science educators:

  1. to insure that instructional adaptations are made to allow for students with physical disabilities to participate fully in laboratory and outdoor learning opportunities.
  2. to access new technology for students with physical disabilities enabling them to participate in all facets of the instructional program by becoming informed about emerging technologies and acquiring these tools for student use during instruction.
  3. to serve as advocates for underserved students to insure they are not advised to take classes which minimize the need for adaptations, special modification, or instructional accommodations within the instructional setting.
  4. to provide opportunities for all students to socialize informally in and out of the classroom.
  5. to create a caring, supporting atmosphere that tolerates and welcomes a wide range of student diversity.
  6. to foster cooperative learning activities rather than competitive or individual tasks.
  7. to provide opportunities for peer interaction, multi-age grouping, and group cohesiveness.

Thus in view of inclusion, science teacher educators will need to know how to develop various ways to engage preservice and inservice teachers with various dimensions of diversity, as well as best inclusive teaching strategies and practices in science education classrooms. Science teacher educators will also need to provide preservice and inservice teachers with guidance for the development of inclusive science curricula.

Accordingly, the Innovations journal is continuously in need of fresh new perspectives on innovative inclusive science teacher education and inclusive professional development. The Innovations journal provides a place for science teacher educators to share detailed descriptions of how their inclusive science teacher education programs or inclusive professional development programming is conducted. Innovative inclusive science teacher activities are also essential for science teacher educators and classroom teachers, as both attempt to improve science teaching and learning. Thus, we encourage science teacher educators, scientists, science coordinators and supervisors, and informal science educators who prepare and provide professional development for teachers of science at all grade levels to share their innovative ideas with our international science education community through the Innovations journal.

Innovations is the official peer-reviewed online practitioner journal of the ASTE that serves as a forum for disseminating effective instructional practices that are innovative and inspirational. Be sure to check out our website to learn more about publishing in Innovations in Science Teacher Education by using the following link: https://innovations.theaste.org. Please be sure to review the instructions for authors section prior to submitting to ensure that your manuscript adheres to format guidelines and addresses each criterion. We look forward to receiving your manuscripts and want to thank everyone who is, and will be, participating in the submission and review of manuscripts.

If you have any questions regarding the Innovations journal, please contact Rommel Miranda (Rmiranda@towson.edu) or Ron Hermann (Rhermann@towson.edu).