A Framework to Guide Science Educators’ Efforts in Confronting Misinformation

by Lara Smetana, Loyola University Chicago; Jack Gorman, Critica; Sara Gorman, Critica; & David Scales, Critica
Abstract

This article synthesizes background research, presents a framework, and shares a frequently updated resource guide (see Science Educator Response to Misinformation: Framework and Resource Collection) for science educators’ multifaceted response to science and health misinformation. We developed this framework and guide as a tool to help science teachers and teacher educators think about the complexity of the issue of science and health misinformation, visualize the connected and interrelated avenues to confront the issue, and identify opportunities to take action in their courses.

Instructional Pathways to Considering Social Dimensions Within Socioscientific Issues

by Rebecca Rawson Lesnefsky, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill; Troy Sadler, University of North Carolina; Li Ke, University of Nevada-Reno; & Pat Friedrichsen, University of Missouri
Abstract

The Socioscientific Issues Teaching and Learning (SSI-TL) framework is a guide for developing an instructional approach to learning experiences focused on socioscientific issues (SSI). Despite the potential benefits of SSI learning, teachers often struggle to implement this approach in their classrooms (Sadler et al., 2006; Saunders & Rennie, 2013), and one of the most prominent reasons for this struggle is science teacher concerns and hesitation associated with incorporating social dimensions of the issues into their instruction (Friedrichsen et al., 2021). The purpose of this article is to provide science teacher educators with tools to help teachers better manage the integration of the social dimensions of SSI in issues-based teaching. In doing so, we suggest an expansion of the SSI-TL framework such that it more explicitly highlights pathways for focusing on the social dimensions of SSI within science learning environments. These pathways emerged as a result of a joint effort with nine high school science teachers as they developed a unit related to COVID-19; however, the pathways support science teachers as they implement science learning experiences that provide opportunities to negotiate social dimensions across most SSI. The pathways include systems mapping, connecting analysis to policy positions, media literacy, and social justice. We present how following each pathway integrates the social dimension of the focal issue, an example from the COVID-19 unit, evidence of success, and future considerations for science teacher educators as they help classroom teachers adopt an SSI approach.

Preparing Preservice Teachers to Help Elementary Students Develop Persuasive Science Writing

by Keri-Anne Croce, Towson University; & Lucy Spence, University of South Carolina
Abstract

To inspire change in the world, scientists must be agile communicators who can persuade different audiences around the globe. Persuasive science writing must reflect an understanding of how culture and language influence audiences in different ways. Examples of scientific writing designed for different audiences around the globe include pamphlets describing safe masking practices or public-service announcements about climate change. Preservice teachers must prepare the next generations of scientists to think of science content in conjunction with communication. This has created a high demand for university programs to prepare preservice teachers to teach elementary students how to create persuasive science writing. The International Science Text Analysis Protocols (ISTAP) teaching methodology was designed to help preservice teachers guide elementary students to develop tools for creating persuasive science writing. This article details how university programs may use ISTAP to support preservice teachers before, during, and after school placements. As linguistic and cultural diversity within science classrooms in the United States continues to expand, students will bring diverse resources into conversations centering on persuasive science writing. As university faculty guide preservice teachers through ISTAP, they are emphasizing diversity within science classrooms and supporting equity within STEM.

From Pandemic Pivot to Community Outreach: Homeschool Students as Participants for Course-Based Field Placements

by Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University; & Maureen G. Honeychuck, Towson University
Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a pivot to online instruction for our university and the surrounding K–12 schools. The instructors of the Classroom Interactions course faced the challenge of developing an online version of a course we had never taught that included a class-based field experience. During the fall semester, we struggled to recruit secondary students to participate in preservice teacher (PST) lessons, so we invited homeschool students to participate in the spring semester. This article outlines our approach to inviting homeschool students to participate in online PST-developed lessons. We outline our approach to utilizing the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Task-Based Discussions in Science (Cartier et al., 2013) to develop lessons, and we share PST and parent feedback on the experience. Additionally, we share the lessons we learned from this experience and suggestions for other teacher educators who may be interested in inviting homeschool students to participate in PST-developed field experiences. PSTs were able to focus on their lesson objective, instruction, and discourse moves for leading productive discussions because the PSTs and students did not experience many of the typical classroom distractions or behavioral issues that can occur during in-person learning in a school setting. Teacher educators interested in having more autonomy and input into how course-based field placements are implemented are encouraged to explore options to include homeschool students in-person or virtually.

Learning About Environmental Issues With A Desktop Virtual Reality Field Trip

by Alec Bodzin, Lehigh University; Robson Araujo-Junior, Lehigh University; Chad Schwartz, Lehigh Gap Nature Center; David Anastasio, Lehigh University; Thomas Hammond, Lehigh University; & Brian Birchak, Lehigh Gap Nature Center
Abstract

This article describes a design partnership with university faculty and informal environmental educators that developed a desktop virtual-reality field trip (dVFT) to learn about the environmental changes that occurred during the past two centuries because of a zinc smelting plant operation in the Lehigh River watershed. Our watershed is historically significant because it was a driving force of the industrial revolution in the United States during the 19th century. We provide background on place-based learning and the affordances that virtual reality (VR) and VR field trips can provide for learning. We describe our design and development approach and present the resulting dVFT. We discuss how the dVFT was used in an environmental education course during a global pandemic. The course included preservice and inservice secondary science teachers. The students experienced both immersion (i.e., sensory fidelity) and presence (i.e., subjective psychological response) when using the dVFT. The dVFT served two main purposes in the course. First, it provided students who were unable to attend the optional field trip with a meaningful experience to learn about an important environmental issue and remediation process. Second, the dVFT served as a valuable foundational learning activity for students to familiarize themselves with the actual field site prior to going to the physical site location. Implications for science teacher educators interested in developing a dVFT are discussed.

Making It Personal: Focusing on Food and Using Concept Maps to Promote the Development of Environmental Identities Among Elementary Teacher Candidates

by Rachel E. Wilson, Appalachian State University
Abstract

This article explores the use of food as a focal topic in an environmentally focused curriculum course for elementary teacher candidates (ETCs) to help them personally connect to the content. Environmental topics are interdisciplinary; therefore, as we prepare ETCs to teach them, consideration of the social dimensions of science is imperative. This article discusses how the design and implementation of a unit on food allowed for exploration of elementary science and social studies environmental content with the goal of developing ETCs’ environmental identities. A focus unit on food as a daily practice that connects ETCs to the environment is described to highlight the personal salience of environmental issues and how ETCs impact and are dependent on the environment. Concept maps of daily activities that connect them to the environment were used as initial and final assessments for the course, along with an oral reflection with the instructor on their final maps. Examples of initial maps, final maps, and comments from students’ oral reflections show that ETCs deepened their understanding of how salient environmental issues were to their daily life activities, such as eating. Implications of the implementation on how to increase ETCs’ explicit connections with their identity positions relative to their experiences of and responses to environmental issues and proposed solutions are discussed.

Reflection in Action: Environmental Education Professional Development with Two Cohorts

by Lauren Madden, The College of New Jersey; Louise Ammentorp, The College of New Jersey; Eileen Heddy, The College of New Jersey; Nicole Stanton, The College of New Jersey; & Suzanne McCotter, The College of New Jersey
Abstract

This article shares lessons learned from a 2-year environmental education professional development initiative with two cohorts. Each cohort consisted of school-based teams of elementary teachers. The professional development included a series of five workshops aimed at integrating environmental education across the curriculum, and each teacher team developed and implemented a school-based project to put these ideas into practice. The project team modified their approach between Cohorts 1 and 2 based on strengths and shortcomings of the first experience. Key takeaways to inform future professional development efforts include ensuring the timeframe of the project allows teachers to build momentum in their work, recruiting teams of teachers with diverse classroom experiences, and including presenters who can offer tangible and actionable ideas to use in the classroom.

Supporting Middle and Secondary Science Teachers to Implement Sustainability-Themed Instruction

by Sheron L. Mark, PhD, University of Louisville, College of Education and Human Development, 1905 S 1st Street, Louisville, KY 40292
Abstract

In today’s society, we face many complex environmental, social, and economic challenges that can be addressed through a lens of sustainability. Furthermore, our efforts in addressing these challenges must be collective. Science education is foundational to preparing students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to engage in this work in professional and everyday capacities. This article describes a teacher education project aimed at preparing middle and secondary preservice and alternatively certified science teachers to teach through a lens of sustainability. The project was embedded within a middle and secondary science teaching methods course. Work produced by the teacher candidates, including case-study research presentations and week-long instructional plans, is described.

Supporting Schoolyard Pedagogy in Elementary Methods Courses

by Kelly Feille, University of Oklahoma; & Stephanie Hathcock, Oklahoma State University
Abstract

Schoolyard pedagogy illustrates the theories, methods, and practices of teaching that extend beyond the four walls of a classroom and capitalize on the teaching tools available in the surrounding schoolyard. In this article, we describe the schoolyard pedagogy framework, which includes intense pedagogical experiences, opportunities and frequent access, and continuous support. We then provide an overview of how we are intentionally working toward developing schoolyard pedagogy in elementary preservice teachers at two universities. This includes providing collaborative experiences in the university schoolyard and nearby schools, individual experiences in nature, opportunities to see the possibilities in local schoolyards, and lesson planning that utilizes the schoolyard. We also discuss potential barriers and catalysts for schoolyard pedagogy during the induction years, future needs, and potential for continuous support.

Using Critical Case Studies to Cultivate Inservice Teachers’ Critical Science Consciousness

by Lenora M. Crabtree, University of North Carolina Charlotte; & Michelle Stephan, University of North Carolina Charlotte
Abstract

Culturally relevant and responsive science instruction includes support of students’ socio-political, or critical, consciousness. A lack of experience with marginalization, and limited attention to critical perspectives in science content and methods courses, however, may leave educators ill-equipped to address intersections of diversity, equity, and science instruction. Curriculum is needed that supports critical consciousness development among science teachers and their students. We describe an innovation, a critical inquiry case study, designed to address this essential facet of culturally relevant pedagogy. Design research methodology guided our development of an interrupted, historical case study employed as part of a four-day professional development workshop for secondary science teachers. In addition to provoking critical awareness and agency, the case study was designed to highlight ways that science itself may create or perpetuate inequities, or serve as a tool for liberation, a content-specific construct we call critical science consciousness. Implementation of the critical case study and participating teachers’ interactions with case materials are described. In addition, we highlight learning goals developed to support critical science consciousness and provide insights into ways teachers exhibited growth in each area. Teachers report heightened understanding of the role science plays in perpetuating inequities, transformations in ways they think about systemic inequities that impact students and families, and growing awareness of the possibilities inherent in teaching science for liberation.