Eliciting and Refining Conceptions of STEM Education: A Series of Activities for Professional Development

by Emily A. Dare, Florida International University; & Elizabeth A. Ring-Whalen, St. Catherine University

Integrated STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education is becoming increasingly common in K–12 classrooms. However, various definitions of STEM education exist that make it challenging for teachers to know what to implement and how to do so in their classrooms. In this article, we describe a series of activities used in a week-long professional development workshop designed to elicit K–12 teachers’ conceptions of STEM and the roles that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics play in STEM education. These activities not only engage teachers in conversations with peers and colleagues in a professional development setting but also enable teachers to reflect on their learning related to STEM education in the context of creating lesson plans and considering future teaching. In addition to describing these activities, we share suggestions related to how these activities may be used in venues outside of professional development.

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

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.

A 20-year Journey in Elementary and Early Childhood Science and Engineering Education: A Cycle of Reflection, Refinement, and Redesign

by Cody Sandifer, Towson University; Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue, Towson University; & Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University

Over the past two decades, science and engineering education faculty at Towson University have implemented a number of course innovations in our elementary and early childhood education content, internship, and methods courses. The purposes of this paper are to: (1) describe these innovations so that faculty looking to make similar changes might discover activities or instructional approaches to adapt for use at their own institutions and (2) provide a comprehensive list of lessons learned so that others can share in our successes and avoid our mistakes. The innovations in our content courses can be categorized as changes to our inquiry approach, the addition of new out-of-class activities and projects, and the introduction of engineering design challenges. The innovations in our internship and methods courses consist of a broad array of improvements, including supporting consistency across course sections, having current interns generate advice documents for future interns, switching focus to the NGSS science and engineering practices (and modifying them, if necessary, for early childhood), and creating new field placement lessons.

Student-Generated Photography as a Tool for Teaching Science

by Leslie Bradbury, Appalachian State University; Jeff Goodman, Appalachian State University; & Rachel E. Wilson, Appalachian State University

This paper describes the experiences of three science educators who used student-generated photographs in their methods classes. The paper explains the impetus for the idea and includes a summary of the literature that supports the use of photographs to teach science. The authors explain the process that they used in their classes and share examples of student-generated photographs. The paper concludes with a summary of the benefits that the authors felt occurred through the use of the photographs including the building of community within the classes and the encouragement of the preservice teachers’ identity as science learners and future science teachers.

Food Pedagogy as an Instructional Resource in a Science Methods Course

by William Medina-Jerez, University of Texas at El Paso; & Lucia Dura, University of Texas at El Paso

This article explores the integration of culturally relevant practices and student expertise into lesson planning in a university-level science methods course for preservice elementary teachers (PSETs). The project utilized a conceptual framework that combines food pedagogy and funds of knowledge, modeling an approach to lesson design that PSETs can use in their future classrooms to bring students’ worldviews to the forefront of science learning. The article gives an overview of the conceptual framework and the origins of the project. It describes the steps involved in the design, review, and delivery of lessons by PSETs and discusses implications for instructional practices in science teacher education and science learning in elementary schools. The article concludes with a discussion of major outcomes of the use of this framework, as evidenced by PSET pre- and post- project reflections: student-centered curriculum development, increased PSET self-confidence, integrated learning for both PSET and the students, and sustained levels of engagement.​

Apprehension to Application: How a Family Science Night Can Support Preservice Elementary Teacher Preparation

by Kelly Feille, University of Oklahoma; & Heather Shaffery, University of Oklahoma

Preservice elementary teachers (PSETs) often have limited opportunities to engage as teachers of science. As science-teacher educators, it is important to create experiences where PSETs can interact with science learners to facilitate authentic and engaging science learning. Using informal science learning environments is one opportunity to create positive teaching experiences for PSETs. This manuscript describes the use of a Family Science Night during an elementary science methods course where PSETs are responsible for designing and facilitating engaging science content activities with elementary students.

Collaborating with Virtual Visiting Scientists to Address Students’ Perceptions of Scientists and their Work

by Brandon T. Grossman, University of Colorado Boulder; & Donna Farland-Smith, Ohio State University

The idea that middle school students hold stereotypic representations or impressions of scientists is not new to the field of science education (Barman, 1997; Finson, 2002; Fort & Varney, 1989; Steinke et al., 2007). These representations may match the way scientists are often portrayed in the media in terms of their race (i.e., white), gender (i.e., male), the way they dress (i.e., lab coat, glasses, wild hair), their demeanor (i.e., nerdy, eccentric, anti-social), and where they work (i.e., in a laboratory by themselves). Bringing scientists into classrooms to collaborate with students and teachers has been shown to positively influence students’ perceptions of scientists and their work (Bodzin & Gerhinger, 2001; Flick, 1990). However, the planning and collaboration involved in this in-person work can be challenging, complex, and time consuming for both teachers and visiting scientists. Advances in classroom technologies have opened up new opportunities for disrupting problematic representations and supporting students in developing more expansive perceptions of science and scientists. This paper explores the collaboration between a middle school science teacher, five visiting scientists, and a science teacher educator around the development and implementation of a week long virtual visiting scientist program for middle school students. The impact the program had on the teacher’s ongoing practice and on students’ self-reported perceptions of science and scientists is also examined.

Connecting Preservice Teachers and Scientists Through Notebooks

by Ingrid Carter, Metropolitan State University of Denver; & Sarah Schliemann, Metropolitan State University

The use of science notebooks in an elementary methods course can encourage preservice teachers’ engagement in collaborative work and participation in science through writing (Morrison, 2008). In this paper we describe how we, a teacher educator and a scientist, collaborated to focus on how scientists use notebooks in their work, and how this compares and contrasts to how notebooks can be used in both a preservice elementary methods course and in the elementary classroom. We describe our facilitation of notebooks with preservice teachers and how we emphasize professional scientists’ use of notebooks. Additionally, we offer recommendations based on our experiences in our collaboration and facilitation of notebook use with preservice teachers. Our intention is to provide recommendations that can be applied in a variety of university contexts, such as emphasizing the Science and Engineering Practices and the Nature of Science, including discussion about the work of professional engineers, and making connections to literacy.

A Framework for Science Exploration: Examining Successes and Challenges for Preservice Teachers

by Keri-Anne Croce, Towson University

Undergraduate preservice teachers examined the Science Texts Analysis Model during a university course. The Science Texts Analysis Model is designed to support teachers as they help students prepare to engage with the arguments in science texts. The preservice teachers received instruction during class time on campus before employing the model when teaching science to elementary and middle school students in Baltimore city. This article describes how the preservice teachers applied their knowledge of the Science Texts Analysis Model within this real world context. Preservice teachers’ reactions to the methodology are examined in order to provide recommendations for future college courses.

Adapting a Model of Preservice Teacher Professional Development for Use in Other Contexts: Lessons Learned and Recommendations

by Meredith Park Rogers, Indiana University - Bloomington; Ingrid Carter, Metropolitan State University of Denver; Julie Amador, University of Idaho; Enrique Galindo, Indiana University - Bloomington; & Valarie Akerson, Indiana University - Bloomington

We discuss how an innovative field experience model initially developed at Indiana University - Bloomington (IUB) is adapted for use at two other institutions. The teacher preparation programs at the two adapting universities not only differ from IUB, but also from each other with respect to course structure and student population. We begin with describing the original model, referred to as Iterative Model Building (IMB), and how it is designed to incorporate on a variety of research-based teacher education methods (e.g., teaching experiment interviews and Lesson Study) for the purpose of supporting preservice teachers with constructing models of children’s thinking, using this information to inform lesson planning, and then participating in a modified form of lesson study for the purpose of reflecting on changes to the lesson taught and future lessons that will be taught in the field experience. The goal of these combined innovations is to initiate the development of preservice teachers’ knowledge and skill for focusing on children’s scientific and mathematical thinking. We then share how we utilize formative assessment interviews and model building with graduate level in-service teachers at one institution and how the component of lesson study is adapted for use with undergraduate preservice teachers at another institution. Finally, we provide recommendations for adapting the IMB approach further at other institutions.