Supporting Teachers to MASTER Science and Engineering Research Practices

by Jennifer Jackson, The Pennsylvania State University; & Kathleen M. Hill, The Pennsylvania State University

Many secondary teachers often lack experience in actual science and engineering research, as their preparation programs are structured to lead to certification in a particular science field, with science learning constrained to participating in undergraduate lectures and lab courses. As a result, they often hold a view of research through the lens of the traditional scientific method in which research is linear, static, and sterile such that each step is discrete and only occurs when the prior step is complete (Windschitl, 2004; Windschitl et al., 2008). With a focus of NGSS on the science and engineering practices (SEPs), teachers need ongoing professional development that increases their understanding of the ways in which experts do their work and builds their capacity to incorporate these practices into student learning experiences. To address this need, the CSATS Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program introduces teachers to the Modeling Authentic STEM Research (MASTER)model, which serves as a useful tool and intervention for understanding high-level science and engineering research. Therefore, this paper presents an innovative framework that (1) allows teacher educators to create diagrammatic depictions of science and engineering research and (2) enables using these diagrams in programs with teachers. Through the creation of MASTER models, researchers can assist with bridging the communication gap that exists between scientists/ engineers and the K-12 community.

Can ChatGPT Help Pre-Service Teachers Analyze Classroom Discourse? Critical Reflections from a Science Methods Course

by Jacob Pleasants, University of Oklahoma

Leading productive classroom conversations is an essential part of a science teacher's pedagogical practice, but also difficult to do well. Novice science teachers find it challenging to direct conversations that progress students’ conceptual understanding while engaging them in scientific practices. They need to engage in deliberate, reflective practice to improve their discourse practices and sustain that deliberate work as they continue to develop their pedagogy. In my secondary science methods course, I work to build my students’ reflective practice by having them analyze transcripts of science instruction. I have used several scaffolding tools and frameworks to support them in that work, but a novel option is using a language model such as ChatGPT to assist with the analysis. In this article, I describe how I incorporated ChatGPT into a sequence of discourse-focused learning activities. My students explored and critiqued the capabilities of ChatGPT as a discourse analyst, and here I share our collective appraisals and insights into how to use it most effectively. I also share the ways in which I saw my students’ reflective and analytical practices develop over time.

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

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.

A Role Identification Activity to Support Science Teacher Leaders in Identifying Professional Learning Needs

by Sara C. Heredia, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Michelle Phillips, Exploratorium; Sarah Stallings, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; & Ti'Era Worsley, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Science teacher leadership has been identified as an important factor in the improvement of science education. However, there is wide variation in how leadership roles are assigned or taken up by science teachers. This makes designing professional development for science teacher leaders challenging. In this article, we present an activity designed to support science teacher leaders in identifying the leadership roles they occupy and the roles they would like to develop further through professional development. We present data from a group of science teacher leaders who participated in a professional learning program supported by a large science museum. Based on the data we collected, we provide a snapshot of how we interpreted that data and identify professional learning needs and possible resources for the science teacher leaders in the program.

Chat-Based Role-Play for Preservice Teachers to Practice Eliciting Students’ Arguments

by Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue, Towson University; Peter Rillero, Arizona State University; Cathy Liebars, The College of New Jersey; Adam Goldberg, Southern Connecticut State University; & Justin Reich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In this article, we describe our implementation of an innovative approximation of practice in teacher education: chat-based role-play. In so doing, we share our collective experiences as teacher educators about how the preservice teachers (PSTs) across our four methods courses—two elementary science courses, one elementary mathematics course, and one middle school mathematics course—practiced eliciting students’ initial arguments about a matter investigation (for science) or a fractions or ratio problem (for mathematics). The chat-based role-play to which we refer involves a one-on-one, 7-minute-long, teacher–student typed chat in which the teacher aims to elicit the student’s claim and evidence-based reasoning (for science) or justification (for math). We used Eliciting Learner Knowledge (ELK;, a multiplayer option in the Teacher Moments online platform from the MIT Teaching Systems Lab that is free and available for public use, to support this role-playing experience; however, we also explain how other platforms (e.g., Google Docs) can achieve a similar effect. In this article, we describe (a) the affordances of typed chat-based role-play; (b) the ELK platform and elementary science chat as an example; (c) the ways in which we prepared PSTs for their chats, formatted their chat experiences, and asked them to reflect after the chats; (d) how our PSTs benefitted from preparing for, engaging in, and debriefing from these chats; (e) implementation challenges and associated suggestions; and (f) alternate ways of conducting typed chat-based role-play in methods courses. Content-specific examples throughout the article are from science.

3D Into 5E for Space Sciences Lessons Using NASA Education Resources for Elementary and Middle School Classrooms

by Soon C. Lee, Kennesaw State University; Bergman, Daniel, Wichita State University; & Novacek, Greg, NA

Implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS; NGSS Lead States, 2013) 3D learning that is well aligned with the performance expectations has been challenging for many science teachers. Furthermore, studies on curriculum materials for NGSS have rarely provided templates or guidelines that are straightforward for teachers to use in their science classes. This project aimed to provide professional development opportunities to middle school teachers (Grades 5–8) through a workshop designed to facilitate the integration of NASA’s educational resources into science lessons aligned with the NGSS 3D learning framework. The workshop included a conceptual model (i.e., 3D Into 5E), lesson templates, and sample lessons. Specifically, the project activities were designed to improve the participating teachers’ space-science content knowledge and instructional strategies, thereby enabling them to capture their students’ interest and channel it toward related STEM careers. Although the BSCS 5E Instructional Model (Bybee et al., 2006) is not a new concept, this project has demonstrated its efficacy as a template for effectively integrating the three dimensions of NGSS with related phenomena in science teaching. This project has not only demonstrated the effectiveness of the 5E model as a tool for promoting a deeper understanding of scientific concepts but also innovatively incorporated hands-on space-science activities to enhance its impact. By engaging teachers in these activities, the project improved their ability to modify instructional materials using the 3D Into 5E template, ultimately leading to a more engaging and impactful learning experience for their students. The study’s results showed that participating teachers experienced significant improvements in their space-science content knowledge and teaching confidence, indicating the effectiveness of this innovative approach. The teachers also reported high levels of student engagement and enjoyment during space-science activities, indicating the potential of this approach to enhance student-centered learning and improve the quality of science instruction delivered to students. Overall, this project’s innovative approach has the potential to transform science education by providing teachers with practical tools and strategies to engage students in science and promote a deeper understanding of space-science concepts.

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

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.

Ditch the Debate: Preparing Preservice Teachers to Nurture Productive Discourse About Controversial Issues

by Eric A. Kirk, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; & Troy D. Sadler, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This article showcases a lesson for preservice teachers designed to better prepare them in making instructional choices that support teaching and learning about complex socioscientific issues (SSI). Many of society’s most pressing social issues require the understanding and application of scientific knowledge. To do so, individuals must navigate not only the scientific dimensions of the issue, but also the moral considerations that arise from the application of scientific knowledge to these complex issues. We begin this article with a discussion of a framework for effective SSI-based teaching followed by a discussion of the unique challenges to teaching and learning that are posed by engaging students with complex, moral issues such as SSI. We then outline a lesson in which preservice teachers were exposed to two example SSI-based lessons. One lesson was designed to exacerbate challenges associated with engaging with morally fraught issues, whereas the other was designed to mitigate these challenges. Throughout this experience, students were encouraged to reflect on their experiences from their perspective as students and as developing teachers. This article concludes with recommendations for practitioners who may wish to implement this lesson, including suggestions for possible adaptations.