Promises and Pitfalls: Using an AI Chatbot as a Tool in 5E Lesson Planning

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

The authors describe how we approached using an AI chatbot, ChatGPT, during the spring 2023 semester with preservice elementary education students as an exercise in thinking about planning 5E lessons. We report here how we explored the tool with four different sections of preservice teachers and what we found about using this particular AI chatbot to help them develop planning skills for inquiry-based science instruction. Specifically, we found that when using a single prompt, the tool was not reliably accurate or realistic in planning for real classrooms or creating quality 5E lessons. However, when we employed techniques to focus and refine our prompts, we found value in using the chatbot as a part of brainstorming, and we determined that ChatGPT was particularly useful for generating high-quality, open-ended questions. Our overall conclusion from the experience is the importance of scaffolding students to use AI chatbots in an iterative process, focusing on creating high-quality prompts and successive questioning to get useful output information. Opportunities and cautions for using such tools in education are reviewed.

Promoting Understanding of Three Dimensions of Science Learning Plus Nature of Science Using Phenomenon-Based Learning

by Maryam Saberi, Ministry of Education of Iran; & Noushin Nouri, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

The utilization of phenomenon-based learning (PhBL) for science instruction remains limited despite its alignment with the goals outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS; NGSS Lead States, 2013) due to the lack of exemplary materials and inadequate training opportunities for teachers. The aim of this article is to illustrate the steps of the PhBL method by providing an exploratory learning experience as it was implemented in a preservice setting. In this study, we provide an innovative perspective by illuminating how this kind of instruction can be used as a context to explicitly discuss the three dimensions of learning (i.e., Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science and Engineering Practices, and Crosscutting Concepts; NGSS Lead States, 2013) as well as the nature of science (NOS). Using PhBL to teach NOS is an answer to the concern of teachers who think teaching NOS would take time from their content teaching. Hopefully, this article provides a comprehensive guideline for science educators to facilitate the inclusion of PhBL in their science methods courses and use it to clarify the three dimensions of NGSS and the incorporation of NOS within these dimensions for preservice teachers.

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.

Redesigning a Science Teacher Preparation Program for Equity: Using Critical Whiteness Pedagogy to Educate Secondary Science Preservice Teachers

by Jonathan McCausland, New Mexico Highlands University; & Scott McDonald, Pennsylvania State University

In this article, we describe the redesign of a secondary science teacher preparation program. The goal of the redesign was to help preservice teachers in the program become more justice-oriented science teachers. We describe the impetus for the redesign and how we went about redesigning the program through an iterative process of conjecture mapping (Sandoval, 2014), and we highlight important elements of the program. Ultimately, we argue that teacher preparation programs can draw upon practice-based teacher education and critical whiteness pedagogy to assist preservice teachers in becoming justice-oriented science teachers. By blending practice-based teacher education and critical whiteness pedagogy, preservice science teachers can practice being justice oriented, helping them become novice critical whiteness ambitious science teachers.

Preservice Teachers Facilitating a Discussion With Elementary Student Avatars Before Facilitating It With Real Students

by Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue, Towson University; Karen Cimino, Towson University; & Julia Brandeberry, Towson University

In this article, we share our innovation in which we used backward design to develop a scenario for use within the Mursion mixed-reality (MR) upper elementary simulated classroom environment to enable preservice teachers (PSTs) to practice facilitating an ambitious group discussion before facilitating that discussion to students in their field placement. The third-year elementary PSTs were enrolled in a course in which they taught a fourth-grade, NGSS-aligned unit that focused on the external and internal structures of sea turtles and how an injury to one or more of those structures could impact their growth, survival, behavior, or reproduction. To enhance the unit, we added a nonfiction text, Karl’s New Beak (Nargi & Popham, 2019), that examines the ramifications on survival, behavior, and reproduction faced by an Abyssinian ground hornbill missing most of his lower beak. At the end of the unit, each PST facilitated a discussion to elicit connections their students made between key ideas in the unit and text about how an injury to an animal impacts its survival, behavior, or reproduction. We share key elements of scenario design and how the PSTs prepared for, implemented, and debriefed from the MR simulated discussion. We also summarize and provide examples from the PSTs’ reflections on how the simulated experience prepared them to facilitate the same discussion with their small groups of fourth graders. For teacher educators who have access to the Mursion system, we provide our scenario and recommendations on how to begin utilizing this technology.

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.

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.