Engaging Preservice Teachers in Collaborative Inquiry Projects During Remote Instruction

by Julie Robinson, University of North Dakota; & Rebekah Hammack, Montana State University
Abstract

We implemented a remote collaborative inquiry project with elementary preservice teachers who were enrolled in their science methods course during the 2020–2021 academic year. The courses were taught in one of three modalities: (1) fully online and asynchronous (graduate students seeking initial licensure), (2) fully online with synchronous and asynchronous components (undergraduate students), and (3) blended with face-to-face and asynchronous online components (undergraduate students). During the project, groups of two to four preservice teachers engaged remotely in collaborative, hands-on inquiry projects and documented their communication throughout the process. The remote collaborative inquiry projects were adapted from existing course assignments that had previously been used in face-to-face settings. We found that despite encountering some unexpected challenges with implementation, most participants recognized the value of group work for learning science. However, many preservice teachers, especially undergraduate students, focused on completing a quality end product rather than the learning that occurred throughout the process of collaboration and inquiry. It was also clear that many did not differentiate between collaborative and cooperative learning and often utilized a divide-and-conquer cooperative strategy. Future implementations of the project should intentionally provide opportunities for preservice teachers to discuss the differences between collaboration and cooperation and how these strategies impact learning in addition to the completion of a final product.

Designing for Justice: Preparing Culturally Competent Science and Mathematics Teacher Advocates for High-Need Schools 

by Monica Grillo, William & Mary; & Meredith Kier , William & Mary
Abstract

In a time when the United States is faced with continued racism and social unrest, it is more important than ever to prepare teachers who can advocate for marginalized students and social justice. This article describes the evolution of a seminar course called Theory and Reality: Practicum in Math and Science Teaching in High-Need Schools within the context of a predominately White teacher-preparation program. Guided by scholars of culturally relevant education and our professional and personal journeys as equity-focused teacher educators, we sought to design experiences to prepare preservice science and mathematics teachers to teach in high-poverty or underfunded schools. Specifically, the course was intended to (1) develop an understanding of pedagogical practices and educational strategies for successful teaching in a high-need school setting, especially in mathematics and science classrooms, and (2) cultivate both cultural self-awareness and cross-cultural consciousness in one’s ability to adapt to the high-need environment in a culturally responsive way. We describe the evolutionary rationale for changes made to course assignments and readings to promote cultural competence and early advocacy skills for teacher candidates interested in teaching in schools facing poverty. We highlight preservice teachers’ reflections that evidence their early conceptualizations of teaching in a high-need school context and how assignments promoted their relationship-building and advocacy skills for marginalized students.

A Sociotechnical Approach to Engineering Education: Engineering Social Justice for Elementary Preservice Teachers

by David Kimori, Minnesota State University, Mankato; & Charlene Ellingson, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Abstract

In this article, we describe an assignment that we have developed in our Engineering for Elementary Teachers course. The assignment was designed to address social justice within the engineering design process. In this course, preservice teachers (PSTs) develop an engineering project that integrates six criteria of engineering for social justice into their lesson plan as a way to make the social relevance of engineering more apparent. Beyond having teachers develop an engineering lesson plan, the goal is to increase awareness of the social justice dimension of engineering as a strategy for integrating culturally relevant pedagogies into engineering lessons. In this article, we share several lessons our PSTs have developed as well as insights that they gained about the relationship between engineering and social justice. We also share some of the challenges that the PSTs faced and the insights that we gained about integrating social justice criteria into engineering lessons.

Promoting Understanding of Several Elements of Nature of Science Using an Analogy: A Tangram Activity

by Mansour Vesali, Shahid Rajaee Teacher Training University; Noushin Nouri, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; & Maryam Saberi, Ministry of Education, Iran
Abstract

Developing a proper view of the nature of science (NOS) amongst teachers and students has been the goal of science education for decades. This article discusses an innovative activity designed for training preservice science teachers on NOS. We endorse an approach according to which several aspects of NOS can be explicitly discussed and explained. This activity is an extended version of a tangram activity introduced by Choi (2004). Aside from introducing NOS elements covered by Choi, our tangram activity also introduces the following elements: (1) theories are valid products of science, (2) the role of subjectivity and bias in science, (3) the importance of scientific community in science, (4) prediction is part of science, and (5) creativity and imagination are important in science. The activity can be used decontextualized (i.e., as a stand-alone lesson) in science methods classes, but it also has high potential to be contextualized within content related to the history of science. In this article, we provide procedures for using an analogy activity (the tangram activity) and explain how to connect each part to NOS elements. This activity was tested successfully in several science methods courses, a NOS course, and two professional development workshops.

Training Preservice Science Teachers to Teach Inclusively

by Elizabeth M. Watts, University of Kassel
Abstract

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted in 2006. Since its ratification, the educational landscape has rapidly changed because inclusion requires a radical restructuring of mainstream schooling. At the classroom level, adaptations must be made to course materials, teaching approaches, testing, and other aspects of classroom teaching to meet the needs of an increasingly heterogeneous student body. To prepare future teachers to meet the objectives set forth in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), it is necessary to develop preservice course modules that specifically cultivate sensitivity toward students with disabilities and train preservice teachers in how to adapt their teaching to accommodate students with disabilities or chronic illnesses. This type of training is critically important for preservice science teachers. The idea of inclusive education can be particularly daunting because of the complexity of science topics and the variety of educational activities that would require adaptation (e.g., course materials, experiments, and excursions). This article outlines an online, project-oriented module that effectively increased preservice science teachers’ positive views on inclusion and their self-efficacy in terms of accommodating effectively.

Virtual Tools and Protocols to Support Collaborative Reflection During Lesson Study

by Randall E. Groth, Salisbury University; Jennifer A. Bergner, Salisbury University; Starlin D. Weaver, Salisbury University; & D. Jake Follmer, West Virginia University
Abstract

Lesson study provides opportunities for teachers to collaboratively design, implement, and analyze instruction. Research illustrates its efficacy as a site for teacher learning. The setting for this article is a lesson study project involving preservice teachers, inservice teachers, and university faculty members. We supported collaborative reflection on practice among these individuals by using asynchronous and synchronous online tools and meeting protocols. Asynchronous online lesson-video review and tagging helped participants prepare to debrief about lessons they had implemented. Midway through one of our lesson study cycles, the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, eliminating opportunities to meet face-to-face for lesson debriefing sessions. In response, we developed and field-tested two protocols for online synchronous lesson study debriefing meetings. The protocols prompted conversations related to pedagogy, content, and content-specific pedagogy. After the debriefing sessions, lesson study group members reported improvements in their knowledge growth, self-efficacy, and expectations for student learning. We describe our use of online virtual tools and protocols to contribute to the literature on ways to support collaborative reflection on practice.

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.

Facilitating an Elementary School-Wide Immersive Academic Event

by Melanie Kinskey, Sam Houston State University; Mitch Ruzek, University of South Florida; & Dana L. Zeidler, University of South Florida
Abstract

Traditional science teaching has tended to focus on compartmentalized academic content that is removed from the practice of everyday life. Confronting this has been a perennial challenge in science teacher education, and the impact on the stifling of students’ creativity, critical thinking, and engagement has been well documented in the literature. Progressive science teaching, however, emphasizes situating instruction in sociocultural contexts that engage children in the activity of learning by tapping into their natural instincts of wonder, curiosity, questioning, and actively seeking meaning about the world around them. This article describes week-long, immersive, inquiry-based events that university educators facilitate at local schools. The purpose of the events is to model how to engage students in inquiry-based experiences and stimulate their natural curiosity and, at the same time, facilitate professional development for teachers. These educative experiences are positioned in the notion of interdisciplinary, inquiry-based learning that drew from science, the creative arts, social sciences, language arts, and mathematics. During this week-long event, we build a community of engagement aimed at fostering heightened levels of academic commitment, developing natural inquiry skills, and cultivating authentic scientific habits of mind through inquiry that would captivate both students and teachers across multiple grade levels.

NGSS Scientific Practices in an Elementary Science Methods Course: Preservice Teachers Doing Science

by Judith Morrison, Washington State University Tri-Cities
Abstract

To engage elementary preservice teachers enrolled in a science methods course in authentically doing science, I developed an assignment focused on the NGSS scientific practices. Unless preservice teachers engage in some type of authentic science, they will never understand the scientific practices and will be ill-equipped to communicate these practices to their future students or engage future students in authentic science. The two main objectives for this assignment were for the PSTs to gain a more realistic understanding of how science is done and gain confidence in conducting investigations incorporating the scientific practices to implement in their future classrooms. To obtain evidence about how these objectives were met, I posed the following questions: What do PSTs learn about using the practices of science from this experience, and what do they predict they will implement in their future teaching relevant to authentic investigations using the scientific practices? Quotes from preservice teachers demonstrating their (a) learning relevant to doing science, (b) their struggles doing this type of investigation, and (c) predictions of how they might incorporate the scientific practices in their future teaching are included. The assignment and the challenges encountered implementing this assignment in a science methods course are also described.