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
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Abstract

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.

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
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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.

From Theory to Practice: Funds of Knowledge as a Framework for Science Teaching and Learning

by Tyler St. Clair, Longwood University; & Kaitlin McNulty, Norwood-Norfork Central School
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Abstract

The phrase "funds of knowledge" refers to a contemporary science education research framework that provides a unique way of understanding and leveraging student diversity. Students’ funds of knowledge can be understood as the social relationships through which they have access to significant knowledge and expertise (e.g., family practices, peer activities, issues faced in neighborhoods and communities). This distributed knowledge is a valuable resource that might enhance science teaching and learning in schools when used properly. This article aims to assist science methods instructors and secondary classroom teachers to better understand funds of knowledge theory and to provide numerous examples and resources for what this theory might look like in practice.

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
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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.

Preservice Elementary Teachers Using Graphing as a Tool for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing Science

by Deena L. Gould, University of New Mexico; Rolando Robles, Arizona State University; & Peter Rillero, Arizona State University
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Abstract

Graphing is an important tool for seeing patterns, analyzing data, and building models of scientific phenomena. Teachers of elementary school children use graphs to display data but rarely as tools for analyzing or making sense of data (Coleman, McTigue, & Smolkin, 2011). We provide a set of lessons that guide preservice elementary school teachers to analyze their conceptions about graphing and use graphing to (a) see patterns in data, (b) discuss and analyze data, (c) model scientific phenomena, and (d) teach and assess inquiry-based science. Examples are adduced for how we guided and supported preservice elementary teachers in their conceptual understanding and deeper use of graphing.

Supporting Schoolyard Pedagogy in Elementary Methods Courses

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

Critical Response Protocol: Supporting Preservice Science Teachers in Facilitating Inclusive Whole-Class Discussions

by Charlene L. Ellingson, Minnesota State University, Mankato; Dr. Jeanna Wieselmann, Caruth Institute for Engineering Education; & Dr. Felicia Dawn Leammukda, Minnesota State University, St. Cloud
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Abstract

Despite a large body of research on effective discussion in science classrooms, teachers continue to struggle to engage all students in such discussions. Whole-class discussions are particularly challenging to facilitate effectively and, therefore, often have a teacher-centered participation pattern. This article describes the Critical Response Protocol (CRP), a tool that disrupts teacher-centered discussion patterns in favor of a more student-centered structure that honors students’ science ideas. CRP originated in the arts community as a method for giving and receiving feedback to deepen critical dialog between artists and their audiences. In science classrooms, CRP can be used to elicit student ideas about scientific phenomena and invite wide participation while reducing the focus on “correct” responses. In this article, we describe our use of CRP with preservice science teachers. We first modeled the CRP process as it would be used with high school students in science classrooms, then discussed pedagogical considerations for implementing CRP within the preservice teachers’ classrooms. We conclude this article with a discussion of our insights about the opportunities and challenges of using CRP in science teacher education to support preservice teachers in leading effective whole-class discussion and attending to inclusive participation structures.