Is This an Authentic Engineering Activity? Resources for Addressing the Nature of Engineering With Teachers

by Jacob Pleasants, University of Oklahoma
Abstract

Including engineering as part of K–12 science instruction has many potential benefits for students, but achieving those benefits depends on having classroom teachers who are well prepared to effectively implement engineering instruction. Science teacher educators, therefore, have an essential role to play in ensuring that engineering is incorporated into science instruction in productive ways. An important component of that work is developing teachers’ understanding of the nature of engineering: what engineering is, what engineers do, and how engineering is both related to yet separate from science. Teachers must understand these concepts to implement engineering design activities that authentically reflect the field. In this article, I describe a sequence of instructional activities designed to help teachers, either preservice or inservice, develop their knowledge of the nature of engineering. At the core of the instructional sequence is a set of stories that provide teachers with descriptions of authentic engineering work. Surrounding the stories are activities that help teachers draw accurate conclusions about the nature of engineering and draw out the implications of those conclusions for instructional decision-making. I provide an overview of the instructional sequence and also share details from my own work with teachers, including transcripts of classroom conversations and the impact of instruction on teachers’ knowledge.

The Periodic Tile Project: Exploring the Elements With Teacher Candidates Through Science and Art

by Franklin S. Allaire, University of Houston-Downtown
Abstract

Studies have shown that teacher candidates enrolled in teacher preparation programs, particularly those in early childhood and elementary certification tracks, do not feel comfortable with science content or feel confident in their ability to teach science effectively as they enter student teaching. The Periodic Tile Project is an interdisciplinary project and performance assessment that takes an essential component of the chemistry curriculum that is often treated as a static tool to be memorized and brings the dynamic facets of the elements to life through the integration of science and art. Integrating science and art in performance-based assessments has been shown to increase engagement, self-motivation, and sense of ownership and enhance expression and communication skills in K–12 students. It can provide the same benefits to science teacher candidates. This article describes the use of the Periodic Tile Project with teacher candidates to explore the elements in a fun, meaningful, and memorable way.

STEM Teacher Leader Collaborative: A Responsive Professional Learning Network With Radical Hope

by Alison Mercier, University of Wyoming
Abstract

Many elementary teachers in the United States receive little to no STEM-focused professional learning during an average school year. When elementary teachers do participate in professional learning opportunities focused solely on STEM teaching and learning, they are often positioned as novices in need of improvement or instruction rather than colearners and cocontributors to the learning community. In this article, I describe the STEM Teacher Leader Collaborative as one way to address current challenges in STEM-focused professional learning and as an infrastructure for responsive teacher learning. I highlight the STEM Teacher Leader Collaborative as a model of a responsive professional learning network with radical hope, describing its guiding principles and the meanings teachers make of their experience within the network.

CURating Science Literacy and Professional Identity Among Biology and Science Education Majors

by Tonia A. Dousay, University of Idaho; Brant G. Miller, University of Idaho; & Christine E. Parent, University of Idaho
Abstract

In this article, we discuss a novel approach to course-based undergraduate research experiences (CURE) by exploring the impact of a near-peer configuration within three courses: the Elementary Science Education and Secondary Science Methods courses for education students and the Dimensions of Biodiversity course for students in the biological sciences. We were interested in understanding how students from education would benefit from partnering with students from the sciences and vice versa. We discuss our approach to designing and implementing the near-peer approach along with extended details regarding the process for research groups. We used a modified Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment (URSSA) to understand how science and science education majors influence one another in developing researcher identity, including scientific literacy and communication skills, after engaging in a near-peer structured CURE. Our results show that most science education students reported increased interest in conducting research in the future and some biology students reported an increased interest in teaching science. Logistical and interpersonal relationships were noted as the primary adverse challenges to implementation. Future programming and research efforts should expand to include other scientific disciplines and pay close attention to interpersonal dynamics, especially during the matchmaking phase.

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.

Utilizing Video to Support Planning, Enacting, and Analyzing Teaching in Preservice Science Teacher Education

by Tara Barnhart, Chapman University
Abstract

The use of video to support preservice teacher development is becoming increasingly common. However, research on teacher noticing indicates that novices need tools to focus their attention on students’ disciplinary ideas. This article describes a course designed for secondary science teachers that incorporates video analysis as a core part of repeated learning cycles. Of particular interest is how well the video-analysis tasks and tools support PSTs in learning to plan, enact, analyze, and reflect on instruction. A qualitative analysis of PSTs’ video annotations, lesson-analysis guides, and written reflections reveals that PSTs in the course developed a disposition towards responsive instruction and leveraged evidence of student thinking in their analyses of the effectiveness of their instruction. Lesson-analysis guides appear to be the tool PSTs relied on the most to inform their written reflections. Further investigation on how best to structure video analysis will help further refine the use of video in teacher education.

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 Professional Development That Helps Teachers Integrate Computational Thinking Into Their Science Classrooms Through Codesign

by Sally P. W. Wu, Washington University in St. Louis; Amanda Peel, Northwestern University; Lexie Zhao, Northwestern University; Michael Horn, Northwestern University; & Uri Wilensky, Northwestern University
Abstract

Computational thinking (CT) is a key practice in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) that high school inservice teachers struggle to teach alongside disciplinary content in their classrooms. They often require training on how computing intersects with traditional science content and how to use computational tools that foster CT and scientific practices. To this end, we developed a professional development (PD) program that positioned inservice teachers as (a) learners who engage in such practices and (b) codesigners of CT-integrated science curricula. In this paper, we describe the 4-week PD program as it was implemented in two settings: in person with seven teachers and online with 11 teachers. We share detailed descriptions of how we leveraged physical and digital spaces in PD activities and provide access to our resources so that other educators can adapt our PD program to help teachers integrate CT into their science classrooms. In both settings, teachers engaged in CT-integrated science activities designed for students to learn about CT in the context of disciplinary content. Furthermore, they worked with a team to develop curricular units that use computational tools to teach a specific topic in their classroom. In this process, teachers gained insights on CT, disciplinary content, and curriculum codesign through engaging in workshops and cocreating curricular materials with researchers and fellow teachers.