Engaging Preservice Teachers in Collaborative Inquiry Projects During Remote Instruction

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

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

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

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

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.

Training Preservice Science Teachers to Teach Inclusively

by Elizabeth M. Watts, University of Kassel

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.

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

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.

Learning About Environmental Issues With A Desktop Virtual Reality Field Trip

by Alec Bodzin, Lehigh University; Robson Araujo-Junior, Lehigh University; Chad Schwartz, Lehigh Gap Nature Center; David Anastasio, Lehigh University; Thomas Hammond, Lehigh University; & Brian Birchak, Lehigh Gap Nature Center

This article describes a design partnership with university faculty and informal environmental educators that developed a desktop virtual-reality field trip (dVFT) to learn about the environmental changes that occurred during the past two centuries because of a zinc smelting plant operation in the Lehigh River watershed. Our watershed is historically significant because it was a driving force of the industrial revolution in the United States during the 19th century. We provide background on place-based learning and the affordances that virtual reality (VR) and VR field trips can provide for learning. We describe our design and development approach and present the resulting dVFT. We discuss how the dVFT was used in an environmental education course during a global pandemic. The course included preservice and inservice secondary science teachers. The students experienced both immersion (i.e., sensory fidelity) and presence (i.e., subjective psychological response) when using the dVFT. The dVFT served two main purposes in the course. First, it provided students who were unable to attend the optional field trip with a meaningful experience to learn about an important environmental issue and remediation process. Second, the dVFT served as a valuable foundational learning activity for students to familiarize themselves with the actual field site prior to going to the physical site location. Implications for science teacher educators interested in developing a dVFT are discussed.

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

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.