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.

Preparing Preservice Teachers to Help Elementary Students Develop Persuasive Science Writing

by Keri-Anne Croce, Towson University; & Lucy Spence, University of South Carolina

To inspire change in the world, scientists must be agile communicators who can persuade different audiences around the globe. Persuasive science writing must reflect an understanding of how culture and language influence audiences in different ways. Examples of scientific writing designed for different audiences around the globe include pamphlets describing safe masking practices or public-service announcements about climate change. Preservice teachers must prepare the next generations of scientists to think of science content in conjunction with communication. This has created a high demand for university programs to prepare preservice teachers to teach elementary students how to create persuasive science writing. The International Science Text Analysis Protocols (ISTAP) teaching methodology was designed to help preservice teachers guide elementary students to develop tools for creating persuasive science writing. This article details how university programs may use ISTAP to support preservice teachers before, during, and after school placements. As linguistic and cultural diversity within science classrooms in the United States continues to expand, students will bring diverse resources into conversations centering on persuasive science writing. As university faculty guide preservice teachers through ISTAP, they are emphasizing diversity within science classrooms and supporting equity within STEM.

Research-Community Partnerships to Support Teacher Professional Learning

by Katherine Wade-Jaimes, University of Nevada Las Vegas; Rachel Askew, Freed-Hardeman University; Cullen Johnson, Memphis Teacher Residencey; & Chuck Butler, Memphis Teacher Residency

Providing ongoing support for inservice teachers is a challenge faced by school districts, educational organizations, and colleges of education everywhere. In this article, we describe a partnership between a community-based educational organization and educational researchers designed to provide professional development and support for science and math teachers while also supporting youth participating in a summer STEM program. Originating from an identified need of the community organization to better support youth STEM identity in their programming and rooted in a framework of STEM identity and equity in STEM, this partnership leveraged resources from different groups and was shown to be beneficial to the community organization, educational researchers, teachers, and youth. It this article, we discuss the logistics of this partnership and how it was implemented during a summer program, provide outcomes from youth and teachers, and include suggestions for the development of similar partnerships.

From Pandemic Pivot to Community Outreach: Homeschool Students as Participants for Course-Based Field Placements

by Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University; & Maureen G. Honeychuck, Towson University

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a pivot to online instruction for our university and the surrounding K–12 schools. The instructors of the Classroom Interactions course faced the challenge of developing an online version of a course we had never taught that included a class-based field experience. During the fall semester, we struggled to recruit secondary students to participate in preservice teacher (PST) lessons, so we invited homeschool students to participate in the spring semester. This article outlines our approach to inviting homeschool students to participate in online PST-developed lessons. We outline our approach to utilizing the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Task-Based Discussions in Science (Cartier et al., 2013) to develop lessons, and we share PST and parent feedback on the experience. Additionally, we share the lessons we learned from this experience and suggestions for other teacher educators who may be interested in inviting homeschool students to participate in PST-developed field experiences. PSTs were able to focus on their lesson objective, instruction, and discourse moves for leading productive discussions because the PSTs and students did not experience many of the typical classroom distractions or behavioral issues that can occur during in-person learning in a school setting. Teacher educators interested in having more autonomy and input into how course-based field placements are implemented are encouraged to explore options to include homeschool students in-person or virtually.

Implementing a Mentoring Program for Beginning Secondary STEM Teachers: Conceptualization and Lessons Learned

by Lara Smetana, Loyola University Chicago; Krishna Millsapp, Loyola University Chicago; Megan Leider, Loyola University Chicago; & Mark Johnson

The importance of attending to teachers’ transition from student to teacher (i.e., induction period) is increasingly recognized. This article describes efforts to develop, implement, and iteratively revise a mentoring program for beginning secondary science and mathematics teachers. We explain the conceptualization of the program in terms of four dimensions of teachers’ professional practice and varying mentoring approaches and formats. Examples of mentoring program components illustrate the program design. Lessons learned from the first 2 years are explored utilizing participant data as evidence. Plans for our program are discussed as well as implications for other teacher education programs.

Building a Firm Foundation: Preparing Pre-K–4 Teachers for Integrative STEM Pedagogy

by Sharon A. Brusic, Millersville University of Pennsylvania; Nanette Marcum-Dietrich, Millersville University of Pennsylvania; Jennifer Shettel, Millersville University of Pennsylvania; & Janet White, Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Preservice teachers in early childhood (pre-K–4) education teacher preparation programs typically experience content-specific pedagogy courses that operate in isolation from each other. In addition, preservice teachers are rarely given the opportunity to learn about integrative teaching in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In this article, the authors describe how Millersville University of Pennsylvania, a midsized regional public university in the Mid-Atlantic Region, addressed this issue in their teacher preparation program by creating an integrative STEM (iSTEM) minor that provided preservice teachers with five additional courses that explored how to implement STEM in early childhood classrooms in developmentally appropriate ways with a design-based pedagogy. This article introduces the program, including the specific coursework that preservice teachers engage in as well as other programmatic features that contribute to the success of the minor in increasing the confidence and skill levels of future teachers in successful STEM integration techniques. Photographs and artifacts are included to provide readers with a clearer picture of the types of learning activities and assignments in which students engaged. The article concludes with qualitative comments from students who participated in this program.

Scaffolding Prospective Teachers’ Development of Noticing in Video-Based and Authentic Classroom Settings

by Lu Wang, Indiana University Kokomo

As an important aspect of teacher expertise, noticing skills need to be learned and practiced in teacher education programs. Although noticing literature has reported on the effectiveness of videos with associated scaffolding structures and the significant role that practical experiences play in teachers’ development of noticing skills, research on ways to support prospective teachers’ noticing in both video-based and authentic classroom settings in the field of science education is scarce. Building on teacher noticing research and the critical incident framework, this article describes a model that engages a group of prospective elementary teachers in the practice of noticing first in a 2-week, online, video-based training module and then in dynamic and complex classrooms when they attend a practicum associated with a science methods course. Detailed descriptions of the model, prospective teachers’ learning outcomes, and thoughts and considerations for implementing the model are shared. Differences between prospective teachers’ noticing journal entries prior to the video-based training module and immediately after, along with their noticing patterns in the practicum classrooms, show the development of prospective teachers’ noticing skills during the semester. Factors that were found to impact prospective teachers’ noticing in video-based and authentic classroom settings include: (a) using the adapted critical incident framework as a scaffolding guideline, (b) providing continuous feedback on prospective teacher noticing journals, and (c) having opportunities to observe science instruction in practicum classrooms.