- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1758506
- First Name Ksenija
- Last Name Simic-Muller
- Discipline Biology, Chemistry, Geosciences, Math
Shannon Seidel, Pacific Lutheran University, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Wendy Gardiner, Pacific Lutheran University, email@example.com
Shannon Seidel, Pacific Lutheran University, firstname.lastname@example.org; Ksenija Simic-Muller, Pacific Lutheran University, email@example.com
Discipline-based education research (DBER) has demonstrated the importance of active learning in the college classroom to effectively train a broad and diverse STEM workforce (Freeman et al., 2014). Along with the use of active learning, service learning courses that allow students to meaningfully partner with the community, such as the partnership described in the poster, have been shown to improve student retention, particularly for students from underserved backgrounds (Simonet, 2008). These changes in college science teaching come at a similar time to changes in the way science is taught at the primary school level. Windschitl and Stroupe (2017) argue that science teacher educators could better serve teacher candidates by teaching them how to create opportunities for students to participate in scientific inquiry by asking them to make sense of the scientific world around them rather than teach them how to align their practice with the NGSS.
Our project was primarily concerned with creating meaningful teaching experiences for STEM majors who are considering, but are not necessarily committed to, teaching as a career. Our guiding question was: How to create meaningful teaching experiences for STEM majors in order to make teaching an attracting career option for them, while creating authentic partnerships with district partners, and enriching the science learning experience of students in participating classrooms?
We describe an interdisciplinary, research-based course with K-8 classroom experiences that was developed in close collaboration with school district partners. In Spring of 2019, teams of two natural science majors partnered with K-8 teachers from three high-needs school districts to co-develop and co-teach five classroom lessons during the semester. Students in the course observed expert teaching in the school and university classrooms to gain an image of principled and robust instruction; explored the primary literature in science education; co-planned lessons in teams; debriefed lessons with teachers; and repeatedly reflected on their classroom experiences through journals and peer-group discussions. Students met weekly for a two-hour course to explore concept development in science learning using the NGSS, delve into the science education research literature, learn about science-specific teaching strategies, discuss issues of classroom equity and access, and design assessments.
While there were multiple positive outcomes from this partnership, our poster will focus on student experiences in the class. It will show final reflection data to better understand what students took away from the course and their fieldwork in classrooms, and how the experience impacted their orientation toward teaching. Suggested changes to the course from student and teacher partners will also be included to inform future iterations of this course at our institution and others.
Broader impact: 1) improve STEM knowledge, pedagogy, and experience in diverse classrooms for prospective teachers; 2) support the ongoing professional growth of excellent K-8 STEM teachers by offering curricular materials and drawing upon their knowledge and expertise to prepare future teachers; 3) provide increased STEM access to culturally and linguistically diverse students in high-need schools by developing more skilled future teachers and supporting current teachers.
Implications: Courses like the one we describe can have a positive impact on recruiting prospective teachers, especially at smaller universities that do not have full science education programs. Next steps: The project is being scaled up to a Track 1 grant that will contain the same components as the Capacity Building one, with additional programs and supports.