- Year 2018
- NSF Noyce Award # 1340006
- First Name Elaine
- Last Name Howes
- Discipline Geosciences
Elaine V. Howes
, American Museum of Natural History
, American Museum of Natural History
In a concerted effort to ground preservice teacher education in the actual work of teaching, science education scholars have begun a discussion about what core teaching practices are most important for new science teachers to learn (Kloser, 2014; Windschitl, et al., 2012). Our urban teacher residency Master of Arts in Teaching program (MAT), which prepares Earth science teachers for high-need schools, is exploring the core science teaching practices approach and considering proposed science teaching core practices as appropriate for our program’s goals. Part of this endeavor involves our research into our graduates’ teaching practices through multiple case studies that ask the questions, What are our graduates’ practices as teachers and how are they representative of the pedagogical priorities of our program? What is the impact of the graduates on their students? Our research grows out of our program, and feeds back into faculty discussions as we continue to clarify our shared vision.
Our research is designed to inform our preservice and inservice teacher education programs and is thus embedded in the action research tradition (Carr & Kemmis, 1986, 2013; Loughran, 2007). As part of this undertaking, we are conducting multiple case studies to inquire into our graduates’ teaching. Our graduates teach in a large variety of settings; many of these settings provide serious challenges to new teachers attempting to base their instruction in their students’ thinking. The fundamental goal of attending to students’ thinking is complicated and pushed back against, primarily, by the demands of standardized testing, piled on top of the management challenges any new teacher faces in structuring and supporting student discussion in the classroom. Given this, what can we learn from our graduates that can inform our program in helping new teachers elicit, assess, and work with their students’ ideas? The case illustrated in this poster pays particular attention to the teacher participant’s use of the core teaching practice of eliciting, assessing, and using students’ ideas (Kloser, 2014), through the lens of supporting students in the science practice of constructing explanations (McNeill, et al., 2006).
There are few studies that describe how new science teachers envision and enact instruction that “simultaneously promotes rigorous disciplinary activity and is responsive to all students” (Thompson, et al., 2016, p. 4). We use a case study methodology (Yin, 2013) to draw upon multiple sources of data to develop a portrait of an individual new teacher’s practice. In our exploration of this teacher’s use of the core practice of eliciting, assessing, and working with students’ ideas, we realized that a strong thread in her planning and instruction was that of supporting students in constructing scientific explanations. Engaging students in constructing explanations is in itself a core science teaching practice representative of ambitious science teaching (Windschitl et al., 2012; Roth et al., 2018). The focus of our analysis is the teacher’s use of these two practices as they are interwoven in her instruction.
We worked with Leah during her third year of teaching Earth science at a high-needs high school. In our exploration of her use of the teaching practice of eliciting, assessing, and using student thinking (Kloser, 2014), it became clear that Leah made the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) science practice of constructing explanations (NRC, 2012) central to her instruction. Leah spoke in depth about her students’ progress with constructing explanations using the Explanation Tool, a scaffold for supporting students’ construction of scientific explanations using a claim, evidence, and reasoning structure (McNeill et al. 2006; NRC) that she was introduced to in the MAT program. Preparing teachers to support their students in the NGSS science practices is a central concern of our MAT program. In what ways might core teaching practices, as envisioned in science education scholarship, clarify and strengthen our efforts in helping teachers help their students meet these new standards?
We will use this poster presentation to support discussion about not only how to teach core practices in preservice teacher education, but how to support new teachers in implementing what they have learned in their teacher education programs when they venture out into their school settings. We will examine core practice recommendations in light of our findings: What supports and barriers do new teachers encounter as they attempt to elicit and work with their students’ ideas and experiences in science, and to help them construct explanations? Is it necessary to rethink current constructions of these particular practices for local settings, or should we forge better ways to support our preservice and inservice teachers in learning and implementing them as they are currently constructed? Additionally, how can we utilize the concept of “science teaching core practices” to support teachers in teaching “science practices” as represented in the Framework (NRC, 2012)?