- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1557283
- First Name Trish
- Last Name Stoddart
- Discipline Other: Science Teacher Preparation
Elisa Stone, University of California, Berkeley, firstname.lastname@example.org; Alan J. Daly, University of California, San Diego, email@example.com; Sandra J. Carlson, University of California, Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org; Julie A. Bianchini, University of California, Santa Barbara, email@example.com
Stacey L. Carpenter, University of California, Santa Barbara, firstname.lastname@example.org; Alexandria K. Hansen, California State University, Fresno, email@example.com; Meghan Macias, University of California, Santa Barbara; firstname.lastname@example.org; Erik Arevalo, University of California, Santa Barbara, email@example.com; Elisa M. Stone, University of California, Berkeley, firstname.lastname@example.org; Julie A. Bianchini, University of California, Santa Barbara, email@example.com
The Science and Mathematics Teacher Research Initiative (SMTRI) is a Phase IV Noyce award that addresses a critical challenge in STEM education: how to prepare beginning secondary science and mathematics teachers to provide effective instruction to an increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse student population. The SMTRI project brings together researchers from six University of California (UC) campuses to examine the impact of a UC undergraduate STEM education program and graduate programs of teacher education on the development of beginning teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, and practices regarding reform-based instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse students. For the analysis presented here, we focused on preservice science teachers’ understanding of effective instruction for diverse learners.
We examined how preservice science teachers attended to principles of reform-based instruction for diverse learners over the course of their teacher education programs. Our specific research questions were: (1) What did preservice science teachers understand about engaging students in cognitively demanding work? (2) What did they understand about building on students’ funds of knowledge, providing students with opportunities for language production, and supporting students’ academic language in intersection with engaging students in cognitively demanding work?
Our conceptual framework was based on four interrelated principles of effective science instruction for diverse learners: (1) engaging students in cognitively demanding work, (2) building on students’ funds of knowledge and other resources, (3) providing students with language production opportunities, and (4) attending to academic language demands and providing academic language supports. We used these principles as an analytic framework¬ to determine what to look for regarding preservice teachers’ understanding of effective instruction for diverse learners. We qualitatively analyzed interview data from 28 preservice secondary science teachers from three teacher education programs (TEPs). The preservice teachers were interviewed twice: once toward the beginning of their TEPs and once at the end of their TEPs. We analyzed transcript data using two cycles of coding, establishing inter-coder reliability for both cycles.
We found that preservice teachers talked about engaging students in cognitively demanding work in general to specific ways. In their general descriptions of cognitively demanding work, preservice teachers talked about the importance of learning science by doing science or through inquiry and/or hands-on work. In contrast, in their more specific descriptions, they elaborated about the science and engineering practices in which they engaged students or in which students can and should engage. Further, we found that preservice teachers most frequently discussed the principle of providing language production opportunities in intersection with cognitively demanding work. They tended to discuss how students produced written and oral language associated with specific science and engineering practices, such as the practice of engaging in argument from evidence. Finally, we found that preservice teachers discussed the principle of building on students’ funds of knowledge and other resources in intersection with cognitively demanding work the least. When they did talk about students’ funds of knowledge and other resources, they sometimes did so in deficit ways.
This study addresses the critical challenge of how to prepare beginning science teachers to provide reform-based science teaching in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms. We analyzed interview data to examine preservice science teachers’ understanding of four principles of reform-based science instruction for diverse learners. Our findings indicate areas where TEPs can better support preservice teachers, such as with building on and using students’ funds of knowledge. Our next steps include an examination of the similarities and differences among the three TEPs. This project was a collaboration among multiple institutions to collectively study science teacher education. Studies of teacher education are often small in scale and typically consist of case studies of individual courses. Thus, additional cross-case analyses of preservice teachers and TEPs will be valuable in generating findings that can more broadly impact teacher education policy and practice, especially regarding issues of equity and diversity in science teaching.