Lunar and Planetary Institute

Menu of Opportunities for Scientist Involvement in Teacher Preparation

Create Research Opportunities


Doing real research provides first-hand experience as to the nature of science.  Unfortunately, many future teachers and teacher educators who are responsible for teaching science have not had the opportunity for real science research experiences.  Whether you are seeking research assistants in your work, or creating a program specifically geared to act as a research experience for the participants rather than for the scientific results, you may want to consider these often overlooked audiences.

One option for scientists who would like to become involved in the preparation of future teachers is to provide internships/research opportunities for others:

  • science faculty teaching courses taken by pre-service teachers, when faculty are not currently actively engaged in research (such as faculty at smaller colleges and community colleges)
  • science education faculty who have not had the opportunity to experience science research first-hand
  • future teachers

Best Practices for Success

    1. Read the "Before You Begin" information.
    2. Design the research experience with input from (or in partnership with) appropriate individual(s) representative of your target audience, to understand their own goals and to have a better understanding of their experiences and needs.
    3. Determine how much time you can commit to the experience; a research experience could vary from one 1 week to several months; several days minimum will be necessary for a true research experience.
    4. Include time and a plan to facilitate communications and a high level of accessibility between the scientists and the participants.
    5. If you are designing a research experience geared specifically for the participants, be sure to include “real” data, images, etc. rather than creating an artificial laboratory exercise.  Part of the scientific process includes the messy nature of errors, surprising or inconclusive results, uncertainty, data analysis,, etc.  You want this experience to model real research in all ways but time frame.
    6. Create some directions for a next step—the research participants should gain the confidence to do their own research alone afterwards, or have resources to contact for advise, direction, etc.
    7. Arrange for independent evaluation and assessment of the experience—this will allow others to replicate the experience you’ve created after examining the benefits and examining changes for future such experiences.  It will also allow for you or others to publish your findings of the experience as a whole.
    8. Consider providing a mentor for each participant, with mentor training if possible.  Mentors could include other science faculty, graduate students, or teachers.
    9. Include your research participants in reports and authored papers—communicating findings is an important part of the scientific process that they need to experience.

Models of Past and Existing Research Programs for Future Teachers and Faculty


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