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Professional Development for Pre- and In-Service Educators
B. Eisenhamer, J.D. McCallister, L. Knisely, H. Bradbury (STScI)
Tucson ASP  EPO Conference (September 2005)

 College professors are using Amazing Space Formal education materials to teach pre-service educators. This unexpected impact study finding prompted the team to investigate further. Using the model developed to fulfill the professional development needs of the K 12 education community, the team is conducting a similar needs assessment with the pre-service education community. The purpose is to identify the role that Amazing Space can play and whether or not the K-12 professional development materials and trainings already developed can be used with professors of pre-service teachers and/or college students preparing to be teachers.

 K-12 Educator Findings

K-12 educators state:

  • They are often intimidated by technology.
  • They lack comprehensive space science background knowledge.
  • They are unaware of student misconceptions and how to remedy them.
  • It is difficult to match Hubble science content with K-4 curriculum standards.

 K-12 educators need:

  • User-friendly resources that can be modified for their specific classroom teaching.
  • Curriculum support tools ranging from modular activities to comprehensive unit plans.
  • Suggestions for how to use current Hubble discoveries/images in the classroom.
  • Materials that will enhance the curriculum with current science content.
  • Resources that cover specific topics like gravity, light/color, creating and interpreting graphs.
  • Supplemental space science materials that engage and inspire students.

Meeting the Needs of K-12 Educators

The Amazing Space education program is designed to compliment the professional development needs of the K-12 education community. The program addresses both the science content and pedagogical aspects of professional development. Amazing Space resources and professional development materials have:

  • Extensive science background information in Q&A format.
  • Extensive teacher pages addressing student misconceptions, national education standards, technology integration, etc.
  • Suggestions for how to develop interdisciplinary activities using science content reading materials.
  • Suggested teaching approaches that emphasize real-life connections.
  • An emphasis on process skills and critical thinking.
  • Suggested techniques for how to successfully integrate current science content into the curriculum.
  • Recommended methods for how to identify and remedy student misconceptions in science.

Colleges of Education Findings

Colleges and universities have been identified as using Amazing Space resources to assist pre- and in-service educators to:

  • Integrate technology into the curriculum
  • Enhance curriculum content with current scientific discoveries
  • Relate education standards to classroom lesson plans
  •  In a preliminary investigation of college of education professors, we found that:
  • Training materials and resources used by education professors must be current and relevant.
  • Education professors state that they have a limited amount of time to teach science content.
  • Education professors state that they could benefit from professional development training in science content.
  • Technology s role in education is increasing and must be integrated into the college of education department s program of study.

Exploring New Directions

We are in the preliminary phase of investigating the professional development needs of the pre-service education community. Based on our findings to date, our plan is to continue assessing the needs of the community to identify the role that Amazing Space can play in educating pre-service teachers. We are considering the following questions.

  • Is there an opportunity for an E/PO program to form partnerships with the pre-service community?
  • Are the resources and professional development materials designed for the K–12 classroom educator appropriate for the pre-service educator?
  • Does the pre-service educator and/or the pre-service community have additional professional development needs that the Amazing Space Program can support?