Pre-Service Education Working Group
Notes from October 5, 2006 PSEWG Telecon


Greg Schultz
Christine Shupla
Art Hammon
Jennifer Grier
Laurie Ruberg
Bill Waller
Stephanie Stockman
Stephanie Shipp

We began with a discussion of the ASP professional development workshop, organized by the professional development team. 

Jennifer gave an overview of their planning, and Greg filled in some of the details from the workshop.  The team started by considering who we should talk to and what would the common ground be.  Each of the two panelists (Pinky Nelson and Rick Pomeroy) spoke for 20 minutes each, followed by a brief question and answer period.  Then there were two small group breakouts, with participants asking questions to the panelists for 11 minutes each and then switching the panelists.  There is information on the workshop, including the powerpoint presentations, at the PSEWG Web site.

There was some discussion on the content delivered; one interesting point mentioned by Pinky was that 17–28% of science teachers lack full certification (based on statistic from NCES).  Another was the interest in developing a pre-service space science course, similar to the “Physics for Elementary Teachers” materials and curriculum that Pinky Nelson’s group uses. Perhaps as a group we could apply for project funding to do this?

The professional development team would like feedback in terms of next steps for our on-going professional development.

Art Hammon spoke on the pre-service efforts at JPL, working with California state universities. 

For the past five years, we have worked with the Chancellor's Office of the California State University System (23 campuses) to find ways of enriching pre-college STEM teacher preparation using NASA resources (speakers, materials, funding). Art stated that the California State University System produces 1/6 of the science teachers in the US.  JPL’s goal is not to provide instruction on how to teach; they work within the science content courses, with a collaboration of a science educator and a university scientist (the lead teacher).  NASA provides the data and access to space scientists, and some existing educational materials (CDROMs, education guides).

JPL has organized and assisted with four CSU-NASA Collaborative summer workshops to involve 35–80  pre-service education students of the CSU system, professors and in-service teachers. This year's course was held at CSU-Fresno under the direction of Dr. David Andrews. The theme was Planetary Geology and was taught by Fresno professor, Kerry Workman-Ford. JPL provided the services of Dr. Randi Wessen and Kevin Hussey who spent a full day introducing planetary geology and visualization of planetary data respectively. Next summer, three courses will be offered at Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo and Fresno.

The JPL Education office has supported Dr. Laura Henriques of CSU-Long Beach for 5 years with presentations to 70–100 pre-service students. Full evening presentations were provided by David Seidel, Carlo Cayetano and Art Hammon. This may have been in relationship to the future science teacher clubs that Art described.  He said that in spite of the short time period, they have had a strong impact on some of these students, receiving follow-up calls years later.

We asked whether the education/scientist collaboration was in place beforehand, or if JPL was involved in creating it.  Art confirmed that JPL helped to create these collaborations, using funding as bait (setting aside research positions for science faculty who were willing to collaborate with education faculty).  The three carrots for faculty buy-in that Art recommends are things that will help faculty with retention, tenure, and promotion.

Art also mentioned that educators perceive NASA material as scientifically accurate, and more trustworthy than Web sites and other produced materials available.

The funding costs for this initiative were high; they had $100,000 to get the pre-service ball rolling with a symposium five years ago; they pay stipends for coordinators and faculty, proof-of-concept.  They rely on strategic funding of key people, hoping that the connections will pay off (and so far, they have).

Christine mentioned that she is putting together a pre-service poster proposal for AAS and invited others to co-author it; Laurie Ruberg and Greg Schultz have volunteered.

We spoke briefly about Columbia’s pre-service posters at ASP (Nicholas & Rachel) — we discussed inviting them to join us on our December PSEWG telecom to let us know how their pre-service astronomy course went, lessons learned, etc.  (Stephanie Stockman will discuss Goddard’s pre-service efforts during the November telecom.)

The discussion then returned back to Art’s presentation. Bill and Greg discussed the distinctions between some programs that do research but do not provide credentials for teachers (such as the UC system) and those programs that build the credentials into the program (such as CSU) and the results in teacher turnout.  Bill also thought that JPL’s offering the pre-service course during the summer was a “nifty trick” because many colleges are reluctant to add more courses during the fall and spring semesters.

Next PSEWG Telecon is scheduled for November 2, 2006