Pre-Service Education Working Group
Notes from March 8, 2007 PSEWG Telecon
Cheri St. Arnauld
Guest (and new working group member): Mike ODell
The first discussion was a presentation by Matt Bobrowsky and Cheri St. Arnauld on NACCTEP and specifically on the workshop Matt presented. It was within the partnership strand of the conference: Using NASA and Space Science Resources to Enhance Teacher Preparation on Saturday, March 3, at 3:00 pm.
- Matt reported having 12 attendees, including 4 administrators, 2 science, 1 education and 1 math faculty, and 1 “supplemental”. Cheri added that this was a good attendance for NAACTEP currently focusing on teacher preparation, and that she had promoted his workshop during her conference opening remarks. Next year attendance should improve with a specific strand designated for mathematics and science faculty.
- The needs assessment Matt conducted indicated a need for
- improved student skills including: math skills (including the ability to calculate), stronger student ability to make observations, think critically, conduct analysis and evaluation, and to be able to take information and infuse it into their curriculum.
- The faculty needed strategies for increasing student competencies and understanding, demonstrations for future teachers, materials to use in future classrooms, everything to be applied to standards (and use the standards to support), up-to-date (latest) science news, and space science applications that demonstrate fundamental principals.
- Challenges for faculty included engaging students, promoting science as an option for teaching, the diversity of their classrooms (including language barriers and differing levels of enthusiasm), retaining students, difficulty finding faculty for process skills, ways to convey technical information to lower grades, and finding information.
- Participants asked for a “learning object repository” such as SSERD (Space Science Education Resource Directory)
- Participants also asked for opportunities for field trips, access to scientists, hands-on activities, and materials
- Bill asked about solutions and approaches for working with community colleges without a teacher preparation strand. Cheri said they have been working with the different states — some will allow community colleges to focus on teacher preparation, while others will not. The state determines whether there is articulation from universities — whether the education courses are transferable. Cheri said that out of the 1600 community colleges in their database, about 900 have a teacher preparation pathway, and some have teacher licensure.
Mike Odell spoke next about NOVA.
- NOVA was a framework to enhance Math and Science for preservice (and for general students), by asking professors to conduct inquiry as a part of their courses
- The program involved 101 universities and ran over a period of 10 years, funding hundreds of courses. They primarily worked with small universities but did include some of the larger ones.
- There is currently an NSF project that tracks the longitudinal results of students: UA Science Education Faculty Awarded $2.1 Million Grant from National Science Foundation
- One of the issues was that the introductory science courses at universities typically targeted different content than what is needed by future K–12 teachers.
- To participate, universities needed to have faculty teams, which could include education, science, math, or technology faculty. The teams went through their science standards together and integrated NASA products into the targeted courses. Teams received professional development, met at NASA Centers and worked together over 3 years.
- Professional development included best practices and instructional strategies, how to write grant proposals, mentoring, leadership development, allowed participants to write dissertations/theses, and during summers they integrated NASA into the curriculum.
- To sustain the collaboration, seed-grant funding was available to those who confirmed that the planned courses would be taught.
- Faculty taught their courses differently — for instance, at Fort Hays (Kansas) they revised all of their science courses to be more appropriate for future teachers, whether they were geared for preservice or not.
- Impacts – Students receiving the altered or new courses understood the nature of science better, but had no difference in achievement in general (although they sometimes out-performed their counterparts)
Later discussion with Mike included current collaboration practices and standards; Mike described the Texas realignments of standards
Jennifer Grier (with additional comments by Laurie Ruberg) then described the Langley Pre-Service Teachers Conference. This was the second time that Jennifer has attended this conference.
- The University of MD Eastern Shore now leads the conference (rather than Norfolk, as in the past)
- This is a “tight community” with students finishing up their education degrees (undergraduates and some grad students, 2–9 from each institution)
- Some faculty also participate (1–2 from each institution)
- There is a wide variety of backgrounds; the conference target is institutions with underserved populations
- It is an intense conference with three days of workshops without any break and a keynote speaker at every meal
- Jennifer’s observations: the pre-service teachers are working at a “practical level.” The meta-level of understanding is not where they are at; they are interested in activities. They were very interested in the activities using simple tools to make observations.
- Participants were confused by various objects (for instance, some had difficulties with protractors)
- Faculty were needed for facilitation in the workshop and were accustomed to doing so — they automatically distributed themselves to assist students in the workshops.
- A unique professional development opportunity for preservice students is a poster competition in which student teams create an abstract, poster presentation, and lesson plan for a science, mathematics, or technology education activity they have prepared to present to an elementary or middle school class. All colleges and universities attending the Preservice Teacher Conference are required to mentor a student team to participate in this competition. The poster presentations are judged by educator leaders either attending the conference or available from the surrounding area. The student posters are reviewed in three rounds of judging.
- The first round of judging identifies the posters that meet the submission criteria and selects those that receive rubric scores within the top half of submissions. Ten poster projects are selected from the second round of judging for the semi-finals. In the final round of judging, the top ten student poster teams participate in a poster review and oral presentation.
- You can review the poster contest guidelines and find out more about the Preservice Teacher Conference on the web at NASA Langley's Research Center Office of Education.