2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 16
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


TOTTEN, Iris M., Department of Curriculum & Instruction and Department of Geology & Geophysics, University of New Orleans, Lakefront, New Orleans, LA 70148 and TOTTEN, Matthew W., Department of Geology and Geophysics, Univ of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 70148, itotten@uno.edu

One of the overarching goals in science education is to strengthen the connections between education and science colleges. Science teachers often take science courses for the content and curriculum/instruction courses for the pedagogy. It falls upon the teachers to integrate the two pieces in their classrooms. Degree programs that emphasize science teaching are an ideal setting to combine science education strands with science content objectives.

Several strands in science education place emphasis on understanding: how science is done; who does science; where is the scientific method in real world science; and how can these ideas can be integrated with science content in the K-12 levels? All of these pieces can be found in the real stories of science. An Earth History for teachers course at the University of New Orleans was designed to integrate these science education strands with a historical geology course.

The course included four main components: lab assignments; reflections and journal readings, questions posted weekly on blackboard, a university educational software program, and three major projects with presentations. Lab assignments introduced the fossil record and prepared teachers for the three major projects, which included a Phylum Review/Presentation, and critiques of Night Comes to the Cretaceous and Wonderful Life. Articles were selected from both science and education journals to compliment the topics discussed in class. Teachers posted their journal article reflections on the university blackboard weekly. Questions were also posted on blackboard that specifically addressed how students planned to incorporate their new ideas in their K-12 science classrooms. The four components were intended to layer perspectives from different sources in order to provide a more holistic picture of the story of science.

Feedback from teachers revealed a deeper understanding of how science is accomplished, as a result of the course. Teachers discovered numerous avenues that the science story provides for creative, stimulating geologic discussions with their K-12 students. Teachers also expressed a greater sense of comfort with the ambiguities of science, which is important when presenting science in the classroom.