2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 2:05 PM


NAGY-SHADMAN, Elizabeth, Geological Sciences, California State University Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8266 and PETCOVIC, Heather, Department of Geosciences and The Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University, 1187 Rood Hall, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, elizabeth.nagy-shadman@csun.edu

Classroom instructors in college and university geoscience departments are increasingly called upon to teach lecture-based earth science courses exclusively designed for pre-service K-8 teachers. Because most geology instructors have never been introduced to the specific needs of this particular student population, they may be unprepared for their unique requirements. Teaching earth science to future K-8 teachers is different from teaching “general education” geology courses to non-majors in the following ways: (1) students need to embrace (rather than cram and forget) the content because they will be expected to teach it to others, (2) students should understand the nature of science (NOS), i.e., science as a human endeavor and how scientific knowledge is developed, (3) students need to understand the connection between course content and the relevant state/national science content standards, (4) students need to be armed with an arsenal of earth science resources (e.g., scientifically accurate websites) for circumstance that will inevitably arise when they are teaching, (5) major misconceptions, such as those related to the cause of seasons, are crucial to eliminate lest they be propagated to future generations, and (6) you as the instructor are an important role model for how to teach science, and how to adjust your lessons based on the needs of the learners. By placing emphasis on concerns 2 and 3 (NOS and connections to standards) during lecture, students will be more likely to appreciate the relevance of what they learn for their future career needs, and the content (concern 1) will, in turn, become less overwhelming. Devising assignments related to investigations, rather than regurgitating facts, can help with concern 4. To address concern 5 we have surveyed pre-service teachers for three semesters to identify the most common earth science misconceptions that exist among these students. On the basis of our findings we attempt to install an overarching focus throughout the semester that successfully dispels a handful of the more pervasive misconceptions. Concern 6 involves modeling teaching techniques that help effective teachers transfer content knowledge to students. Incorporating Student Response Technology into lectures is one way to provide a unique opportunity to model teaching strategies.