An Earth Science Course for Pre-Service Teachers
This study examines the design and impact of an earth science pre-service teacher (PT) course created at Kansas State University (KSU). The course connects content with pedagogical modeling for the K-12 classroom. Instruction is supplemented with projects, in-class activities, clicker assessments, and video case studies. The goal was to deliver content and best practice instruction together in a model that PTs could follow when teaching earth science in their K-12 classrooms. Data was collected from 104 PTs enrolled in the course over 3 semesters.
The instructional model used when presenting the course components was the 5 E's Model. It is based on the constructivist approach to learning that states that learners build new ideas on top of their preexisting, old ones. Each of the 5 E's describes a phase of learning, and each phase begins with the letter "E": Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate (Destiny, 2008).
Three different instruments were used to measure the impact of the PT course; university course evaluations, open-ended PT questionnaires, and the Earth and Space PRAXIS test. University course evaluations showed high to very high mean ratings (3.9-4.3) for all of the instructional evaluation categories with PTs reporting the highest mean (4.3) for the "overall effectiveness of the course." Open-ended questionnaires revealed an overwhelmingly positive response for the connection between content instruction and pedagogical preparation. The overall design of the course also had positive feedback with comments indicating the combination of activities helped maintain focus throughout the course. PT scores on the PRAXIS Earth and Space Test were higher than the national average in 83% of the categories with the difference ranging from 1-12%. These scores indicate that students in the EIA PT course were better prepared in five areas of the earth and space science test compared to the national average.