• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 10:05 AM


BYKERK-KAUFFMAN, Ann, Geological and Environmental Sciences, California State Univ, Chico, 400 W. 1st St, Chico, CA 95929-0205,

At CSU Chico, most pre-service elementary school teachers complete a sequence of five lab-based science courses that are specifically designed for them. Two of these courses offer teaching experiences. In recent years, students in the Concepts in Earth and Space Sciences course have gained teaching experience in one of three ways:

Group 1: Teaching each other about the results of their independent research on the moon (N = 120).

Group 2: Teaching children about the causes of the seasons (N = 127).

Group 3: Teaching children about both the causes of the seasons and the phases of the moon (N = 93)

For the latter two groups, local teachers brought their classes to campus. Pairs of college students guided sets of 2-4 children (age 9-14) through 90-minute hands-on guided-discovery lessons; each college student taught each topic to two different sets of children.

In order to assess whether these teaching experiences enhanced student learning, I administered pre- and post-course knowledge surveys on the phases of the moon (slightly modified from the Lunar Phases Concept Inventory survey posted at Normalized gain over the semester on the concept inventory averaged 44% for Group 1, 37% for Group 2 and 48% for Group 3. Thus the teaching of a particular topic improved student understanding of that topic, but the effect was greater when the students taught children, rather than peers.

For Group 3, I also assessed students’ perceptions of the value of the teaching experiences by analyzing end-of-semester essays in which students commented on the value of various aspects of the course. Almost all of the students (88%) found the teaching experience valuable; more than half (51%) said it was the most valuable aspect of the entire course. One student wrote, "You can learn so much just from teaching a lesson, and even more when you reflect on your teaching. I wish we would have had a chance to teach every lab we did in class.” Another wrote, "I hope that I get to participate in a teaching experience like this again in my college career because it was the most beneficial thing I have done in a class."

Aside from the educational benefit for the college students, these teaching experiences have also contributed to the science education of local school children and enhanced university connections with local school teachers.

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