Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 8:50 AM
REGIONAL COLLABORATION TO IMPROVE SCIENCE CONTENT COURSES FOR PRE-SERVICE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), Lewis and Clark Community College, and Southwestern Illinois College have partnered to share a two-semester science content course for elementary education majors. The course provides instruction in biology, chemistry, physics, and earth sciences emphasizing hands-on activities and using a guided-inquiry approach. The goal is to model effective science instruction so that the teacher candidates, once certified, will be able to deliver high quality science instruction in their own classrooms. By partnering with two local community colleges that provide about half of all elementary education majors at SIUE, the project helps ensure that all graduates have acquired similar science knowledge and skills. Community college and SIUE instructors meet to ensure the course offerings at all locations are similar and transferable. The curriculum is a series of modules consisting of written materials for instructors and students and kits containing the supplies needed to complete the lessons. The kits have been replicated at all three institutions. The earth sciences portion of the course covers plate tectonics, weather and climate, mapping, structures, geologic time, biogeochemical cycles, erosion and soils, and rocks and minerals. The course also requires a project and a service component, such as volunteering for the Regional Science Fair. The course is supported by a STEM Resource Center that loans or makes available for purchase supplies, materials, and curricula that the pre-service teachers can access for projects or designing demonstration lessons. A notable success of the project is the development of “open source” teaching modules, which are designed for easy adoption and have been especially valuable for instructors who are new to working with pre-service elementary teachers. Major challenges were differences in course sequencing between the university and the community colleges and varying levels of faculty expertise in earth sciences across the three institutions.