Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:35 AM
PREPARING FUTURE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS BY HELPING THEM OVERCOME THEIR FEAR OF SCIENCE
One of the challenges of preparing future elementary school teachers is that many of these students are resistant to and/or afraid of science. The key to helping them to develop as teachers is to get them excited about the concepts they are learning. An introductory course, Earth System Science, was developed to meet the specific needs of pre-service elementary school teachers at University of the Pacific (a private comprehensive university in CA). This course is generally taken in the second semester of the freshman year and is the first of three science courses that the students take (followed by biology and physics). The course format includes both lecture and collaborative-learning activities. In addition many models, analogies, and manipulatives are used to accommodate a variety of learning styles. The small class size (30) facilitates keeping all students engaged in class. “Clickers” are used daily to facilitate review and encourage class participation. Students report that the use of the clickers is fun and gets them more interested in the class. The laboratory portion uses a variety of approaches, which students can adapt to any grade level. Lab assignments, designed to facilitate the understanding of course concepts, include field studies, web-based research projects, and hands-on in-lab investigations. Students are required to keep a course journal as way of reflecting on what and how they are learning. Some of the required entries ask students to describe how they will use the course material in their classrooms in the future. Other required entries have students plan how they would integrate earth science concepts throughout the curriculum (including math, language arts, social studies, art and music, in addition to science lessons). Students report that they refer back to the journal when they take their science pedagogy class later on. Students report significant gains in enthusiasm for and confidence in science as a result of the course.