EARTH SCIENCE TEACHERS FOR A COMPETITIVE TOMORROW: INCORPORATING UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES FOR PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS (Invited Presentation)
Because there is no Earth Science teaching certification in our state, students who participated in TCT geoscience research majored in either biological sciences or geosciences, and secondary biology education. Geoscience research opportunities included programs in paleontology, biogeochemistry, and museum sciences and outreach. Pre-service teacher participants conducted literature reviews, designed/conducted experiments, analyzed data, presented research at conferences, and wrote research manuscripts.
Extensive research experiences provided participating pre-service teachers with expanded laboratory skills and superior understanding of the nature of science, which we hypothesized will translate into more effective science teaching. However, Praxis II content scores revealed no significant difference between the university’s TCT participants and non-participating secondary education majors, even though TCT participants averaged 6 additional advanced science courses than their non-participating peers.
Content analysis of the TCT participant interviews revealed teacher enthusiasm for science and confidence in laboratory techniques. Graduating participants stated that they gained specialized science knowledge through TCT, ability to apply knowledge in new situations, awareness of community classroom resources, and collaborative benefits with in-service teachers through summer workshops.
Therefore, we propose that more accurate assessment tools are needed to determine the effectiveness of pre-service geoscience research experiences, including tracking of research participants. Although Praxis assesses scientific content, it does not measure laboratory skills or a researcher’s confidence and effectiveness. Additionally, Praxis does not measure specialized scientific content acquired through research.