Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM


CHEEK, Kim A., Childhood Education, Literacy, & TESOL, University of North Florida, 1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32224,

The Next Generation Science Standards provide an opportunity for geoscientists to support K-12 science education. Support for elementary science programs is especially important because girls and minority students often develop negative attitudes toward science in middle childhood. Much university involvement in K-12 education proceeds from a paradigm of the university professor as expert and the K-12 classroom teacher as novice. University faculty members conduct professional development for teachers around specific science content. Teachers are then expected to return to their classrooms and teach similar lessons to their students. This model provides K-12 teachers with knowledge and teaching ideas, but fosters an uneven relationship between stakeholders, especially in elementary schools where teachers frequently have low self-efficacy about their geoscience content knowledge and ability to teach science concepts.

An alternate model is one in which university and school district professionals meet as equal collaborators and recognize the expertise of one another. The Professional Development School (PDS) model is a sustained partnership in which a higher education faculty member spends considerable time in a K-12 school working with pre-service and in-service teachers, as well as K-12 students. The advantage to this model is that it provides on-the-spot opportunities for shared instructional decision making and trouble-shooting as lessons proceed. Challenges arise as the two cultures with different values, ways of communicating, and accomplishing tasks navigate the shared space. Typically, PDS partnerships exist between K-12 schools and Colleges of Education, but aspects of the model are adaptable for partnerships involving science faculty members.

Information will be shared about a PDS partnership between professional staff at a high poverty urban elementary school and a university science teacher educator who is a geoscientist. The focus will be on the role of the university faculty member, lessons learned regarding the challenges of such collaborative partnerships, and the ways in which the model could be adapted for geoscience faculty members.