Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 3:40 PM
GEOSCIENCE ENGAGEMENT OF PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS THROUGH FIELD BASED LEARNING AT THE TWO-YEAR COLLEGE
The American Association of Community Colleges notes that almost half of all teachers receive at least part of their education at two-year colleges. This makes two-year colleges a logical intervention point to promote science literacy, build greater earth science familiarity, and recruit geoscience interest in K-8 teachers. We have developed Earth Science for Elementary Teachers, an 11-day interdisciplinary, immersive, inquiry based field study course geared for pre-service K-8 teachers pursuing the Associate in Arts in Teaching degree at Metropolitan Community College – Kansas City. The field study curriculum is designed to incorporate both geology and biology topics illustrating the cross-discipline nature of science education. All learning takes place in the field setting in which participants build a tool-kit of basic earth science concepts and learning activities designed to incorporate into the elementary school classroom. The final project for the field study is for student participants to cooperatively develop a lesson plan addressing Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as being adopted by Missouri and 25 other states. The field based experience coupled with constructing a lesson plan provides a pragmatic approach as pre-service teachers are learning how to bridge content and pedagogy with state and national standards.
A mixed method study using participant interviews and a student experience survey were utilized to examine student confidence, attitudes, and value of science at the conclusion of the field study. Field study course participants report positive attitudes toward science related topics and report a greater understanding of the relationships between fields of science. Our findings indicate student participants perceive value in: (1) hands on learning, (2) renewed or greater appreciation of the natural world, and (3) greater comfort level in teaching geoscience concepts. Our observations suggest that pre-service teachers engaged in field based learning gain greater interest in earth science related topics, have improved science literacy, and are equipped with tools to teach science concepts in an engaging manner.