North-Central Section - 47th Annual Meeting (2-3 May 2013)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 3:10 PM


MATTOX, Stephen, Geology, Grand Valley State University, 133 Padnos, Allendale, MI 49401-9403,

Michigan Earth science teachers address content in nature of science, astronomy, weather, and geology. A “methods” course was developed to bridge the gap between content courses and the practice of teaching. The course assists in meeting accreditation requirements for the program and for preparation for the MTTC. Course work consists of pre-/post-tests, addressing state and Next Generation science standards, experience with existing teaching materials, design of new inquiry-based instructional materials, class projects that incorporate nature of science, observing a science teacher, and the opportunity to attend a MSTA meeting.

Pre-/post-tests include the Astronomy Diagnostic Test and the Geology Concept Inventory. The tests evaluate student understanding and prior experiences, role of required college courses, and impact of current instruction. Standards are introduced at the start of each discipline and within lessons. During most classes students work through exceptional existing curriculum that address key concepts or content, such as NASA Astrobiology, American Metrological Society DataStreme, or materials from NSTA or SERC. Students use the BSCS description of writing 5E, inquiry-based lessons and are required to write a lesson to address a standard or need. Some students elevate their writing to materials that are presented at science teacher meetings or published in peer-reviewed science education journals. To address larger projects all students work on a single lesson. Topics have included the 1904 flood in Grand Rapids, how science is presented in newspapers, how geoscientists are portrayed in college textbooks, and the historical development and teaching of absolute time. The class exercise provides insights into the nature of science and in collaborative writing, peer review, and presentation of scientific work. Students are required to observe a local teacher and report on content, teaching style, classroom management, and success of the lesson. Students are encouraged to join and attend meetings of science teacher associations.

Student evaluations and alums are positive regarding the course. Students are better prepared for their College of Education teaching experiences and do better on certification exams. They establish professional habits that carry forward in their careers.