South-Central Section - 47th Annual Meeting (4-5 April 2013)

Paper No. 31-3
Presentation Time: 2:10 PM


DUNN, Dr. Dennis, Center for Inquiry in Math and Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712,

The University of Texas at Austin has developed and implemented an integrated evidenced-based earth science curriculum for pre-service elementary teachers. This curriculum encourages reasoning instead of the more traditional memorization of scientific facts. By turning content into inquiry-based learning, we appear to be achieving our goals of producing elementary teachers with increased core knowledge and improved attitudes toward science. We measure this progress by utilizing misconception-oriented standards to show the progress that has been made in comparison to more traditional science classes.

All lessons use experimentation and discovery to develop evidence-based models to explain the observations. Each lesson has a consistent structure including: initial ideas, interpretation of observed evidence, and group discussion of summarizing questions to reach a consensus. A Geologic Time lesson uses sand models to discover the relative-age dating principles of superposition and original horizontality. Combined with a hands-on lesson on radioactive decay and half-life, students are able to synthesize a realistic geologic history of the Grand Canyon. Pre-service teachers learn in the same method in which they should teach – learning facts by discovery and development of evidence-based models. Teachers completing the program report increased interest and confidence in teaching earth sciences.