Paper No. 33-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM
RECOGNIZING AND COMBATING TEACHER MISCONCEPTIONS AND ANXIETIES RELATED TO THE MIDDLE SCHOOL EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCES DISCIPLINARY CORE IDEAS IN NGSS
The Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are grouped into the broad disciplinary areas of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Earth and Space Sciences, and Engineering, Technology and Application of Science, and feature learning progressions based on endpoint targets for each grade band. Since the Middle School DCIs build on the expected learning achievements to be reached by the end of Fifth Grade, and High School DCI similarly build on the expected learning achievements expected for the end of Eighth Grade, the Middle School grade band is especially interesting (and important). There is also copious research demonstrating that Middle School grades are the time that many potential scientists are lost to the “leaky pipeline”, especially girls and students of color. In addition, in states where there is not a special Middle School Certification many of these science classes are taught by teachers prepared to teach at the Elementary level (who may have limited content background). Thus some pre-service and in-service Elementary certified teachers often express reduced self-confidence in their science content knowledge. Finally, decades of research has demonstrated the pervasiveness of science misconceptions among in-service and pre-service teachers.
Therefore it is not surprising that Elementary certified teachers in particular have voiced apprehension at the expectations of NGSS. Thus the adoption of NGSS has the potential to drive talented teachers out of the profession who feel that they are ill-prepared for this sweeping transition. The key is providing rigorous education in both content and pedagogy for pre-service teachers and quality targeted professional development for in-service teachers.
This presentation will focus on the Middle School Earth and Space Sciences grade band DCIs and present research on both the common misconceptions held by teachers and students, as well as specific difficulties and uncertainties with the material demonstrated by pre-service Elementary certification students over the past three years in a required content course. This information is relevant to the development of both new content courses aligned with NGSS for pre-service teachers and professional development for in-service teachers.