ANDRAGOGY IN EARTH SCIENCE TEACHER PREPARATION (Invited Presentation)
(1) Involvement – Adult learners must be partners in their own education;
(2) Experience – Doing, including making mistakes, is essential to adult learning;
(3) Relevance – Work must have immediate impact on the lives of adult learners;
(4) Problem-Focus – Adult learning centers on problem solving rather than content memorization (Knowles, et al. 1984).
Earth sciences teacher preparation is particularly well-suited to adapting and implementing andragogy in the classroom because of our emphasis on practical education. Geosciences educators at all grade levels must master and then engage their students with:
- Field work
- Laboratory work
- Identification/classification activities
- Math skills, including introductory statistics or data visualizations (charts/graphs)
- Technology use, like mobile devices for mapping or data collection, analysis, and communication.
- Lifelong learning, especially regarding Earth systems science and astronomy. For example:
- As climate change models improve, student engagement with and understanding of datasets must also evolve.
- New discoveries within and outside our solar system require on-going re-assessment of prior knowledge and existing paradigms.
Teachers as well as the students they teach benefit from learning to embrace failure, including incomplete knowledge. Adult learners are particularly challenged by new ways of thinking about their physical environment.
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) and the National Research Council’s 2012 Framework for K-12 Science Education include many aspects that align K-12 student education more closely to modern precepts of andragogy. For example, the emphasis on practical science and engineering performance expectations encourages self-direction and empowerment through personal experience, relevance, and ownership of ideas. Crosscutting relationships help younger students to make cognitive links and to think more like adults.
Incorporating andragogy concepts and practices in geosciences teacher education helps teacher candidates and currently active teachers learn as they intend to teach, with focus on personal autonomy as well as professional and disciplinary competencies.