Paper No. 365-2
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
THE IMPORTANCE OF PRE-SERVICE TRAINING FOR THE SUCCESS OF THE NGSS
Pre-service teacher training is critical to the success of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS arguably represent the largest shift in U.S. K-12 science education of the past century, and will require a wholly new approach toward teacher training before the full impact of the NGSS can be realized. In-service training for current teachers is also important, but given the realities of limited funds and resources for teacher PD, a fully effective transition to NGSS-aligned teaching is not realistically possible with the existing teacher work force. There are several reasons for this: (1) NGSS-aligned teaching involves an entirely different approach to teaching, moving away from the “sage on the stage” toward student-centered active learning and problem-based learning methods that have been identified by recent advances in pedagogy and child psychology; (2) NGSS-aligned teaching integrates STEM concepts of the engineering design process and computational methods that have not been part of past traditional science curricula; (3) NGSS-aligned teaching involves a shift away from a dominant focus on the content of science, fostered by the growth of dependencies upon multiple-choice-answered assessments, toward the practices of science, to be assessed through higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy of student cognition, and (4) NGSS-aligned curricula dispense with a view of science as a structure of classifications and categorizations in favor of systems-based learning, epitomized by the Earth Systems Science approach. However, new teachers, trained in the concepts of the NGSS, will face great challenges as they enter the work force. They need to be prepared for an educational system that is weighed down by extreme inertia and be willing to push for educational reforms. New K-5 teachers will need to expand the mean daily science allotment beyond the 20-25 minutes/day that currently exists and is not likely to change, even with the replacement of NCLB by ESSA. And new science teachers will need to be prepared for push-back from parents, administrators, and politicians who still equate science literacy with encyclopedic memory recall. Great patience is needed for the success of the NGSS reforms, and a key part of this is quality pre-service training for future science teachers.