PREPARING PRESERVICE TEACHERS TO ENGAGE IN NGSS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING PRACTICES: THE PATHWAYS TO SCIENCE TEACHING PROGRAM
To address this gap, Pathways to Science Teaching, an NSF-GeoPaths project at Western Michigan University, engages 8 undergraduate future teachers each year in a 10-week summer program that couples water quality research with teaching youth summer camps. Across three years (2018, 2019, and 2021), the program included 16 education majors and 7 science/engineering majors with a strong interest in teaching from highly diverse backgrounds. Participants learned about local water quality issues from community stakeholders, designed and conducted water quality research in local watersheds, and taught water science to grade K-9 youth in summer camps. They communicated research results and camp lessons in both a campus-based open house event and at a professional conference.
NGSS SEPs are highlighted throughout the program, both in framing the water quality research and in the lessons developed for youth camps. Data from the Science Instructional Practices survey (SIPS; Hayes et al., 2016) and post-program interviews suggest that participants report increased knowledge of choosing variables to investigate, data collection and analysis, using models, designing investigations, and arguing from evidence. They also report significant growth in their comfort in teaching youth to design and implement investigations, conduct data analysis, use physical and conceptual models, and argue from evidence. Program evaluation suggests that the Pathways program could be a productive model to improve the preparation of preservice teachers to teach NGSS scientific practices in the context of earth and space sciences.