Dr. Sally Welch
LA Bldg., Rm 301
8425 W. McNichols Detroit, MI 48221
How does the Institute of Science and Mathematics Education help teachers teach science?
1. Prepare Effective K-12 Science Teachers
Goal: Prepare K-12 teacher education candidates in the content and practice of science as well as the principles and best practices of imaginative science education. This goal will be met by implementing several American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recommendations regarding the preparation of prospective science teachers.
AAAS recommends that undergraduate teacher education programs be restructured to better prepare candidates in subject matter content and in pedagogical practice, and that college classrooms and laboratories should themselves be models of innovative teaching strategies
Mastery of science content must be ensured
That teachers should have command of the subject matter they teach may seem a statement of the obvious, but the percent of higher education institutions requiring students to take at least one course in the natural sciences dropped from 70 percent in 1964 to 34 percent in 1993. Colleges and universities with a lab science general education requirement dropped from 79 percent in 1964 to 30 percent in 1993. The absence of serious attention to science literacy at the college level is compounded by the fact that most science and mathematics in the elementary grades is taught by generalists who majored in elementary education and who were not exposed to all four natural science areas (physics, biology, chemistry, and geology).
The implications are clear in terms of the quality of science education in many self-contained classrooms. If a child is convinced that the seasons change because of Earth’s changing distance from the sun, it requires excellent knowledge of science and how science is learned to help a child understand the complex and often counterintuitive scientific principles that explain phenomena. At the very least, it is crucial that all science teachers are literate enough in science to address their students’ personal conceptions of scientific phenomena.
Intensive study of a science discipline increases the likelihood that future teachers will be able to understand science at a deep conceptual level and to reflect on important ideas, theories, and applications. AAAS and an increasing number of school districts strongly recommend that prospective science teachers — middle as well as high school — major in science.