Alignment of Content and Pedagogy in an Earth Systems Course for Pre-Service Middle School Teachers

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Conference Proceeding

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In 2003 the Ohio Department of Education developed the Ohio K-12 Science Content Standards. These new science standards substantially tracked the goals and objectives of The National Research Council's National Science Education Standards. The Ohio K-12 Science Content Standards followed the National Standards in the content areas of Physical Science, Life Science and Earth and Space Science. At the same time, the state's K-12 schools were gearing up for a new high school graduation requirement, the successful passing of a high-stakes Ohio Graduation Test, given during a student's tenth grade year. Earth and Space science questions make up approximately one third of the science test items. To make it more likely that teachers have the requisite science content knowledge Ohio has recently changed from certification of K-12 teachers to a more content rich licensure standard. This new licensure requirement splits the older certification designation of K-8 into the elementary and middle school licensure areas. Under the new licensure requirements middle school licensure candidates wishing to earn a science concentration now have to take 15 semester hours of content class work in Science. The Ohio Department of Education has strongly suggested that teacher preparation institutions develop new courses for middle school educators in all four areas of concentration, including science. In response to this call for new courses science education faculty in all science areas worked together to develop a comprehensive suite of courses that would target the science content standards guidelines in the state and national standards. The newly developed Earth and Space science course is titled Earth Systems. The course carries 4.5quarter hours of credit and is intended expressly for pre-service middle school (grades 4- 9) science teachers. The content is structured around three modules of study that are designed to develop interdisciplinary science content within the context of past, present and future Earth Systems science. Because the course is created for pre-service teachers, the class models the jigsaw teaching technique, an effective and age-appropriate method of science instruction. This enables pre-service teachers to experience a technique they can use in their own classroom. Course content is aligned with all state and national 4-10 Earth/Space Science standards, which supports pre- service Middle School Science teachers by covering the content areas tested in the Praxis Middle School Science test, a requirement for graduation with licensure from Wright State University. It also helps the pre- service teachers gain experience with the content that they will need to teach to their K-12 students, so they will be able to pass the high-stakes Ohio Graduation Test. Assessment of the Earth Systems course suggests that the course leads to increased science content knowledge that leads to success in passing the Praxis Middle Childhood Science Test, and that the pedagogy modeled in the course is used by the pre- service teachers in their own K-12 teaching upon graduation.


Presented at the 2006 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), San Francisco, CA.

Abstract Number ED53B-0862.

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