Preservice Teachers and Their Preconceptions of the NGSS Science and Engineering Practice of Developing and Using Models in Elementary Science Education
University of Kansas
Curriculum and Teaching
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The science and engineering practice of developing and using models is a new science practice identified to achieve the vision of three-dimensional teaching and learning and as such should be an important new component of teacher preparation programs (NRC, 2012). Developing and using models is a high-leverage practice in teacher preparation because of the use of discourse in its implementation that is also used in other practices utilized within the NGSS (NGSS Lead States, 2013) science classroom. Additionally, the overlap between the other seven identified NGSS (NGSS Lead States, 2013) practices and the development and use of models along with the use of models represented in two of the overall three dimensions of the new vision for science education (NRC, 2012) contribute to its high leverage nature. The intent of this study was to examine elementary science preservice teachers’ understandings and preconceptions about the practice of developing and using models. This study provides important information for teacher preparation to use this high-leverage practice. The study examined preservice teachers’ preconceptions about the practice of developing and using models including discourse patterns the preservice teachers identified as being critical to the success of this practice in the classroom. Data were gathered through a written survey in which preservice teachers described their initial understanding about different components of modeling instruction. A video was used to elicit their initial understandings about certain components of modeling instruction. A sample of the preservice teachers were interviewed to elaborate on their responses to the survey. The results of the study indicated that when preservice teachers initially described how this practice might look in the classroom, only two of the six categories described in A Science Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012) for this practice were described by most participants. Of those two categories described by most participants, the majority were at a novice level. When noticing critical student-student and student-teacher discourse patterns in a video, preservice teachers were better able to identify more components described in the Talk Science Primer (Michaels & O’Conner, 2012) at slightly higher levels. These results emphasize the necessity for elementary teacher education to provide opportunities for preservice teachers to better understand the practice of developing and using models (some components more than others) to use this practice as a high-leverage practice during teacher preparation programs.
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