Why do muffins rise in the oven? – The NAU review


Many primary education majors have graduated from teacher preparation programs with incomplete knowledge of science content and limited experience teaching science in a way that has proven to be effective for primary school students.

In fact, the most recent National Science and Mathematics Education Survey found that only 23% of elementary school teachers reported feeling ‘very well prepared’ to support the development of their students’ conceptual understanding of science ideas. . As a result, elementary school students may not receive the science education they need to prepare for the challenges of the 21st century.st century.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded Marti Canipe, Assistant Professor at Northern Arizona University Department of Teaching and Learning, a grant of $ 296,000 for the project “Improving knowledge of the scientific content of majors in undergraduate elementary education through phenomena-based science courses”.

This three-year project will bridge this knowledge and skills gap by developing and evaluating science courses for elementary education majors that target not only the breadth of scientific knowledge needed to teach elementary science, but also a model of effective teaching practices.

Science classes will use phenomena-based teaching methods, which focus on activities that engage students in a range of scientific practices in order to develop evidence-based explanations. For example, to explain why muffins go up in the oven (the phenomenon), students need to understand ideas related to the structure and properties of matter, chemical reactions, and energy. Educational research shows that using real phenomena to teach science, rather than the traditional model of education that relies on rote memorization and recalling facts, is much more effective.

“Unlike high school science teachers who usually specialize in a particular content area, elementary teachers are supposed to be generalists, responsible for teaching all subjects, including science,” Canipe said. “In addition, the elementary sciences at each grade level consist of a mixture of subjects in the life sciences, earth / space and physics. Elementary teachers can also change levels from year to year, making them responsible for teaching a different set of science subjects. A well-prepared elementary school teacher needs a broad understanding of science in all subject areas, in addition to an understanding of effective models of teaching science to elementary school students.

Canipe’s research will contribute to the on-the-ground understanding of how prospective primary school teachers gain in-depth knowledge of science content, building on previous research examining the relationship between science content courses for primary teachers. and their confidence, attitudes and beliefs about self-efficacy.

She will collaborate on the project with the associate professor Ron gray of NAU Science Teaching and Learning Center. The members of the advisory board are Christina Krist from the University of Illinois, Christina Schwarz from Michigan State University, Melissa Braaten from the University of Colorado, and Kristin Gunckel from the University of Arizona. Stefani Chase, doctoral student at the NAU Curriculum and teaching Ph.D. program, will join Canipe on the project.

The science course material developed by the team will be made public. “Teacher educators will be free to adopt and / or adapt the material to suit its context,” Canipe said, “and the material can be adapted for use in learning contexts. professional development for practicing teachers. “

This project has the potential to have a significant impact on science education for undergraduate elementary education students and their prospective primary school students.

“The research and educational results for this project have the potential to extend well beyond the context of a primary education curriculum and to further improve the education of science teachers in primary education,” which in turn has the potential to impact many elementary students from diverse backgrounds in the years to come. , providing a foundation on which they can build scientific understandings throughout their education, ”she said.

Canipe, who was an instructor and graduate student at the University of Arizona before joining NAU in 2016, taught Grades 3 through 8 science for 12 years in North Carolina. She was the Albert Einstein Distinguished Teacher in the NSF’s Office of Polar Programs, where she worked to help polar scientists connect with K-12 classes by developing resources for teachers and scientists to help them integrate their scientific research into schools. His main research interest is the identity of primary school teachers as science teachers.

Kerry Bennett | Office of the Vice-President, Research

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