The Moon Investigation: Instructional Strategies for Elementary Science Methods

Abell, Sandra and George, Melissa and Martini, Mariana (2002) The Moon Investigation: Instructional Strategies for Elementary Science Methods. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 13 (2). pp. 85-100. ISSN 1046-560X, 1573-1847

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The current research on how students learn (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999) suggests roles for teachers that differ from the roles they have assumed in the past—roles that include facilitating student talk, student inquiry, and student conceptual understanding. The kinds of learning opportunities we provide for preservice teachers, therefore, must prepare them to think in new ways about teaching and learning, by developing subject-specific pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 1986). We have designed our elementary science methods course in order to provide these types of teacher learning opportunities. The course, organized around what we call a reflection orientation (Abell and Bryan, 1997), helps students to build their theories of science teaching and learning as they: (a) observe others teach, (b) reflect on their own teaching, (c) read and discuss expert theories, and (d) examine themselves as science learners. In this latter context, students engage in a 6-week study of phases of the moon (Cooper, 1997; Duckworth, 1987; Elementary Science Study, 1968; Moore, 1994; van Zee, 1998; 2000) during which they make observations and keep records of their sightings, participate in large group data sharing and small group problem solving, and reflect on their learning experiences. We refer to the collective activities of studying the moon as the moon investigation. The purpose of this paper is to discuss our goals for the moon investigation and the methods we have used to enact and assess the moon investigation in an elementary science methods course. We have designed a rich set of instructional strategies that helps preservice teachers build their science and pedagogical theories; we present student responses to illustrate the ways they engage in activities and the types of learning outcomes that have been achieved. We believe that our experiences with the moon investigation can inform other science teacher educators who are helping their students build coherent theories of science teaching and learning.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Astronomy Education Research
Depositing User: Dr Michael Fitzgerald
Date Deposited: 23 Dec 2017 01:03
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2018 05:35

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