Teaching Earth Science in Data Rich Environements (TESciDRE)
Tenure life becomes more enjoyable when you have a research collaborator that values your ideas and encourage you to work on those ideas. When I started working at Towson University, I was very lucky to meet Dr. Joel Moore who is a geoscientist and very passionate about teaching. Right after I moved to Maryland, I gained more personal interest to Geosciences as I started rock climbing, hiking around MD and did the most exciting backpacking trip of my life in West Virginia where I climbed by gaining 1500 feet of elevation over 3.8 miles in the Big Schloss Trail. My interest to Geosciences and Dr. Moore's interest in innovating his teaching brought us together.
One activity he liked and used in his classes has been an inquiry based classroom exercise that includes world maps displaying four types of data: seismology, volcanology, geochronology and geography. The aim of the exercise is to engage students to observe, describe and classify the data on the maps to make sense of the world’s plate boundaries (see http://terra.rice.edu/plateboundary/home.html). As we started our discussions on this activity, I decided to revise the activity for the Earth and Space Science Course that I am developing for majors of the middle school science program. Our collaboration around teaching Plate Tectonics lead to our current research program and we recently submitted a grant proposal to Towson University FDRC Grant (Faculty Development Research Center). During the first part of the study, we are planning to work with novice teachers (middle school science teaching program majors) to develop a learning progression sequence on plate tectonics. based on the expectations from the two documents: Prepare Teachers with a Vision of Science Education for 21st Century: A Framework for K-12 Science Education:Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (2011) and Science College Board Standards for College Success (2009). For the second part of the project, we aim to work with practicing (professional) teachers to revise our learning progression sequence as well as the assessment artifacts. In the long term plan, we also aim to work on other Earth Science Unifying Themes. We currently started building collaborations with a suburban middle school who are willing to work in our project.
Getting Started: Novice Teachers’ Learning to Teach Plate Tectonics in Data Rich Environments
The objective of the proposed study for the FDRC grant is to improve this data-rich exercise by producing teaching and assessment materials and create a LP. sequence on plate tectonics (the successively more sophisticated ways of thinking on plate tectonics) as students move from grades 5 to 8. During Spring 2012, the research will answer the following questions:
What are novice science teachers’ challenges with learning plate tectonics?
What are novice teachers’ challenges with teaching plate tectonics?
What is a proposed Learning Progression sequence for plate tectonics from 4 to 8th grades?
What are the assessment frameworks/artifacts used to understand student progression of learning
about plate tectonics?
Learning Progressions, Learning Trajectories &
During my third year at Penn State, I had a chance to work with Dr. Richard Duschl and I have been impressed with his dedication to research and young scholars during our time together. Our work and exchanging ideas about "assessment for learning" in science education followed by our study on the review of learning progression studies.
For our study, our aim was to answer the following questions:
How are LP being created? Whatdecision criteria and frameworks are being used to arrive at or propose a ‘hypothetical learning progression or trajectory’?
How are LP being validated and described? What measurements, evidence and contexts are being used to empirically establish and refine a ‘hypothetical learning progression or trajectory’?
Developing Models of Informal Formative Assessments (IFA) for Science Classrooms
My research on Informal Formative Assessments (IFA) was my work with four inservice teachers in public school of central PA under the guidance of my PhD advisor Dr. Greg Kelly. Greg helped me grow as an academician, with experiences in research and writing, and by modeling his strong work ethic. I am honored to have worked with a person who really knows how to value and respect the ideas and experiences of a young scholar. Dr. Carla Zembal-Saul has been a great help during this study especially during my assimilation to the worlds of teachers as having the roles of a researcher. Her exceptional sense of empathy was made most of the difficult steps possible during this study.
In this study, we worked with practicing teachers to understand the use of these assessment activities constructed through teacher-student discursive moves. The assessments examined in this study are referred to “Informal Formative Assessments (IFA).” (Bell and Cowie, 2001). IFA are constructed through the discursive moves between teachers and students during everyday instruction and do not require any official or written record keeping. The purposes of IFA include improving students’ learning and teachers’ frequent recognition of student understanding. Through observations in middle school science classrooms and teachers’ guided reflections on their practice, the study aims to achieve two overarching goals: (a) Develop a IFA model for middle school science classrooms, which is theoretically plausible and practically efficient for teachers’ implementation. (b) Examine teachers’ reflections on video-cases to determine the influence of such reflections on evolving teaching and assessment practices and perspectives. In addition to these primary goals, the data collection process led to an emergent goal of fostering teachers’ reflections on IFA as an intervention in the process of developing an IFA model. To achieve these goals, following questions were addresssed:
- In what ways do middle school science teachers use IFA prior to having opportunities to engage in video case reflections regarding their assessment practices?
- What are the middle school science teachers’ reflections on their use of IFA?
- In what ways do video case reflections on assessment activities change middle school science teachers’ IFA perspectives and practices as stated by teachers?
- What models of IFA do middle school teachers develop?
- What are the challenges middle school science teachers faced during the implementation of IFA practices?
NARST 2011 Presentation on Informal Formative Assessment @Indianapolis
Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as a Data Analysis Framework
In this study, we examined preservice teachers’ reflections on their microteaching experience. The study has two purposes. First, through the application of two analytical frameworks (sociolinguistics and activity theory) we examine what preservice science teachers observe while learning to teach science. This was accomplished through detailed discourse analysis of the preservice teachers’ reflections on their own practice. Second, we consider how each of these analytic frameworks offers different insights into the social phenomena. One analytic approach takes a sociolinguistic perspective and examines how contexts are constructed through language. The second approach drew from cultural historical activity theory (CHAT), which is a systematic way to understand the complex human activity within a social community (Engström, 1987). By applying these two contrasting frameworks we were able to assess how these relatively new approaches to the study of the discourse of teacher education contribute to understandings about teaching and how CHAT can advance our analyses of reflections.
Working with 23 preservice teachers (secondary school science education majors), we aimed to answer the following overarching question:
- What do pre-service teachers notice and attend to in their observations of their own teaching?
2) within CHAT framework