Pre-Service Elementary Teachers’ Field Experiences in Classrooms Led by Science Specialists

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of preservice elementary teachers in a content-specific field-based experience with elementary science specialists. Data collected from electronic discussions, interviews, and observations in the field revealed preservice teachers experienced a wide range of instructional and assessment strategies in specialists’ classrooms, but failed to generalize aspects of the specialist model of science instruction to traditional models for delivery of science instruction at the elementary level. Implications for supporting preservice teachers’ learning to teach science through participation in a field experience with specialists are discussed.

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Correspondence to Deborah L. Hanuscin.

Appendix: Field Discussion Prompts Provided to Students

Appendix: Field Discussion Prompts Provided to Students

The following are suggested to focus your observations of science teaching in your field placement and guide your discussion in Blackboard. You should log in each week to share your own experiences in the field, as well as respond to the posts of your classmates.

  1. In class, we discuss the use of specialists to teach science. From your conversations with the specialists and your observations of both the regular classroom setting and sessions for science, what do you see as the advantages/disadvantages of this model?

  2. You analyzed your prior science learning experiences by writing a science autobiography. How does the science instruction you observe in your field placement compare to your own experiences?

  3. How do specialists address the state and national standards in their lessons? How do they determine whether students have met these standards?

  4. You have been introduced to a number of questioning strategies in the methods course. How would you characterize the questioning strategies used by the specialist you observe?

  5. You have been introduced to a number of common misconceptions elementary learners hold about science. Do the students with whom you are working have misconceptions you can identify? How do you know?

  6. You are learning about different assessment strategies for identifying students’ prior knowledge, measuring student learning, and evaluating instruction. Describe an assessment used by the specialist you observe. What was the purpose of this assessment? What information was gained through this strategy? How was this information used to improve teaching/learning?

  7. In class, we have explored the use of science notebooks. How are notebooks utilized in the science classroom you observe?

  8. This semester we have focused on inquiry-based instruction. In what types of inquiry do the students in the classroom you observe engage? What is the specialist’s role during inquiry? What is the students’ role?

  9. We use the nature of science as a framework for teaching and learning science in the methods course. How is the nature of science reflected in the lesson you observe? How is the nature of science being conveyed to students?

  10. We have discussed the challenges of managing science instruction in the methods course. What classroom management and materials management strategies have you observed in the field?

  11. You have been introduced to several ways to assist students with special needs in being successful in the science classroom. How do the diverse students in your classroom receive support from the specialist? From other professionals?

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Varma, T., Hanuscin, D.L. Pre-Service Elementary Teachers’ Field Experiences in Classrooms Led by Science Specialists. J Sci Teacher Educ 19, 593–614 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10972-008-9110-y

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Keywords

  • Science Teaching
  • Preservice Teacher
  • Prospective Teacher
  • Science Classroom
  • Elementary Teacher