Journal of Science Teacher Education

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 67–91 | Cite as

Introducing Future Teachers to Science Beyond the Classroom



Informal science education institutions (ISEIs), such as museums, aquariums, and nature centers, offer more to teachers than just field trip destinations—they have the potential to provide ideas for pedagogy, as well as support deeper development of teachers’ science knowledge. Although there is extensive literature related to teacher/museum interactions within the context of the school field trip, there is limited research that examines other ways that such institutions might support classroom teachers. A growing number of studies, however, examine how incorporating such ideas of connections of ISEIs to pre-service teacher education might improve teacher perceptions and awareness. Pre-service elementary teachers enrolled in a science methods class participated in a semester-long assignment which required participation in their choice of activities and events (workshops, field trips, family day activities) conducted at local ISEIs. Students generally saw this embedded assignment as beneficial, despite the additional out-of-class time required for completion. Comparison of pre-/post-class responses suggested that teachers shifted their perceptions of ISEIs as first and foremost as places for field trips or hands-on experiences, to institutions that can help teachers with classroom science instruction. Although basic awareness of the existence of such opportunities was frequently cited, teachers also recognized these sites as places that could enhance their teaching, either by providing materials/resources for the classroom or by helping them learn (content and pedagogy) as teachers. Implications for practice, including the role of ISEIs in teacher preparation and indication, are also discussed.


Pre-service teachers Informal science Museum Field trip Teacher beliefs 


  1. Anderson, D., Kisiel, J., & Storksdieck, M. (2006a). School field trip visits: Understanding the teacher’s world through the lens of three international studies. Curator, 49(3), 365–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, D., Lawson, B., & Mayer-Smith, J. (2006b). Investigating the impact of a practicum experience in an aquarium on pre-service teachers. Teaching Education, 17(4), 341–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bevan, B., & Semper, R. J. (2006). Mapping informal science institutions onto the science education landscape. Center for Informal Learning and Schools. Retrieved from
  4. Bodilly, S., & Beckett, M. K. (2005). Making out-of-school-time matter: Evidence for an action agenda. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.Google Scholar
  5. DeWitt, J., & Osborne, J. (2007). Supporting teachers on science-focused school trips: Towards an integrated framework of theory and practice. International Journal of Science Education, 29(6), 685–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. DeWitt, J., & Storksdieck, M. (2008). A short review of school field trips: Key findings from the past and implications for the future. Visitor Studies, 11(2), 181–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dorph, R., Shields, P., Tiffany-Morales, J., Harty, A., & McCaffrey, T. (2011). High hopes-few opportunities: The status of elementary science education in California. Sacramento, CA: The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd.Google Scholar
  8. Falk, J. H., & Dierking, L. D. (2010). The 95 percent solution. American Scientist, 98(6), 486–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Griffin, J. (2010). Embedded learning and teaching inside and outside the classroom. Paper presented at the meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  10. Griffin, J., & Symington, D. (1997). Moving from task-oriented to learning-oriented strategies on school excursions to museums. Science Education, 81(6), 763–779.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gutwill, J., & Allen, S. (2012). Deepening students’ scientific inquiry skills during a science museum field trip. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 21(1), 130–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Institute of Museum and Library Services. (2005). Charting the landscape, mapping new paths: Museums, libraries, and K-12 learning. Washington, DC: IMLS.Google Scholar
  13. Jung, M. L., & Tonso, K. L. (2006). Elementary preservice teachers learning to teach science in science museums and nature centers: A novel program’s impact on science knowledge, science pedagogy, and confidence teaching. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 18(1), 15–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kisiel, J. (2003). Teachers, museums and worksheets: A closer look at a learning experience. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 14(1), 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kisiel, J. (2005). Understanding elementary teacher motivations for science fieldtrips. Science Education, 89(6), 936–955.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kisiel, J. (2006). An examination of fieldtrip strategies and their implementation within a natural history museum. Science Education, 90(3), 434–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kisiel, J. (2007). Examining teacher choices for science museum visits. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 18, 29–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kisiel, J. (2010). Exploring a school-aquarium collaboration: An intersection of communities of practice. Science Education, 94(1), 95–121.Google Scholar
  19. Kisiel, J. (2011). Why so hard? Gaining insights from schoolteachers and informal science education staff regarding teacher use of ISE resources. Paper presented at the meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Orlando, FL.Google Scholar
  20. Leinhardt, G., & Knutson, K. (2004). Listening in on museum conversations. Walnut Creek, CA: Alta Mira Press.Google Scholar
  21. Luft, J. A., Roehrig, G. H., & Patterson, N. C. (2003). Contrasting landscapes: A comparison of the impact of different induction programs on beginning secondary science teachers’ practices, beliefs, and experiences. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(1), 77–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  23. National Research Council. (2009). Learning science in informal environments: People, places and pursuits. Board of Science Education, Center for Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  24. National Science Board. (2007). A national action plan for addressing the critical needs of the U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics education system. Retrieved from
  25. Olson, J. K., Cox-Petersen, A. M., & McComas, W. F. (2001). The inclusion of informal environments in science teacher preparation. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 12(3), 155–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Opfer, V. D., & Pedder, D. (2011). Conceptualizing teacher professional learning. Review of Educational Research, 81(3), 376–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pajares, F. (1992). Teachers’ beliefs and educational research: Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research, 62, 301–332.Google Scholar
  28. Patrick, H., & Pintrich, P. R. (2001). Conceptual change in teachers’ intuitive conception of learning, motivation, and instruction: The role of motivational and epistemological beliefs. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Understanding and teaching the intuitive mind: Student and teacher learning (pp. 117–143). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  29. Phillips, M., Finkelstein, D., & Wever-Frerichs, S. (2007). School site to museum floor: How informal science institutions work with schools. International Journal of Science Education, 29(12), 1489–1507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Posner, G. J., Strike, K. A., Hewson, P. W., & Gertzog, W. A. (1982). Accommodation of a scientific conception: Toward a theory of conceptual change. Science Education, 66(2), 211–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Schwartz, S., & Noam, G. (2007). Commissioned paper for the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Learning Science in informal environments, Washington, DC.
  32. Smith, T. M., & Ingersoll, R. M. (2004). What are the effects of induction and mentoring on beginning teacher turnover? American Educational Research Journal, 41(3), 681.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Strauss, S. (2001). Folk psychology, folk pedagogy, and their relations to subject-matter knowledge. In B. Torff & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), Understanding and teaching the intuitive mind: Student and teacher learning. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates.Google Scholar
  34. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  35. Tal, R. T. (2001). Incorporating field trips as science learning environment enrichment—an interpretive study. Learning Environments Research, 4(1), 25–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tal, R., Bamberger, Y., & Morag, O. (2005). Guided school visits to natural history museums in Israel: Teachers’ roles. Science Education, 89(6), 920–935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Tal, T., & Morag, O. (2007). School visits to natural history museums: Teaching or enriching? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44(5), 747–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tal, T., & Steiner, L. (2006). Patterns of teacher-museum staff relationships: School visits to the educational centre of a science museum. Canadian Journal of Science, Math & Technology Education, 6(1), 25–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Tilgner, P. J. (1990). Avoiding science in the elementary school. Science Education, 74(4), 421–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Veenman, S. (1984). Perceived problems of beginning teachers. Review of Educational Research, 54(2), 143–178.Google Scholar
  41. Wheatley, K. F. (2002). The potential benefits of teacher efficacy doubts for educational reform. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18(1), 5–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Association for Science Teacher Education, USA 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science EducationCalifornia State University, Long BeachLong BeachUSA

Personalised recommendations