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The Influence of Informal Science Education Experiences on the Development of Two Beginning Teachers’ Science Classroom Teaching Identity

Abstract

In case studies of two first-year elementary classroom teachers, we explored the influence of informal science education (ISE) they experienced in their teacher education program. Our theoretical lens was identity development, delimited to classroom science teaching. We used complementary data collection methods and analysis, including interviews, electronic communications, and drawing prompts. We found that our two participants referenced as important the ISE experiences in their development of classroom science identities that included resilience, excitement and engagement in science teaching and learning–qualities that are emphasized in ISE contexts. The data support our conclusion that the ISE experiences proved especially memorable to teacher education interns during the implementation of the No Child Left Behind policy which concentrated on school-tested subjects other than science.

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Acknowledgments

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0455752. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The Project Nexus research team at the University of Maryland wishes to thank the participants for their time and cooperation in this study.

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Correspondence to Phyllis Katz.

Appendices

Appendix 1

See Table 3.

Table 3 Drawings of science teaching and learning scoring rubric

© 2011 Project Nexus

Appendix 2: Drawings of Science Teaching and Learning Scoring Rubric Supplemental Information Sheet

Experience excitement, interest and motivation to learn about phenomena in the natural and physical world.

  • Look to the mouth on the figures present. If anyone is smiling, give credit (that is, if only the teacher is smiling but the students are not, give credit for smiling or the reverse). If faces are not visible, look for specific indicators of excitement, interest and motivation in thought bubbles or comments.

  • Excitement—thought bubbles or comments expressing excitement (e.g., exclamation marks)

  • Interest—thought bubbles or comments about what is occurring

  • Motivation—thought bubbles or comments expressing eagerness (e.g., “I can’t wait to do this”, “Let’s get started”)

Come to generate, understand, remember and use concepts, explanations, arguments, models and facts related to science.

  • Identify concepts, explanations, arguments, models and facts using these descriptions:

  • Concepts—thought bubbles or comments about bigger science ideas (e.g. energy, evolution)

  • Explanations—thought bubbles or comments about how things are happening

  • Arguments—thought bubbles or comments that compare or respond to alternatives

  • Models—a visual model of three dimensions related to scientific phenomena (not classroom management)

  • Facts—A statement of science learning (e.g. deciduous trees lose leaves in the fall here)

Manipulate, test, explore, predict, question, observe and make sense of the natural and physical world.

  • Identify manipulating, testing, exploring, predicting, questioning, observing, and sense-making using these descriptions:

  • Manipulating—each learner has access to materials in reach or is shown actually touching items (note: manipulating variables for an experiment, see testing below)

  • Testing—thought bubbles or comments that illustrate a trial (“what will happen if…”); presence of testing tools (manipulating variables for an experiment)

  • Exploring—engaged in active science (not only reading books and writing)

  • Predicting—thought bubbles or comments stating what might happen

  • Questioning—students have question marks or actual questions visible

  • Observing—looking intently as individuals or groups at an object or phenomena

  • Sense-making—thought bubbles or comments that indicate students or the teacher are trying to “figure things out,” phrases that begin with “maybe…”

Participate in scientific activities and learning practices with others, using scientific language and tools.

  • Identify participating in scientific activities and learning practices with others, using scientific language, and tools using these descriptions:

  • Participate in scientific activities and learning practices with others—students grouped for interaction

  • Scientific language—use of terms associated with science (such as, comparisons, questions about how))

  • Tools—clearly drawn or unclearly drawn (squiggles) materials available to all learners

© 2011 Project Nexus

Appendix 3

See Table 4.

Table 4 Sample description of Rocky Road (grades 2–3) hands-on/minds on activities (within a context of play, explorations)

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Katz, P., Randy McGinnis, J., Riedinger, K. et al. The Influence of Informal Science Education Experiences on the Development of Two Beginning Teachers’ Science Classroom Teaching Identity. J Sci Teacher Educ 24, 1357–1379 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10972-012-9330-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10972-012-9330-z

Keywords

  • Science teacher education
  • Informal science education
  • Identity development