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Strengthening Elementary Preservice Teachers’ Physical Science Content Knowledge: a 3-Year Study

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Abstract

This study investigated how an intervention consisting of a series of physical science lessons embedded within the elementary science methods course impacted elementary preservice teachers’ (N = 473) science content knowledge as evidenced in their scaled scores for the science content component of a standardized subject certification examinations for elementary teachers (TExES Core Subjects EC-6, Science (804) exam). The science content component of the certification exam was the instrument used to generate data for this study. The independent variables for this study were the timing of the exam attempt compared to the participation in the science intervention. The dependent variables included the scaled score for the exam and the science content competencies. Results for an independent sample t-test indicated that the difference between the mean scores for these two groups was statistically significant (t =  − 4.21, df = 102, p < .001) with the preintervention group scoring lower compared to the postintervention group. Mean scores for the exam were higher (MS = 57.7%, SD = 29.8%) than the mean score for exam attempts occurring before the intervention (MS = 44.4%, SD = 29.2%). The results suggest that the intervention implemented as part of the science methods course had a positive impact on prospective teachers. That is, their science content knowledge resulted in an increased passing rate on the certification exam.

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Correspondence to Christopher Sean Long.

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The University of North Texas Institutional Review Board has reviewed and approved the research. The approval number/ID is Human Subjects Application No. IRB-19–531.

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Appendix A Peer Evaluation Rubric

Appendix A Peer Evaluation Rubric

Criterion

Absent (0)

Unsatisfactory (1)

Developing (2)

Target (3)

Exemplary (4)

Outstanding (5)

Ideas and indicators

Big idea, TEKS, learning objectives, language objectives, or align lesson with TEKS is missing

Missing three or more of the following components: “big idea” display of TEKS, learning objectives, language objectives, and alignment of lesson with TEKS.

Missing two of the following components: big idea” display of TEKS, learning objectives, language objectives, and alignment of lesson with TEKS.

Missing one of the following components: big idea” display of TEKS, learning objectives, language objectives, and alignment of lesson with TEKS.

Identifies big idea” display of TEKS, learning objectives, language objectives, and lesson is aligned with TEKS.

TEKS is aligned with instructional strategies and assessments (diagnostic, formative and summative).

Safety Rules and Regulations

Safety Rules and Regulations are missing.

Includes and lists Safety Rules and Regulations but are inappropriate.

Includes and lists Safety Rules and Regulations when and/or where appropriate within the 5 phases but does not describe and explain Safety Rules and Regulations.

Includes, lists and describes Safety Rules and Regulations when and/or where appropriate within the 5 phases but does not explain Safety Rules and Regulations.

Includes, lists, describes and explains Safety Rules and Regulations when and/or where appropriate within the 5 phases.

Safety Rules and Regulations are grade and content appropriate.

Engage

Engage is missing.

Missing three or more of the following components: captures students’ attention (e.g., discrepant events or questions); assesses prior knowledge and misconceptions; and connects to appropriate Explore student activities.

Missing two of the following components: captures students’ attention (e.g., discrepant events or questions); assesses prior knowledge and misconceptions; and connects to appropriate Explore student activities.

Missing two of the following components: captures students’ attention (e.g., discrepant events or questions); assesses prior knowledge and misconceptions; and connects to appropriate Explore student activities.

Addresses all components: captures students’ attention (e.g., discrepant events or questions); assesses prior knowledge and misconceptions; and connects to appropriate Explore student activities.

Addresses all components and displays differentiated strategies to appropriate Explore student activities.

Explore

Explore is missing.

Uses direct concrete experience with the concept Missing three or more of the following components: student centered, teacher acts as a guide, lesson involves a least 50% student interaction, Explore includes enough explanation (e.g., worksheet, lab) to enable students to navigate the Explore independently, lesson is inquiry based and includes pre-instructional and probing questions.

Uses direct concrete experience with the concept Missing two of the following components: student centered, teacher acts as a guide, lesson involves a least 50% student interaction, Explore includes enough explanation (eg., worksheet, lab) to enable students to navigate the Explore independently, lesson is inquiry based and includes pre-instructional and probing questions.

Uses direct concrete experience with the concept Missing two of the following components: student centered, teacher acts as a guide, lesson involves a least 50% student interaction, Explore includes enough explanation (e.g., worksheet, lab) to enable students to navigate the Explore independently, lesson is inquiry based and includes pre-instructional and probing questions.

Addresses all component: student centered, teacher as guide, interactive, Explore includes enough explanation (e.g., worksheet, lab) to enable students to navigate the Explore independently, inquiry based including probing questions, direct concrete experience with the concept.

Addresses all component and integrates STEM science practices.

Explain

Explain is missing.

Teacher clarifies information and shares scientific concept. Missing three or more of the following components: information from Explore is analyzed, concept map is appropriate, a list of essential questions with answer key, teacher clarifies information and shares scientific concept, teacher listens critically to explanation from students, and teacher uses recorded observations from students during explanation.

Teacher clarifies information and shares scientific concept. Missing two of the following components: information from Explore is analyzed, concept map is appropriate, a list of essential questions with answer key, teacher clarifies information and shares scientific concept, teacher listens critically to explanation from students, and teacher uses recorded observations from students during explanation.

Students explain concept using Explore and teacher and students interact during the Explain. Missing one of the following components: information from Explore is analyzed, concept map is appropriate, a list of essential questions with answer key, teacher clarifies information and shares scientific concept, teacher listens critically to explanation from students, and teacher uses recorded observations from students during explanation.

Addresses all components: students explain concept using Explore, teacher and students interact during Explain, information from Explore is analyzed, concept map is appropriate, a list of essential questions with answer key, teacher clarifies information and shares scientific concept, teacher listens critically to explanation from students, and teacher uses recorded observations from students during explanation.

Addresses all components and uses both Student Explain and Teacher Explain to enable students’ construction of science content.

Elaborate

Elaborate is missing.

Missing three or more of the following components: student centered, activities or deepen understanding OR apply concept to a real world situation.

Missing two of the following components: student centered, activities or deepen understanding OR apply concept to a real world situation.

Missing one of the following components: student centered, activities or deepen understanding OR apply concept to a real world situation.

Addresses all components: student centered, activities or deepen understanding OR apply concept to a real world situation.

Addresses all components and uses Elaborate strategies to enable students’ construction of science content.

Evaluate

Evaluate is missing.

Missing three or more of the following components: Appropriate preplanned assessment with answer key is used (i.e., diagnostic and formative assessment). Teacher adjusts instruction for student learning and concept development, students reflect on learning at least twice during the lesson.

Missing two of the following components: Appropriate preplanned assessment with answer key is used (ie., diagnostic and formative assessment). Teacher adjusts instruction for student learning and concept development, students reflect on learning at least twice during the lesson.

Missing one of the following components: Appropriate preplanned assessment with answer key is used (i.e., diagnostic and formative assessment). Teacher adjusts instruction for student learning and concept development, students reflect on learning at least twice during the lesson.

Appropriate preplanned assessment with answer key is used (i.e., diagnostic and formative assessment). Teacher adjusts instruction for student learning and concept development, students reflect on learning at least twice during the lesson.

Appropriate preplanned assessments are differentiated to enable students’ construction of science content.

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Long, C.S., Harrell, P., Subramaniam, K. et al. Strengthening Elementary Preservice Teachers’ Physical Science Content Knowledge: a 3-Year Study. Res Sci Educ 53, 613–632 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-022-10071-9

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