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A Study of Science Teacher Preparation: Year 3 Science Teacher Candidates’ Teaching Practices and Professional Identities. Charles W. Anderson, Gail Richmond, In-Young Cho, Kelly Grindstaff, and Ajay Sharma, Michigan State University Angelo Collins, Discussant.

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A Study of Science Teacher Preparation: Year 3Science Teacher Candidates’ Teaching Practices and Professional Identities

Charles W. Anderson, Gail Richmond, In-Young Cho, Kelly Grindstaff, and Ajay Sharma, Michigan State UniversityAngelo Collins, Discussant


Paper set presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Dallas, April, 2005

This work was supported in part by grants from the Knowles foundation and the United States Department of Education PT3 Program (Grant Number P342A00193, Yong Zhao, Principal Investigator). The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position, policy, or endorsement of the supporting agencies.

  • 9 prospective secondary science teacher candidates
  • Life, earth, and physical sciences
  • Urban, suburban, rural schools
  • Middle school and high school
  • Senior and intern years: the fourth and fifth years of our teacher preparation program
research goals
Research Goals

1. Describing and comparing candidates’ patterns of practice: What were the teacher candidates really doing in their school placements

2. Interpreting patterns of practice and professional identities: How were their practices, aspirations, and learning affected by a variety of factors? How do candidates try to shape the disparate elements of their practice into coherent professional identities?

3. Describing and interpreting learning: What changed and what did not change about the candidates’ practices as they went through the program?

4. Improving science teacher education: How can we use what we have learned to improve our program and science teacher education generally?

data sources
Data Sources
  • Lesson and Unit Plans and Reports
  • Teaching Investigations, Inquiry Cycle, and Learning Cycle assignments
  • Videotapes of two lessons taught during the internship year (Fall, Spring)
  • Intern Journals
  • Candidate Interviews: Five with each candidate across senior and intern years
  • Mentor Teacher Interview
  • Field Instructor Interview
patterns of practice a hierarchy of teaching practices
Patterns of Practice: A Hierarchy of Teaching Practices
  • Individual practices (e.g., grading, managing class discussions, teaching problem solving)
  • Problems of practice
    • Science content and learning goals
    • Students and assessment
    • Classroom environment and teaching strategies
    • Professional resources and relationships
  • Patterns of practice: Each candidate developed his or her own pattern of practice
communities of practice and their expectations
Communities of Practice and Their Expectations
  • Students: Teachers should be interesting, humorous, well organized, capable of maintaining order; some students are alienated.
  • Mentors and other science teachers: Teachers should be good colleagues, explain science clearly, act as responsible professionals.
  • MSU instructors (us): Teachers should help students to master scientific practices, learn with understanding.
the intern year multiple expectations limited resources
The Intern Year: Multiple Expectations, Limited Resources
  • Demands of teaching every day: Intern year is like both student teaching and induction year.
  • Public scrutiny of teaching: Professional identities are built by people with first-hand knowledge of interns’ teaching: students, mentors, MSU instructors
  • Shaping a pattern of practice with limited resources.
  • Demands on interns’ personal resources: knowledge of science, strategies for working with people, personal convictions.
  • Choosing a definition of success: a professional identity that preserves personal efficacy.
candidates patterns of practice
Candidates’ Patterns of Practice
  • Influenced by aspirations of candidates themselves (their designated professional identities).(Paper 1)
  • Product of situated decisions about practice (planning, teaching, assessment, reflection in response to problems of practice). (Papers 2-4)
  • Influenced by expectations of students, teachers, instructors. (Papers 2-4)
  • Influenced by resources and constraints: human, social, and material, including personal resources of candidates and resources from others. (Papers 2-4)
candidates affiliations with communities of practice
Candidates’ Affiliations with Communities of Practice
  • Reformers: Affiliated with MSU instructors and reform agenda (with support from mentors): Lisa Barab, Kendra Wallace, Angie Harris
  • Skeptics: Affiliated with more traditional school science community: Mike Barker, Jared Alford, Kathy Miller
  • Mixed practice: Inclinations toward reform teaching constrained by personal resources and circumstances: John Duncan, Lynn Aster, Sheila Walters
overview of papers
Overview of Papers
  • Professional Identity and Teacher Candidates’ Instructional Decisions & Aspirations, presented by Gail Richmond
  • Patterns of Teaching Practice with Respect to Science Content, presented by In-Young Cho
  • Situated Choices of Teacher Candidates: Roles and Relationships with Students, presented by Kelly Grindstaff
  • Developing classroom learning environments and teaching strategies: The Student Agency Perspective, presented by Ajay Sharma
professional identity and teacher candidates instructional decisions aspirations

Professional Identity and Teacher Candidates’ Instructional Decisions & Aspirations

Gail Richmond & Andy Anderson

Michigan State University

research question
Research Question

How can we describe the aspirations that teacher candidates have for particular patterns of practice?

actual and designated professional identities
Actual and Designated Professional Identities
  • Identity = ensemble of stories told about a person (including stories told by the person). Identities include roles in social orders.
  • Professional identities = ensemble of stories about professional practice, told by candidates, students, mentors, instructors.
  • Actual professional identities = stories about current practice (including current classroom communities).
  • Designated professional identities = stories about envisioned future practice (including future classroom communities).
  • Jared
    • Earth science major, history minor
    • Senior-year fieldwork in an urban HS earth science classroom
    • Internship year work in a general science MS in a rural/suburban district
  • Kendra
    • Earth science major, theater minor
    • Senior-year fieldwork in a suburban HS
    • Internship in a HS in a different suburban district
  • Sheila
    • Chemistry major, earth science minor
    • Senior year in a suburban JHS physical science classroom
    • Internship in a MS general science classroom in the same district.
data sources16
Data Sources
  • Teaching Philosophies
  • Teaching Investigations
  • Reflection/Revision sections of Unit Papers
  • Journals
teaching philosophies
Teaching Philosophies
  • Jared
    • Overcoming dislike (fear) of science
    • Orchestrate events in classroom from beginning for failure-free learning
    • Strategies/activities include
      • Discussion
      • Peer teaching
      • Group projects
teaching philosophies cont d
Teaching Philosophies (cont’d.)
  • Kendra
    • Every student has ability to understand scientific concepts
    • Priority is on reasoning (critical thinking) & experience rather than precision through:
      • Relevance through analogy and real-world application
      • laboratory inquiry to help students build own framework to view scientific process
      • Analysis of data to infer reasonable conclusions, creating foundation of scientific principles
    • Creating a safe classroom community so all students can flourish
jared s journals
Jared’s Journals
  • Complaints about program-based expectations
  • Chronological accounting of activities
      • Descriptions not revealing of specific content
      • No mention of student ideas or misconceptions guiding rationale
  • Focus on student response to instruction
      • Response to authority
      • Success equated with paying attention, completing work
      • Use of “learning aids” (e.g., worksheets, review tests, text)
kendra s journals
Kendra’s Journals
  • Worries about effectiveness as teacher
  • Focus on helping students experience, become skilled at inquiry
  • Focus on finding real-world problems
  • Emphasis on understanding students in order to facilitate their learning
sheila s journals
Sheila’s Journals
  • Quantitative view of student understanding
  • Concern about learning about students to reinforce views of students
  • Focus on activities to maximize engagement rather than extent to which they address central ideas
teaching investigations
Teaching Investigations
  • Jared: Investigation of students’ misconceptions about gravity
    • No reporting of student ideas
    • Focus on completeness, precision of their work
    • Need for students to experience multiple, identical experiences to reproduce factual knowledge
teaching investigations cont d
Teaching Investigations (cont’d)
  • Kendra: Investigation of embedded assessments on students understanding of concept & learning objectives
    • Made learning objective explicit
    • Design provided opportunity for students to share what they learned and still had questions about
    • Used feedback to address ideas in future lessons
teaching investigations cont d24
Teaching Investigations (cont’d.)
  • Sheila: Investigation of whether inclusion of opening question or problem settles students down and gets them into “scientist mode”
    • Hard to see effect on behavior because it takes time to get accustomed to new expectations
    • Some evidence that students began asking better questions (“better” not defined)
    • Need to have question related to prior lesson
  • Designated identity = Anticipated Patterns of Practice

Jared values a practice that permits his students to reproduce fact-based science and respond to his authority

Kendra values a pattern of practice that supports students in developing deep understanding of science

Sheila values a pattern of practice that facilitate student engagement

conclusions cont d
Conclusions (cont’d)
  • Resolution of gaps between Actual and Designated Identity: All interns seek out resources that narrow the gap between these two
  • Jared
    • A/D gap is small
    • Casts net for resources narrowly
    • Priority on relationship with mentor, whose actual identity is aligned with Jared’s designated one
  • Kendra
    • A/D gap is moderate
    • Casts net for resources widely
    • Priority on any individual/resource that support reform-based science teaching (mentor has traditional teaching approach)
  • Sheila
    • A/D gap is large in senior year, grows smaller in internship year
    • Casts net for resources broadly
    • Priority on resources that support student engagement (mentor has traditional approach)
paper 2 patterns of teaching practice with respect to science content

Paper 2: Patterns of Teaching Practice with Respect to Science Content

By In-Young Cho and Charles W. Anderson

Michigan State University


Problem of Practice: Relearning Science Content and Developing Goals for Students’ Content LearningCommon Practices: Inquiry: Learning from DataApplication: Problem solving

research questions
Research Questions
  • What are patterns of practice in teaching for scientific inquiry and problem solving?
  • What are candidates’ actual professional identities and how are they developed?
scientific knowledge and practice

Reasoning from evidence (Inquiry): Finding patterns in observations and constructing explanations for those patterns

Observations (experiences, data, phenomena, systems and events in the world)

Patterns in observations (generalizations, laws, graphs, tables, formulas)

Models (hypotheses, models, theories)

Reasoning from models and patterns (Application): Using scientific patterns and models to describe, explain, predict and design

Scientific knowledge and practice
problem solving model



Data Analysis





Represented by

Reform science teaching: Data analysis and problem solving are seen as part of larger processes of inquiry and application

School science: Data analysis and problem solving are isolated procedures



Problem Solving

Problem solving model
lisa barab
Lisa Barab
  • Background

- chemistry major and mathematics minor

- taught chemistry and mathematics in a suburban high school

- entered the program as an honors student with a near-4.0 grade point average in chemistry

- an intense, lively student who had a close relationship with her father, a chemist.

  • Developing teaching materials

- utilizing real world experiences to class activities

- open-ended discussion with divergent questioning

- cooperative small group work station

- teacher as a co-enquirer and students’ active exploration of scientific ideas

  • Goals for students’ learning

- inquiry learning and application with model-based reasoning

- conceptual understanding

- connecting experiences to theories and appreciation of science in everyday life

lisa inquiry teaching

Observations (experiences, data, phenomena, systems and events in the world)

Patterns in observations (generalizations, laws, graphs, tables, formulas)

Models (hypotheses, models, theories)

Lisa: Inquiry teaching
  • - Inductive approach
  • - Connecting experientially real observations to model-based reasoning process
  • - Active negotiation of the meanings of scientific idea
lisa problem solving

Lisa: Problem solving





Represented by



qualitative and quantitative approach

use Explanations and Patterns in Experiences to find relationships between variables in chemical equations

understanding chemical principles represented by chemical equations

john duncan
John Duncan
  • Background

- physical science major and mathematics minor

- taught a combined earth and physical science course in a suburban high school

- had spent six years as a civil and environmental engineer before entering the program

  • Developing and using teaching materials

- data to be analyzed and find patterns but having difficulties in making them experientially real

- utilizing visual and informational technology for students’ motivation

- convergent questioning and limited discussions

- mixture of group work and individual sitting

- teacher’s presentation of authoritative scientific knowledge as a well organized conceptual network

  • Goals for students’ learning

- developing critical thinking skills but limited to finding patterns in data sets

- understanding of scientific models by knowing the relations of key concepts

john inquiry teaching

Observations (experiences, data, phenomena, systems and events in the world)

Patterns in observations (generalizations, laws, graphs, tables, formulas)

Models (hypotheses, models, theories)

John: Inquiry teaching

Inductive approach

Displaying patterns in data and finding well-organized data sets

john problem solving

John: Problem solving








Qualitative approach by organizing Explanations of causal relations among key concepts

Scientific Models and theories as authoritative knowledge

mike barker
Mike Barker
  • Background

chemistry major and mathematics minor.

- taught urban high school chemistry and mathematics

- had been manager of R& D Technology for over 15 years in chemical engineering company

- received presidential award from the company for the development of a new material.

  • Developing and using teaching materials

- step-by-step analytic approach to Data to be understood in Patterns which reflects scientific Models/theories

- mastery of mathematical skills for manipulating data in finding patterns but not necessary to be experientially real

- convergent questioning and limited discussions

- individual sitting

- teacher’s demonstrative procedural display of inquiry and problem solving processes

  • Goals for students’ learning

- mastery of algorithmic process skills taught in problem solving and inquiry process

- finding correct answers to test questions and be successful in the future

mike inquiry teaching

Observations (experiences, data, phenomena, systems and events in the world)

Patterns in observations (generalizations, laws, graphs, tables, formulas)

Models (hypotheses, models, theories)

Mike: inquiry teaching

Deductive approach

Mastery and application of definitions of terminologies and algorithmic functions of chemical principles

Accepting scientific Models and Theories as a truth

mike problem solving








Mike: Problem solving

Quantitative approach

Sequential application of algorithmic procedural display

Variables as symbols to be manipulated correctly

Math skills and correct use of chemical equations

  • Actual professional identity

- School placement influence

- Knowledge of science content

- Beliefs about school science and science teaching

- Teaching priorities and student learning goals

implications for te
Implications for TE
  • Understanding complex interactions of learning communities
  • Support for developing feasible reform based teaching practices
  • Practicing Model-based reasoning skills with sound content knowledge
paper 3 situated choices of teacher candidates roles and relationships with students

Paper 3: Situated Choices of Teacher Candidates: Roles and Relationships with Students

By Kelly Grindstaff, Gail Richmond, and Charles W. Anderson

research questions44
Research Questions
  • What roles did teacher candidates desire and enact with respect to the student-teacher relationship, for the purposes of understanding and assessing students?
  • Why? What expectations, obligations, and needs did they see these roles fulfilling in their contexts? And did those contexts enable and constrain such roles?
  • How did the roles they enacted and sought for themselves and their students affect their practice and their learning?
data analysis
Data Analysis

Role: behaviors in context


affected by expectations (and associated needs and obligations) of different communities contributing to one’s identity

revealed in:

  • Student-teacher relationship they seek & form and for what purposes that relationship primarily serves


  • What they can expect to succeed in, feel efficacious doing and learn
participants contexts
Participants & Contexts

• Angie Harris completed a biology major and a chemistry minor. She spent her intern year at the same suburban high school where she had been placed as a senior the year before, teaching biology. Her mentor was very committed to her learning, was very supportive and also demanding. Both saw their match-up as a good one.

  • Lynn Aster completed a biology major with a minor in mathematics. She had returned to school to pursue a teaching degree after four years working as a technician in a cytogenetics lab. For her internship she taught a lower-track biology class in a large urban school. Her mentor was not a good match for her, and thus was not an influential resource for her learning.
  • Kathy Miller completed a biology major and a chemistry minor. Her internship was with two mentors, one in biology and the other in chemistry. She was placed in a very affluent suburban district in her home town, where she hoped to secure a job. She perceived her primary mentor, in biology, as a support and as a pressure.
angie student teacher relationship
Angie: student-teacher relationship
  • built through efforts to understand how students make sense of the content and use that knowledge to provide guidance and feedback, demonstrating care and concern)
  • serves to encourage students to take advantage of feedback and guidance provided

She really believed that if she could just come up with a match to how the student learned that she could help them, if they were 50% willing to work with her. She proved that to be true. (interview with mentor, spring semester, 2003)

[Once] the student feels as though the teacher really cares, then the student will want to put in the extra work to complete and make up work. (unit plan and report in the fall semester 2002)

angie role in context
Angie: Role in context
  • Putting in a lot of effort to understand student thinking and provide opportunities
  • Met her own expectations as well those of most students, mentor, and MSU
  • Fulfills obligation to students to design responsive instructional opportunities
  • Addressed students’ needs to understand the content (and succeed in school)
angie curiosity
Angie: Curiosity
  • Angie’s approach toward teaching was one marked by curiosity of how students thought and how she could improve her practice.
  • She didn’t care for deadlines or procedures
  • She wanted to encourage curiosity in students

I enjoy assessing the student thinking. I dislike evaluation or grading student work (journal response, spring semester, 2003)

Is it stuff that they are really questioning? Have you captured their curiosity? (interview with Angie, fall semester, 2002)

I enjoy figuring out what went wrong through the unit and how to re-teach concepts.(Journal Response, spring semester, 2003)

lynn student teacher relationship
Lynn: student-teacher relationship
  • Built through demonstrating belief in students and getting to know them
  • Serves to engage students so that they can learn the content and succeed in school

So to motivate them, I’m trying to form personal relationships with them and trying to capture their interest, personally. …. And maybe they just haven’t heard it. I tell them all the time. I know you can do this. I know you can. (interview with Lynn, fall semester, 2002)

lynn role in context
Lynn: Role in context
  • Demonstrating belief in and care about students and connecting content to them to engage them in learning (and success in school)
  • Not helped by expectations of mentor or students as she works to disprove assumptions of students and disrupt school culture; Her expectations are aligned with MSU but constraints are significant
  • Tries to fulfill obligation to students to provide the high quality education to which they are entitled (teaching philosophy)
  • Tries to Address students’ needs to believe in themselves and engage in the content in order to understand the content and succeed in school

[My field instructor] will say “you are doing a great job, Lynn.” And [my mentor] will say this is the best you can expect out of these kids, but I feel like there is more. (interview, fall semester, 2002)

I am dying to be that teacher that is so positive and so excited about science that you don’t need to scream at your students, they are just going to naturally hop on that train. (interview, spring semester, 2003)

lynn engagement
Lynn: Engagement
  • Lynn’s approach toward teaching was one marked by questioning her practice, especially with regard to her greatest challenge: motivating the students to engage in the content so they could learn.
  • She was very enthusiastic, hoping her students would become more so
  • She wanted to encourage self-esteem, interest in biology and understanding of the content, though she questioned what that content should be given limited interest, effort and success of her students
kathy student teacher relationship
Kathy: student-teacher relationship
  • Built through fair and transparent grading practices
  • Serves to demonstrate and foster respect

I try to be real clear with them on what my criteria are…I tell them exactly what I am going to expect [on an assessment]. …So when I grade it, I am grading it on what I told them. …If you respect them, they will respect you. …I tell them what I expect; that is what I grade them on; that is what I evaluate them on. They know what is coming from me. …It is important to me that my students respect me … I need them to respect me. (interview, fall semester, 2002)

kathy role in context
Kathy: role in context
  • Putting in a lot of effort to grade fairly on what students expect
  • Met her own expectations as well those of most students and mentor, but saw the expectations of MSU(assignments) as not always pertinent
  • Fulfills obligation to students to grade fairly
  • Addressed students’ needs to have opportunities to do well in school.

[Kathy was] very efficient at correcting the tests and getting them back, and they [the students] really appreciate that (interviewwith mentor, spring semester, 2003)

kathy respect
Kathy: Respect
  • Kathy’s approach toward teaching was one marked by concern for earning respect from students, primarily through fair “performance for grade exchange”.
  • She was most concerned with on her own performance in the internship, like she was about the performance of her students, moreso than learning

pleasing everybody because you need a job (interview, spring semester, 2003)

situated choices roles
Situated Choices: Roles


  • role to question how students made sense of the content to provide best learning opportunities
  • supported by expectations of students, mentor and MSU program
  • learning for herself and her students central


  • role became to question how to motivate student and what content students needed, to engage them in learning
  • expectations of mentor and students were often constraints
  • learning for herself to meet content challenges central


  • role to grade students fairly to gain respect
  • supported by expectations of students and mentor but she did not see the value in some of the MSU program’s expectation
  • performance for grade exchange for herself and students central
situated choices learning
Situated Choices: Learning


• learning from the program was her priority

• felt efficacious in learning from mistakes (working toward intentions)

• questioned how students made sense of the content

• MSU program, her mentor and her students and their thinking were major resources


• learning from the program was her priority

• felt efficacious in learning from mistakes (working toward intentions)

• questioned the content students needed & how to engage them in it

• MSU program and her students and how they engage in and make sense of the content were major resources for her learning


• performance in the program was her priority

• felt most efficacious in performing well for mentor (execution)

• less questioning how her students made sense of the content or why they responded in ways that they did

• perceived MSU program and her mentors as much as constraints as resources


Paper 4: Developing classroom learning environments and teaching strategies: The Student Agency Perspective

Ajay Sharma and Charles W. Anderson,

Michigan State University

research question59
Research Question

This paper aims to describe and compare the different patterns of practice as regards constructing classroom learning environment and developing teaching strategies, of three teacher candidates. It specifically probes how these three teacher candidates responded to expressions of student agency in order to construct classroom learning environments in accordance with knowledge, values, and teaching circumstances.

conceptual framework
Conceptual Framework
  • A sociocultural perspective on how humans interact with their immediate environment. Thus, people are seen as actively engaged with the environment - an engagement that is mediated by cultural means (tools and signs).
  • Human agency seen in terms of capacity for engagement in a socioculturally mediated dialogue with both the natural and the social world. This agency finds expression in dialogic events that are nested in situated practices and mediated by a multiplicity of discourses.
  • The conceptual framework rejects the dualism of agency and culture/structure in its account of agency in favor of viewing both agency and culture as contingently emergent features of situated action.
  • The analysis focuses on the second year of the study during which time our candidates were interns for the entire academic year.
  • In order to give a thick description of the different patterns of practice teacher candidates developed, the paper presents detailed stories of three of our teacher candidates (one from each group of teacher candidates) that are fairly representative of the types of patterns of practice our focus group of teacher candidates have tended to exhibit.
  • Focus on one typical class for each teacher.
  • Unit of analysis: dialogic event where participants can be seen as engaged in dialogic and socioculturally mediated action.
methods contd
Methods (contd.)

Indicators of expression or exercising of agency:

  • Student(s) initiations, requests for a classroom discussion, and actions that appear unanticipated by the teacher, and/or take classroom discussions or activities in a relatively unscripted directions;
  • Students’ responses to teacher instructions, comments and actions that have an identifiable element of improvisation, creativity and expression of their wishes, and agenda (i.e. dialogic overtones in response are clearly identifiable);
  • Students’ dialogic engagement with other participants on matters of science and science learning.
  • Jared is an Earth Science major with a minor in History. Jared aspired to teach in a suburban school, and as so happened he got to intern in just such a school with a not particularly diverse student population.
  • Lynn didn’t join the teaching profession straight out of college. She had worked in a cytogenetics lab as a technician for four years before she decided to return to school to pursue a teaching degree. Being a biology major with a minor in mathematics, she is confident about her content knowledge in Biology. Lynn interned in a large urban school with a diverse student population where she taught a lower-track biology class.
  • Kendra majored in General Science and had a minor in Theatre. She carried out her senior-year work in a suburban high school earth science classroom. Under the guidance of the same mentor teacher, but divided between earth science and chemistry, Kendra did her internship in another suburban district.
results jared
Results: Jared

An episode from his class:

Jared (J): All right! Who wants to read the first paragraph.

Couple of hands go up.

J: Mr. G you had the hand first, then it will be Ila, and then Dustin. Do go ahead Mr. G. (sitting on his chair)

G (reading from the text): Lasers have uses in medicine, manufacturing, communications, ( ), entertainment, and even measuring distance to the moon. Lasers are used in audio and video discs, computers and printers. In the future, lasers may be used to produce almost limitless supply of energy from nuclear ( ).

J: Perfect. Thank you.

results jared contd
Results: Jared (contd.)
  • Students’ agency as learners of science contained and diverted away from the official space of the classroom.
  • Student agency, thwarted in the official space then could only find expression in unofficial, non-science related directions where it reflected students’ attempts to influence and regain at least some measure of control over events in the social world (of the classroom).
  • Jared was on its way to developing a primarily School Science patterns of practice in constructing classroom learning environments wherein students were expected to respect the teacher’s social and expert authority, accept the official school science version of nature, participate in class activities as ordained by the teacher, complete work assigned to them, and restrict their human agency to unofficial spaces.
results lynn
Results: Lynn

An episode from her class:

Lynn (L): (taking cognizance of one student who had been raising his hands) What’s that?

The student: The natural selection, is it like it just randomly chooses each of each scenario or is it separately for each scenario?

L: That is a good question. Cleveland is asking if natural selection is always the same. Let me rephrase your question to see if I have got it right, are you saying that it is always good to be a tall giraffe?

The student: I am saying that in a case of a tall giraffe, is it always going to be specific type of natural selection?

Another student: No, it is not always going to be a tall giraffe.

L: Ok, I still do not … I am still trying to understand Cleveland’s question.

The first student: Ok, spiders. What kind of selection was there?

L: (repeats the question) What kind of selection was the spider’s? That was called ‘stabilizing’.

The student: Will it ever be the same type of situation or a different kind of natural selection?

results lynn contd
Results: Lynn (contd.)
  • While school science discourse tended to hegemonise official social space in Lynn’s classroom, whenever students made an attempt to exercise their agency as science learners, Lynn did encourage them to dialogically engage with the scientific discourse and take the classroom dialogue in unscripted albeit productive directions.
  • At other times, however, students’ agency could find expression only in the unofficial space, and often in form of resistance to or subversion of the official agenda of the classroom.
  • Lynn clearly aspired to have a classroom where she could practice a cognitive apprenticeship approach to teaching. However, both her circumstances and her limited skills and knowledge often militated against her success.
results kendra
Results: Kendra

In the activity titled “What the heck? II”, Kendra made a powerpoint presentation with photographs of her driveway, and asked students to explore on their own and find out the reasons, backed by scientific evidence, for sinking and cracking of the driveway of her home, and also for the presence of sediments on one end of the driveway. Students were asked to do independent research before presenting their findings before the entire class the next day.

results kendra contd
Results: Kendra (contd.)
  • Kendra’s lesson plan, teaching strategies and classroom learning environment enthusiastically invited students to exercise their agency as explorers of the natural world, in the official space in the classroom.
  • Plenty of informal exchange with students during the class period.
  • Kendra had made substantial progress towards developing a cognitive apprenticeship approach to teaching and building classroom learning environment.
  • All teacher candidates that we studied strove to go beyond the minimal expectations of managing professional roles and obligations while constructing classroom learning environments. However, these teacher candidates differed in ways they sought to deal with student agency as they went around constructing their own situated solutions for the problem of developing classroom learning environments and evolving corresponding teaching strategies. These differences reflected the situated decisions candidates had made towards developing a pattern of science teaching practice for themselves.
  • How the teacher candidates dealt with student agency in their classrooms had a crucial bearing upon the nature of classroom learning environments constructed by them and teaching strategies adopted by them.
  • Cases like the ones discussed in this paper help us appreciate the role students as active agents play in co-constructing their own learning experiences and classroom learning environments.
  • Need for greater appreciation by the teacher education programs of the enormous challenges novice teachers face in creating classroom learning environments conducive to teaching science for understanding.


What Have We Developed?

Implications for Teacher Education

An Approach to Describing Science Teaching Practices that Connects a General Framework with Specific Details
  • Individual practices (e.g., grading, managing class discussions, teaching problem solving)
  • Problems of practice
    • Science content and learning goals
    • Students and assessment
    • Classroom environment and teaching strategies
    • Professional resources and relationships
  • Patterns of practice: Each candidate developed his or her own pattern of practice
a causal model for predicting interns patterns of practice
A Causal Model for Predicting Interns’ Patterns of Practice
  • Expectations of others (students, mentors and other teachers, teacher educators) +
  • Designated professional identities (interns’ aspirations for themselves) +
  • Affordances and constraints of situation +
  • Personal resources
    • Ways of relating to people
    • Ways of understanding science +
  • Resources and constraints of teacher preparation program?? 
  • Situated decisions about teaching practices
Why is School Science So Attractive? Dilemmas Candidates Face in Making Situated Decisions about Practice:
  • Demands of teaching
    • Reconciling multiple expectations
    • Teaching every day
  • Reconciling aspirations and expectations with limited resources
  • Situated decisions that preserve personal efficacy (choosing a definition of success)
    • School science as a way to feel successful and efficacious in teaching
    • Tradeoffs between reform science intentions and successful execution
    • Tradeoffs between near-term success and learning for the long term
roles of teacher educators
Roles of Teacher Educators

 Midwives: We were watching over a socialization process that would take place with or without us, providing emotional support, and intervening in moments of crisis.

 Helpers: We were providing resources, scaffolding, and personal mentoring in support of candidates’ developing practices.

 Advocates: We were encouraging candidates to work on the practices that we thought were most effective and appropriate for them.

changes in our practice
Changes in Our Practice
  • Developing a practice-based curriculum: Organizing discussion and activities around repeated engagement with key problems of practice (using or analytical framework)
  • Developing topic-specific resources and support systems (being more effective in helper role)
  • Recognizing legitimacy of expectations of all communities (being respectful advocates)
  • Engaging mentors (harmonizing expectations)
  • Finding transitional assignments and expectations that are possible for candidates with limited resources and responsive to multiple expectations (recognizing constraints)
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