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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.
Participants • 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 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 Gail Richmond & Andy Anderson Michigan State University
Research Question How can we describe the aspirations that teacher candidates have for particular patterns of practice?
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).
Participants • 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 Sources • Teaching Philosophies • Teaching Investigations • Reflection/Revision sections of Unit Papers • Journals
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.) • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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) • 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’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
Conclusions • 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) • 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 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 • What are patterns of practice in teaching for scientific inquiry and problem solving? • What are candidates’ actual professional identities and how are they developed?
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
Inquiry Application Data Analysis Explanations Data Patterns Experience 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 Variables Equations Problem Solving Problem solving model
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
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 Explanations Experience Data Patterns Represented by Equations Variables 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 • 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
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 Explanations Experiences Data Patterns Representedby Equations Variables Qualitative approach by organizing Explanations of causal relations among key concepts Scientific Models and theories as authoritative knowledge
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
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
Explanations Experience Data Patterns Representedby Equations Variables 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
Discussion • 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 • 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 By Kelly Grindstaff, Gail Richmond, and Charles W. Anderson
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 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 affecting: • What they can expect to succeed in, feel efficacious doing and learn
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 • 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 • 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’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 • 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)