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What Kind of Teacher Will I Be? Science Teacher Candidates’ Teaching Practices and Learning

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  1. What Kind of Teacher Will I Be?Science Teacher Candidates’ Teaching Practices and Learning Charles W. Anderson, Gail Richmond, Kelly Grindstaff, Ajay Sharma, In-Young Cho, and Shinho Jang, Michigan State UniversityAngelo Collins, Discussant

  2. Paper set presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Vancouver, BC, April, 2004 This work was supported in part by grants from the Knowles foundation and the United States Department 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.

  3. Informants • 10 prospective secondary science teacher candidates • Life, earth, and physical sciences • Urban, suburban, rural schools • Middle school and high school • Intern years: the fifth year of our teacher preparation program

  4. Research Questions • Patterns of practice: What were the teacher candidates really doing in their school placements? How can we compare, contrast, and analyze the practices of different teachers? • Learning from experience: What were their aspirations? What kinds of teachers did they hope to be? What were they learning about science teaching, and how were they learning it? • Influences on practice and learning: How were their practices, aspirations, and learning affected by a variety of factors, including their own experience, knowledge and values, the teacher preparation program, and their mentors and school placements?

  5. Data Sources • Lesson and Unit Plans and Reports • Teaching Investigation (Inquiry Cycle) assignment • Videotapes of two lessons taught during the internship year (Fall, Spring) • Intern Journals • Intern Interview • Mentor Teacher Interview • Field Instructor Interview

  6. Research Question 1: Describing and Comparing Patterns of Practice • Teaching practice as unit of analysis • Practices located in teaching cycles: planning, teaching, assessment, reflection • Hierarchy of teaching practices: individual practices, problems of practice, patterns of practice • Practices differ with respect to intentions and execution

  7. 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

  8. Comparing Candidates’ Intentions

  9. Candidates’ Intentions: School Science and Reform Science Teaching • These are alternate visions of GOOD science teaching (no one intends to teach poorly) • The relationship is additive (school science forms the basis for reform science teaching) more than differing philosophies • In our program, we did not focus on the transitional “middle column”

  10. Candidates’ Intentions School Science Transitional Science Teaching Reform Science Teaching End of Program Learning Trajectories of Individual Candidates Candidates’ Execution Novice Expert Beginning of Program Figure 1: Teacher Candidates’ Learning Trajectories

  11. RQ 2: Learning from ExperiencePrinciples of Learning • WYDIWYL: What you do is what you learn. • Motivational Zones of Proximal Development: Learning is affected by our choices of mentors and practices that we work to improve. • Designated identities: Learning is affected by our aspirations for the future.

  12. Candidates’ Intentions School Science Transitional Science Teaching Reform Science Teaching ZPD Candidates’ Execution Current practice Novice Expert Figure 2: Influences on Candidates’ Current Practices and Motivational ZPD’s School and mentor Program

  13. Research Question 3: Influences on Practice and Learning • Factors influencing practice and learning • The candidates’ own experience, knowledge and values; • The teacher preparation program; and • The candidates’ mentors and school placements • Situated decisions link factors to practices and learning

  14. Candidates’ Intentions School Science Effective Science Teaching Excellent Science Teaching Candidates’ Execution Novice Expert Figure 3: Intentions and Execution of Different Interns Jim Minstrell Mark Lisa Kendra Jared Kathy Sheila John Angie Lynn

  15. Paper 1: Prospective Teachers’ Understanding of Science Content for Teaching By In-Young Cho, Charles W. Anderson Michigan State University

  16. Research Questions • How did each candidate approach the content and learning goals problem of practice? • What factors influenced their situated choices?

  17. Informants Mike Barker: - 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. Lisa Barab: - 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, also a chemist.

  18. Informants(continued) John Duncan: - 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

  19. Problem of Practice: Relearning Science Content and Developing Goals for Students’ Content LearningCommon Practice: Teaching Problem-solving and Engaging Students in Data Analysis

  20. Mike Barker: • Teaching Hess’s Law, Mike showed mathematical method of calculating ∆H for a number of different reactions. • never mentioned during the whole lesson about the conservation of energy in that we can never expect to obtain more or less energy from a chemical reaction by changing the method of carrying the reaction. • did not use or explain the meanings of enthalpy diagram that each line represent balanced chemical reaction and relative distance of each line must reflect the enthalpy difference between reactants and products and is relatively proportional. • did not give explanations of physical changes of matter between the lines.

  21. Lisa Barab: • When a student, showing the result of a gas law problem on her worksheet, asked why the pressure goes so big when the volume changed in a constant temperature, Lisa gave an example that if we put a crushed ball on top of the warm torch, the ball gradually returns to its original shape with increased volume because of the gaseous pressure increase inside the ball and explained collision theory. • Lisa also coached students to use dimensional analysis and algebraic skill to manipulate the key variables: temperature, pressure, volume, and number of moles of gases. When a student asked if her answer was correct, Lisa treated problem solving procedure as how we represented chemical ideas with numbers and units and how the relationship of the parameters is denoted in equations.

  22. John Duncan: • when he taught “prevailing wind” by creating “wind rose diagram”, he spend most of the time to give every detailed directions of drawing the diagram with whole class demonstrative lecture rather than discussion about the phenomena and interpretation of the diagram.

  23. Patterns of Practice: Teaching Problem-solving and Engaging Students in Data Analysis

  24. Patterns of Practice: What kinds of resources did they look for?

  25. Situated decisions: epistemological and pedagogical perspectives and goals for science content teaching

  26. Discussion • Prior science learning experience matters • Content knowledge background • Importance of mentoring • School placement effect • Teacher education program need to be more responsive to candidate’s actual needs -professional development of in-service teachers (mentors)

  27. Paper 2: Understanding Students and Learning to Teach Science By Kelly Grindstaff, Gail Richmond, and Charles W. Anderson

  28. Problem of practice: Students and Assessment Research Questions  What did candidates feel they needed to understand about students? Why? (What were their intentions for their practice with regards to understanding students?) How did they try to find this out?  What student activities and attitudes did the candidates value? Why? (How do their intentions, and the context, which affects its execution, shape what they want students to do and care about?) How did they attempt to shape these?

  29. Problem of practice: Students and Assessment Each candidates’ choices about what they sought to understand about their students, how, and what they wanted their students to do was revealed in these common practices: • how they tried to motivate or engage students in classroom work, • the approaches they took to helping students learn, and • how they assessed and graded students.

  30. 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.

  31. Angie: Situated Choices about Practices • Motivating and engaging students • Challenging, authentic & relevant content • Student-centred & active lessons • Encouraged student curiosity • Helping students learn • Science teaching as helping students in “inquiry & application” • Needed to understand how they are making sense of the content, how they learn • Provided lots of feedback and individual attention • Developed relationships with students • Grading and assessing students • Enjoys assessing student thinking • Students learn from assessment tasks • Used information about student learning to inform teaching • Focused on big ideas, inquiry & application • Liked mentor’s low-stakes “mastery learning” approach

  32. Angie: Understanding Student Thinking I enjoy assessing the student thinking. I dislike evaluating or grading student work. I enjoy figuring out what went wrong through the unit and how to re-teach concepts. I struggle with motivating students who performed poorly to come in for extra help or make-ups. I struggle writing assessments that appropriately challenge all students. I struggle with writing good, clear questions that allow me to really understand what the students are thinking. (Journal Response, spring semester, 2003)

  33. Lynn: Situated Choices - Practices • Motivating and engaging students • Communicated high expectations • Demonstrated care for and developed relationships with students • Consistent enforcement of clear rules • Tapped into student interest, questions, & prior knowledge • Infectious teacher enthusiasm • Helping students learn • Used lots of activities & attempts at inquiry & application • Used information about student learning to inform teaching • Grading and assessing students • Confident in analyzing student understanding • Wanted students to learn from mistakes • Rewards effort and understanding

  34. Lynn: Engaging Students in Learning We’ve all walked into a class and thought I cannot stand this teacher, but they were just so darn nice and so positive and just kept going every day that you ended up looking forward to that class and learning so much. …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. But I’m finding that just wanting to be that teacher doesn’t get me there. (interview with Lynn, spring semester, 2003)

  35. Kathy: Situated Choices about Practices • Motivating and engaging students • Used relevant, real-world content • Employed elements of student choice • Friendly surveillance • Developed rapport with students • Helping students learn • Lessons planned around textbook • Clear & explicit expectations • Assisted students in completing work • Grading and assessing students • Explicit criteria for grading very important • Rewards effort and understanding

  36. Kathy: Assessing & Grading Fairly 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 with Kathy, fall semester, 2002)

  37. Situated Choices - Learning Angie • 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 Lynn • 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 Kathy • 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

  38. Paper 3: Science Teacher Candidates’ Classrooms: Psychological Safety, Participation, and Communication about Science By Ajay Sharma and Charles W. Anderson

  39. This paper focuses on the problem of practice of developing classroom learning environments and teaching strategies.

  40. Research Questions • Describe and compare the different patterns of practice of an experienced teacher and two teacher candidates in terms of the different ways they chose to manage the tensions between teacher script and school science on one hand and students’ counterscripts and their own discourses on the other. • We also consider how those patterns of practice were affected by the teachers’ knowledge, values, and teaching circumstances, and how their practices and priorities were likely to affect their learning to teach.

  41. Conceptual Framework • Social Spaces: (a) Official social space: Teacher script; School science discourse. (b) Unofficial social space: Students’ counterscripts; Students’ everyday discourses. (c) “Third Space”: Dialogic interaction of the official with the unofficial. • Scripts: • Teacher script. • Students’ counterscripts. • Discourse: (a) School science discourse. (b) Students’ everyday discourses. (Gutierrez et al, 1995; Moje, 2001)

  42. Methods • In order to give a thick description of the different patterns of practice teacher candidates developed, the paper presents detailed stories of two of our teacher candidates that are fairly representative of the types of patterns of practice our focus group of teacher candidates have tended to exhibit. • As an analytic counterpoint, video recordings of classroom teaching of Jim Minstrell, a renowned and expert science teacher, were also analyzed, and his patterns of practice was compared with those of the two chosen teacher candidates. • Discourse analysis was used to analyze and interpret classroom teaching data. • Focus on one typical class for each teacher.

  43. Participants • Jared is an Earth Science major with a minor in History. Teaching was his first career. 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 is a biology major with a minor in mathematics. 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. Lynn interned in a large urban school with a diverse student population where she taught a lower-track biology class. • Jim Minstrell was a high school teacher from Mercer Island, Washington. Holds a Ph.D. in science education and is a winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Education (1985).

  44. Results: Jared An Episode From the Class: • 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 Lisa, and then Dave. 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. • G: There is ‘printer’ down there. • J: Yup! You are right. There is printer down there. • J: (pointing to another student) There. You go.

  45. Results: Jared (contd.) • Set up learning environments that were very much dominated by school science and the teacher’s script. • The tension between teacher’s script and underlife was managed by letting the school science discourse hegemonise the official space, and ensuring that students’ counter-scripts, voices and everyday discourses remained in the unofficial space.

  46. Results: Lynn An Episode from her Class: • 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? • L: Yes. There could be another type of selection on the spider. Say … This is an excellent question. Let’s say there are birds eating me and I am a spider. So, there is a stabilizing selection going on because it is not good to be big and it is not good to be small. So I am at an advantage if I am in the middle. But, say, to attract a mate, and have babies, that is survival. It is good, only if you are big. The big spiders – only they are the ones that get to have girlfriends and have babies. So there can be different kinds of selection. If you a big spider in that kind of situation, you have advantage for mate selection, but you are at a disadvantage for predator selection. Right!

  47. Results: Lynn (contd.) • While the teacher script tended to hegemonise official social space in Lynn’s classroom, Lynn did encourage her students to dialogically engage with the scientific discourse and take the classroom dialogue in unscripted albeit productive directions whenever she felt safe or confident enough to do so. • The nature of the classroom discourse in her class fluctuated rather capriciously between the extremities of traditional school science and reform science. • Lynn clearly aspired for a reform science oriented classroom learning environments but both her circumstances and limited skills and knowledge often militated against her success.

  48. Results: Minstrell • An Episode from his Class: • ( Jim points everybody’s attention to a diagram on the white board depicting a book kept on a table.) • JM: Does it make sense to everybody that the table is exerting an upward force on the book? (Pauses a bit). No? (No response from the students) OK, you wanna argue against it? • Student 1: What is it? I don’t understand why that would be a force? • JM: Why that would be a force? • Student 1: A force is when you are pushing something. But the book is just there. The table is only keeping it from falling down. The table is not doing anything. • JM: All right! So the table is not doing something. It is just … there. • Student 1: It is not pushing it up; it is just holding it up. It is just there. So it is not applying any force. • JM: OK. • Student 2: My conception of force is too that it is something active, like pushing or pulling, or something that is equivalent of like gravity. It is hard to conceive something that is just being there as exerting a force. Because people think of force is like (makes a upward moving gesture with hands) lifting something. And the table is not lifting anything. You know there has to be something there that is preventing it from falling down. • JM: OK. So how many of you at this point are really struggling with, questioning the idea of whether we want to think of something like table as exerting an upward force? (Some hands go up.) OK. So several of you are still wrestling with that. Mike could you hold your hand like that please? (asks Mike to hold his hand up with palms outstretched, and puts a book on Mike’s palm) How about that situation? (Then JM brings a big bundle of books to keep it on Mike’s palm. Laughs.) So, Is Mike exerting a force? • Everybody laughs.

  49. Results: Minstrell (contd.) • Managed the tension between different discourses animating the classroom, and harnessed it productively to build classroom learning communities where students learned science with understanding. • Enacted a teacher’s script that actively invited, included and re-voiced students’ counter-scripts. • The official social space was large and inclusive enough to encompass third space within itself.

  50. Discussion • Teacher candidates responded to the difficult challenge of managing the tensions between different scripts and discourses in different ways. • The patterns of practice they evolved reflect their best efforts to manage the tension between the teacher’s script and the underlifeof the classroom, given the socio-cultural context they found themselves in while learning how to teach, and the resources, attitudes and perspectives they had at their disposal. • Both the school science and the reform science approaches to managing classroom discourse and activity are difficult and challenging, but the reform science approach is more so. • The situated choices teacher candidates make in response to the problem of practice of developing classroom learning environments have obvious consequences for the learning of students in their classrooms. • Developing reform science oriented classroom learning environments is a challenge most novice teachers are ill prepared to meet. • Need for a better appreciation of this challenge in the way teacher education programs prepare teacher candidates for their vocation.