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Volume 21  Issue 3  

Lessons Learned from an Elementary School Citizen Science Project

by Janet Mannheimer Zydney, Lauren Angelone & Erin Rumpke
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This article describes a pilot study on the use of a computer supported collaborative citizen project with elementary school students. From public data available on the web, the researchers sought to understand how students engaged in science practices within a citizen science project. In addition, the researchers examined the different roles that emerged within the citizen science community. A social media feed, including posts and comments, was collected from one project within the citizen science site and analyzed qualitatively using a content analysis and role analysis. The results were contextualized to determine what guidance is needed to help teachers set up this type of project in their classrooms. The recommendations include scaffolding science practices, providing expectations for students on how to post on social media sites, and establishing productive partnerships with scientists in the community. Incorporating these guidelines within teacher education and professional development programs may help teachers provide their students with authentic research experiences through citizen science projects.

Volume 21  Issue 3  

Effects of an Asynchronous Online Science Methods Course on Elementary Preservice Teachers’ Science Self-Efficacy

by Daniel Bergman & Greg Novacek
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To address a statewide demand for elementary teachers, a midsized Midwestern (U.S.A.) university created an undergraduate licensure program for para-educators, nontraditional students who are already working full-time in schools. Although fieldwork experiences and mentoring occur in the schools where they work, the para-educator preservice teachers (PSTs) completed all college coursework via online classes with course readings, writings, videos, discussion board, home activities, and videoconference class sessions. Their coursework included an inquiry-based science methods course, taught asynchronously over 8 weeks in the summer, emphasizing the 5E Learning Cycle Model (Bybee, 2002; Bybee et al., 2006; Contant et al., 2018) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013). Pre- and posttest measures were collected from the participating PSTs (N = 57), including the STEBI-B (Enochs & Riggs, 1990) to analyze self-efficacy beliefs about teaching science. Findings between pre- and postassessments included statistically significant increases with large effect sizes in both STEBI-B subscales (Science Teaching Outcome Expectancy; Personal Science Teaching Efficacy Belief). Responding to open-ended follow-up questions, participants perceived writing lesson plans and doing at-home science activities as the most helpful course elements in their confidence about teaching science.

Volume 21  Issue 2  

Elementary Preservice Teacher Coursework Design for Developing Science and Mathematics Computational Thinking Practices

by Leslie Suters
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This paper describes disciplinary computational thinking (CT) interventions within mathematics and science methods courses, an instructional technology course, and a practicum placement for elementary preservice teachers (PSTs). The population included two cohorts of elementary PSTs from fall 2018 (n = 9) and fall 2019 (n = 12). Curricular interventions included opportunities for PSTs to practice using, teaching, and reflecting upon disciplinary CT activities with educational robotics, 3D printing, and maker-centered tasks. Results indicate statistically significant increases in self-perceptions of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK), Personal Science Teaching Efficacy as measured by the STEBI instrument, and CT-efficacy for teaching as a result of participation in coursework. The PSTs were also able to describe specific ways they could use CT tools and practices for teaching elementary content and logically apply aspects of TPACK, Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition, and the CT in Mathematics and Science Taxonomy practices to their instruction (Weintrop et al., 2016). Recommendations include a progression of activities within courses that can serve as a model for other teacher educators in preparing PSTs to use disciplinary CT.

Volume 21  Issue 2  

Coding Connections at the Interface of Algebra and Physical World Concepts

by Leslie Suters, Henry Suters & Adam Anderson
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This paper describes a 54-hour summer institute for grades 6-12 mathematics and science teachers (N = 19) with a comprehensive approach to preparing teachers to use computational thinking (CT) in their classrooms, including training in Python computer programming with Lego® Mindstorms® robotics, mathematics content sessions, and opportunities to solve real-world robotics challenges. Results of an assessment used to measure content knowledge and CT skills and the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge survey both yielded statistically significant increases. Participant reflections revealed they developed an enhanced understanding of programming and the ability to integrate programming into the curriculum. The authors propose an innovative approach to teaching disciplinary CT within the context of programming robots capable of interacting with the outside world to address real-world challenges.