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Volume 23  Issue 3  

Teaching Science via Computational Thinking? Enabling Future Science Teachers’ Access to Computational Thinking

by Ugur Kale, Ashley Kooken, Jiangmei Yuan & Abhik Roy
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Despite the increasing number of coding initiatives to promote computational thinking (CT), their main focus on in-service teachers in large school districts of the big cities far from exemplifies opportunities for preservice teachers (PSTs) to learn how to promote it in rural elementary school settings. As a preliminary step, this research examined how a specific workshop, designed to infuse CT in a science methods course, influenced PSTs’ motivation, skill, and usage access to CT. A pre- and post-test quasi-experimental design guided the research. The two intact classroom sections of an elementary education science method course (N=43) were randomly assigned to either a control group or an experimental group. After the covariates were controlled for, attending the workshop increased PSTs skill and usage access as well as their likelihood to incorporate CT in their lesson modifications. PSTs’ deeper discussion of CT processes and affordances of CT in relation to the phases of 5E Model is essential to helping them connect CT to the science pedagogy.

Volume 23  Issue 3  

Open and Useful? Exploring the Science Education Resources on OER Commons

by Joshua M. Rosenberg
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Though science teachers use curricular materials from a range of sources, the nature of the science education materials that exist in the public domain or that are licensed for free use has not been the focus of much prior research. In this study, Open Educational Resources (OER) that can be accessed through the OER Commons platform were examined in terms of their characteristics and use using public Internet data mining methods. The author evaluated 8,937 life science, physical science, and applied science resources in terms of their material type, grade level, license type, number of endorsements by approved organizations (e.g., a state department of education), alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and number of views. Many resources were readings and laboratory investigations, and most were for postsecondary science classes, though many were intended for high school, middle school, and elementary classrooms. Relatively few resources were endorsed, and fewer still were explicitly aligned with the NGSS, suggesting the need for greater alignment of standards across states. To provide a richer set of accessible curricular resources for educators, several implications for practice and policy are considered.

Volume 23  Issue 2  

Examining Spaces for Integrating Physics and Computing Through Classroom Inquiry

by Colby Tofel-Grehl, Kristin Searle, Douglas Ball & Soojeong Jeong
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As computing becomes an essential component of professional practice across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, integration of computing across content areas in K-12 classrooms is also becoming important. Particularly within science classrooms, computer science and computational thinking (CS/CT) are novel and necessary skills for modeling, working with data, and other foundational science skills. Finding ways to engage students in practicing and learning CT within authentic science learning is challenging for most teachers. In this article, the authors report on one teacher’s efforts to engage high school students in maker-based physics education, integrating computational thinking by designing and building escape rooms. Escape rooms are puzzle rooms,  wherein participants solve a series of linked puzzles to “escape” a locked room. The puzzles were a year-end activity and utilized the physics content students learned throughout the school year. The authors conducted a text analysis of student reflective journals and teacher reflections to understand the affordances and challenges for students with engaging CS/CT in their science class. Findings indicated high levels of student satisfaction with their puzzles and varying degrees of challenge when coding the microprocessors. Students believed that being able to code responses to physics phenomena enriched their peers’ experiences of learning physics.

Volume 23  Issue 1  

Using Simulated Classrooms to Examine Elementary Teachers’ Perceptions About, Attention to, and Use of Formative Feedback to Improve Their Ability to Facilitate Science Discussions

by Jamie N. Mikeska, Jonathan Steinberg, Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue, Dante Cisterna, Devon Kinsey & Heather Howell
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The purpose of this research study was to examine in-service teachers’ perceptions about, attention to, and use of two different types of written formative feedback designed to support them in developing their ability to engage in one core teaching practice: facilitating discussions that engage students in scientific argumentation. This core teaching practice has been nominated as important for building students’ scientific literacy and has been perennially difficult for teachers to learn how to engage in successfully. This study used an online, simulated classroom made up of five upper elementary student avatars as the practice-based space where the participating in-service teachers facilitated two science discussions. Following the first discussion, each teacher received one of two types of written formative feedback (namely, specific feedback or scoring level feedback) based on their discussion. Findings indicated that the teachers perceived both types of feedback as useful and strongly attended to areas of improvement suggested in the written feedback, regardless of feedback condition. Study results suggest that the use of specific or scoring level feedback can serve as one valuable mechanism to support improvement when using online simulations with elementary science teachers.