The authors describe their study of a curricular module on computational thinking (CT) implemented within an elementary science methods course and reported insights on preservice science teachers’ (PSTs’) beliefs about CT integration. The research question was, “Following participation in a curricular module on CT, what is the nature of PSTs’ beliefs about CT integration in their elementary science classrooms?” The authors designed and implemented a three-class-session CT module within an undergraduate elementary science methods course. They observed and collected field notes on PSTs’ (N = 39) participation in the module, along with class artifacts. They examined the data to gain insight into PSTs’ perceptions of CT integration in elementary science education, its feasibility, and its value for their own teaching practice. They found that PSTs overwhelmingly supported the pedagogical innovation of integrating CT in their science teaching; they appreciated that CT modernized and made science education engaging for young learners; and, they generally believed that CT integration supported the implementation of what they understood as good science teaching practice. However, the PSTs believed they would face a variety of challenges in their efforts to integrate CT into their science teaching. Implications for CT teacher education are discussed.
Positioned in the context of experiential learning, this paper reports findings of a virtual reality field trip (VRFT) in conjunction with an in-person field trip involving preservice teachers in an elementary science methods course to a local natural history museum. Findings included that virtual reality (VR) is best used after a field trip to encourage student recall of the experience, but only when done for a limited time to avoid VR fatigue. The types of experiences that preservice teachers thought VR would be good for in their science classrooms included the ability to visit either inaccessible or unsafe locations, to explore scales of size that are either too big or too small, and to witness different eras or events at varying temporal scales. Furthermore, this study uncovered potential equity issues related to VRFTs being seen as a viable alternative if students could not afford to go on field trips. Further research needs to be conducted to better understand the impact of VRFTs on student learning outcomes and take advantage of recent improvements in VR technology.
This qualitative study examined how preservice elementary teachers integrated robotics into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) lesson designs and why they designed their lessons in a particular way. Participants’ lesson designs were collected, and semistructured interviews were conducted. The authors analyzed lesson designs to examine how participants integrated robotics into their lesson designs and interviews to explore why they designed their lessons in a particular way. Our findings suggest that, in general, preservice elementary teachers designed lessons for student learning with technology. Only one lesson was for student learning from technology. The rest were for student learning with technology or applied a mixed approach that supported both student learning with and from technology. Preservice teachers’ lesson designs seemed to have been influenced by their pleasant struggles during robot design, collaboration experience, robotics integration knowledge, STEM content knowledge, and conception of STEM integration. Implications for teacher education are presented.
The exploratory case study described in this paper examined the experiences of an elementary science teacher as he integrated iPads into his teaching. With the intent of finding a purposeful use for the district’s 1:1 iPad initiative in his science classroom, he adopted digital science notebooks for the first time. During planning sessions alongside an instructional coach, this teacher worked to harness the maximum potential of the digital notebooks’ capabilities to support his students’ science learning. Data collected from coaching conversations, observations, student notebooks, and a stimulated recall interview uncovered the ways the teacher planned for digital science notebooks and how he could use them to support student science learning. Findings show that structured page templates for students’ notebooks modified from previous work helped this teacher successfully incorporate the digital notebooks to enhance his students’ learning beyond what a traditional composition notebook can provide. Furthermore, the teacher’s perceptions of his experience with digital notebooks was overwhelmingly positive. He considered the value of digital notebooks to be superior to traditional notebooks and shared recommendations for other teachers who may also be considering using digital science notebooks for the first time.