Asking the Real Experts in Science Education
Posted: Saturday, January 1st, 2011
by Donna Ross
As a faculty member in the College of Education, I often find myself in a position to make teaching suggestions to preservice and inservice teachers. Whenever possible, I try to get my ideas from the real experts. I frequently ask K-12 students for their suggestions. Recently, I had the opportunity to invite eight urban high school students to participate in a workshop for teachers. I asked the students to answer two questions for the group:
- What is one teaching strategy or style that does NOT help you learn science?
- What is one teaching strategy or style that DOES help you learn science?
The only guideline I gave them was to try to avoid repeating answers. They gave me permission to share their responses here.
NS: It doesn’t work for me when the teacher puts us in groups and each group presents one part of the chapter, but we are all supposed to learn all the parts. I feel I only learn the part I present because not every group includes enough detail for the test. It would be better if we were only tested on the part we present. A style that does work for me is when we do a lab and come together to share our questions and ideas. Then there is a lecture that clarifies our ideas and what the results mean and how to apply it.
SD: It doesn’t help me when teachers make me write down a long list of vocabulary terms and definitions and never revisit the material, so it feels like a waste of time. Just because I wrote it down doesn’t mean I automatically learned it. What does help is when there is repetition to help me remember the concept. For example, we use the idea in the lab and the lecture and a game and the bellwork. Also, if we get to figure out our own conclusions, we remember better.
NA: Reading out loud and expecting us to learn the material doesn’t work for me, especially if the teacher has different students doing the reading. Most of the time we can’t even hear. Even if the teacher is reading, it is hard to understand the textbook. It feels like a waste of time. A style that does work for me is to do the lab and then look at really short parts of the book that explain what we did in the lab. Then the book makes more sense.
FK: It doesn’t work for me if I know more about the subject than my teacher. I lose respect for the teacher if he or she hasn’t learned the material first. Something that does work for me is when the teacher calls on us randomly because it keeps me focused and thinking.
SJ: Teaching the same way all the time doesn’t work for me; teachers should mix it up so we stay busy. Not everyone learns the same way, so using lots of different styles is best. It also helps to have a good study guide so tests are not surprises.
MF: It is hard for me to remember all the instructions when a teacher just says them once, so having them written clearly really helps. During lectures, note-taking guides and foldables are also helpful for me.
TH: PowerPoints are not effective for me because they are usually too boring and have too much information. Hands-on activities are better for me and anything that allows students to think and figure things out for ourselves.
NH: It is frustrating for me when we do labs where the results are obvious even without doing the lab. It actually works for me if the teacher does a really good lecture with questions or we do a good lab where we have to figure out the results.
The eight students who participated come from four distinct ethnic and linguistic backgrounds and range in academic achievement, but all share a desire to be successful. All eight of the students have slightly different preferences, but there is a consistent theme of engagement throughout all of their responses. The more engaged the students are, the more they perceive the teaching as effective. This personal wisdom echoes many of the findings from the research literature in science education. Student engagement, hands-on activities, inquiry approaches, literacy supports, and well-prepared teachers all increase opportunities for meaningful learning in science classrooms. Just ask the experts!
Donna Ross is associate professor of science education at San Diego State University and is CSTA’s 4-year college director.
Posted: Monday, March 27th, 2017
The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) stands with our science and science education colleagues in endorsing the March For Science and its associated activities.
The decision by the CSTA Board of Directors to support the March for Science was based on the understanding that this is an opportunity to advocate for our mission of high quality science education for all and to advance the idea that science has application to everyday life, is a vehicle for lifelong learning, and the scientific enterprise expands our knowledge of the world around us. The principles and goals of the March for Science parallel those of CSTA to assume a leadership role in solidarity with our colleagues in science and science education and create an understanding of the value of science in the greater community. CSTA believes that the integrity of the nature of science and that the work of scientists and science educators should be valued and supported. We encourage your participation to stand with us.
There are over 30 satellite marches planned for the April 22, 2017 March for Science in California (to find a march near you, click on “marches” in the upper right of the main page, select “satellite marches” and use the search feature). We encourage members who participate in the March for Science to share their involvement and promotion of science and science education. Feel free to promote CSTA on your signs and banners. For those on social media, you may share your involvement via Twitter, @cascience and our Facebook groups.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…