March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

How Will the Next Generation Science Standards Impact Higher Education in California?

Posted: Friday, March 1st, 2013

by Carolyn Holcroft and Gregory Potter

In recent months we’ve had many occasions to talk about the NGSS with our college faculty colleagues and without exception, reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. The vision set forth in the “Framework for K-12 Science Education” for integrating scientific practices, crosscutting concepts and disciplinary core ideas makes good sense. The “Conceptual Shifts” and the draft “Definition of College and Career Readiness in Science” seem promising and ambitious, and once the NGSS are successfully implemented we can expect to see a drastically different level of preparedness in the students arriving at our colleges.

The emphasis on deeper understanding and application and somewhat less content will certainly necessitate significant changes both in our curriculum and in the ways many higher ed faculty teach. A recurring theme I hear in NGSS and pedagogy discussions is that, “teachers usually teach students the way they themselves were taught”. Consequently, many higher ed faculty have a strong central focus on content and much less attention to application and integration with other disciplines. As we educate future California science teachers, though, we cannot expect them to embrace and engage in the paradigm shift if we’re not modeling it. However, even those faculty who don’t teach the teacher preparation courses will have to reevaluate their pedagogy. When students who have successfully met the NGSS begin to graduate and enroll in our college courses, they’ll surely vote with their feet if we offer them no more than the traditional delivery of content with little else.  Although this prospect is perhaps daunting, in the long run this is a tremendous chance to strengthen the K-16 pedagogy and curriculum and most importantly, graduate students who are better prepared to think critically and innovatively

So what is higher education doing to prepare for the impending paradigm shift? Faculty leaders are spreading the word and increasing faculty awareness of the NGSS. There is also a great opportunity for higher ed faculty to collaborate to design (and in some cases, redesign) the common course descriptors used for articulation to have a greater focus on practice and application rather than predominantly on content mastery. We can continue to work towards integrating higher expectations for writing and critical thinking ability in our assignments. We can also take a new look at the degrees we offer, to ensure that they reflect the NGSS emphasis on building coherently over the course of a student’s education.  That is, rather than building our science degrees as selections of courses in distinct silos, we can strive to make more obvious connections across our curriculum and offer ongoing opportunities for students to deepen their scientific understanding as they progress through their coursework. In doing so, we reinforce the overriding outcomes and meaning that serve as the foundation for our degrees. The NGSS is a promising impetus for change and it is our job as faculty of higher education to take this opportunity and run with it; to facilitate truly really meaningful change in education.

Carolyn Holcroft is CSTA’s two-year college director and teaches biology at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. 

Gregory Potter is CSTA’s four-year college director and is an assistant professor at the Bernerd School of Education at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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California Science Curriculum Framework Now Available

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.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Call for CSTA Awards Nominations

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…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Call for Volunteers – CSTA Committees

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

Volunteer

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…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

A Friend in CA Science Education Now at CSTA Region 1 Science Center

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

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Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.

Learning to Teach in 3D

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Joseph Calmer

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I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.