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Edited by Phyllis Katz and Lucy Avraamidou

Teacher Preparation Embraces Homeostasis and Novelty

Expanding Teacher Candidates’ Learning Ecologies through a Short-Term Study Abroad

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Lara Smetana

Abstract

Introducing an ecological approach to how teachers are prepared with a new vision of science education unconfined to classrooms, this descriptive chapter introduces a university science teacher education program which recognizes that coherent, complex and meaningful science learning is not confined to classrooms – be they university or K-12 classrooms. There is increasing interest within the science research community in ecological and systems perspectives on science teaching and learning (Center for the Advancement of Informal Science [CAISE], 2010, NRC, 2009, 2015). In our program, candidates’ preparation involves specific, purposefully coordinated, engaged-learning experiences that take place across, linked to, and drawn from varied science learning contexts, or what we refer to as a Science Teacher Learning Ecosystem (Smetana, Birmingham, Rouleau, Carlson, & Phillips, 2017). We have been intentional about the ways in which varied contexts matter, not only for youth but also for the teacher candidates who are preparing to work with them. The contexts each bring a different homeostatic identity. The intent is that candidates will be better able to facilitate these sorts of connected learning experiences (Bevan, 2016) for their students if they have had similar sorts of opportunities as well as the space to reflect upon them. This chapter reports on a study abroad experience in Panamá City, Panamá that, as part of an elementary science methods course, is designed to develop elementary teacher candidates’ interest and foster enthusiasm for not only science but for the kind of connected science teaching and learning that develops and deepens across time and spaces. The chapter begins with an overview of the conceptual framework for the program and this specific methods course. Then, this framework is used to describe the specific experiences of the study abroad trip, which include time in K-5 classrooms and afterschool activities, a visit to the Panamá Canal locks, an urban rainforest and the colonial city center. Data are derived from course assignments and discussions to provide insight into the ways in which candidates conceptualized learning and doing science across the various times, contexts and experiences. Finally, implications are drawn for other science educators and science education researchers.

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Patricia Patrick

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The participatory process of photovoice asks participants to take photographs, which they use to describe a topic related to their life. I employed photovoice as a novel approach to teaching and considered the psychological effects of novelty and homeostasis as catalysts for learning. Novelty was the uniqueness and innovation of an original classroom assignment. Homeostasis was the comfort zone of personal concepts about the environment. For educators, focusing on human impact and its role in environmental change is paramount in conservation and environmental education. For students, a well-developed understanding of human impact is of utmost importance as they learn about their role in the environment. I identify the factors within an overlapping system that inform students’ ideas of human impact. In order to identify these factors, I used illustrations and writings from a photovoice project completed by middle level students (ages 10–14) to outline the genotypes and phenotypes of their ideas about human impact. The genotypes are represented by the students’ writings about human impact. The phenotypes of their thoughts about human impact are presented in their photographs. The photographs and writings reflect the students’ knowledge of human impact – what and who they recognize in their local community in relation to human impact. The data were employed to design the Anthropogenic Impact Homeostasis Model.

‘What Do I Like about Science-Related Activities?’

Participatory Indicators Addressing Students’ Motivations and Needs When Learning Science

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María Heras and Isabel Ruiz-Mallén

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While emerging approaches, like the RRI paradigm, put students’ participation and appropriation of the learning process at the center of science education, attempts at open assessment and evaluation have been more slowly applied in practice – a homeostatic tendency to continue these practices in the older, continual methods. Assessment, however, is a fundamental topic in science education and pedagogy, permeating science education curriculum, teaching and learning practices and research. This chapter explores the novel role of participatory approaches in science education assessment to support learning and inform and adapt teaching practices that fulfill learners’ basic needs, while approaching global challenges in novel and engaging ways. This is done through the analysis of an empirical experience of participatory indicators development in Spain, France and United Kingdom, as part of the H2020 EU perform research project. The perform project aims to engage secondary school students in science learning by using performing arts. Eight exploratory workshops were implemented in four selected secondary schools in each country to explore students’ motivations to participate in science education activities and identify participatory assessment indicators. A total of 122 secondary-school students participated in the process. Workshop results provided not only specific contextual insights from each country, key to understand students’ motivations, but also fresh and culturally relevant assessment indicators.

When Stability Isn’t the Baseline

Traumatized Children and Science Education

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Marilynne Eichinger

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There are two ways in which homeostasis is encountered in this chapter on teaching and learning traumatized children. Such children may prefer the safety of whatever familiarity they have in their lives (their homeostatic “normal”) because fear may have led them to become less curious –less willing to explore. Teachers may not understand their unexpected reactions. Some children retreat. Others respond impulsively with seemingly irrational behavior. If novel learning experiences have a history of being detrimental to their safety, they will choose otherwise, limiting their ability to grow healthfully. There is also the assumption on the part of teachers that their students, in general, are entering the classroom from homes, from places of nurturing where they are sent to school ready to learn. This is the default homeostatic view of students’ basic backgrounds. This chapter discusses some of the common causes that lead to child trauma and learning difficulties in terms of the novelties these children face above and beyond mastering new content material. Utilizing brain and learning research and the experience of directing a science center, I suggest ways in which science educators (and others) can introduce teaching situations which can assist this group of learners to set and reach new goals.

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Tricia McLaughlin and Belinda Kennedy

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Whilst much of the emphasis upon stem in Australia has focussed upon the need for greater learning opportunities for students and emerging skill gaps, little attention has been directed towards the academic workforce and their capacity to deliver stem education in tertiary contexts. This chapter reports on a nationally funded Australian Government project in building capacity for academics from stem and other disciplines to engage in cross-disciplinary activities. Two of the national case studies are selected for discussion in this chapter. In these case studies, staff awareness and confidence in stem cross-disciplinary work increased, and their understanding of the value of such cross-disciplinary work for students also increased. These case studies provide one model of ensuring that academic leadership is at the forefront of stem learning in the future.

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Amanda Berry, Tricia McLaughlin and Grant Cooper

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This chapter reports a research project aimed to develop pre-service science teachers’ knowledge and understanding of contemporary stem contexts and pedagogies through participation in a stem mentoring initiative for schoolgirls. In this project, primary and secondary pre-service teachers (PSTs) volunteered to work as mentors, collaborating in the design of learning experiences suitable for school-aged girls, together with teacher educators and researchers in stem at an Australian University. Outcomes of the study focus on main themes of: PSTs’ self-perceptions as emerging stem educators, their understandings of stem and developing a pedagogy around stem, their understandings of school girls’ interest, engagement and learning in stem, and the value of the project for teachers in preparation.

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Jan H. van Driel, Tessa E. Vossen, Ineke Henze and Marc J. de Vries

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This chapter describes an approach to stem education that focuses on connecting research and design as core practices across the stem disciplines. In this approach, school-industry partnerships provide students with opportunities to acquire real world stem experiences. Collaboration between teachers, within and across schools, and with stem professionals working in local industries are an essential element in the implementation of this innovation. Consequently, schools and teachers are empowered to develop and implement a version of stem education that fits their local context, student population and resources. Research is needed to investigate the impact of this approach on the attitudes and behaviours of students, teachers and stem professionals.