Michigan State University scholar David Stroupe is co-editor of a new book aiming to better prepare educators for ambitious and equitable science teaching.
“Preparing Science Teachers Through Practice-Based Teacher Education” (Harvard Education Press) is the result of years of work surrounding and including teaching the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and ambitious science teaching.
“Some people think that teachers can memorize all they needed to know, and that we can measure that knowledge on tests and confirm they are re a good teacher,” said Stroupe, associate professor of teacher education at MSU. “We know that doesn’t work.”
Instead, this book highlights a shift in teacher education: “We want teachers to know what important teaching practices and knowledge are, why they are important, how they fit into a bigger picture of teaching and learning and how to see the practices through a lens of equity and justice work. Equally as important, future teachers need opportunities to rehearse those practices in preparation programs.”
The book is one of the first published works with the goal of having science education researchers across institutions work more collaboratively on building a shared language, tools and practices to improve teacher preparation.
“There are people who are thinking about how we could change and improve the field on their own,” said Stroupe, also the associate director of STEM teacher education in the CREATE for STEM Institute. “But the field and impact won’t shift unless we start working together.”
That is why, in 2018, Stroupe and Associate Professor Amelia Gotwals co-hosted the National Science Education-funded Ambitious Science Teacher Preparation Conference* at MSU, bringing together science education researchers.
Participants discussed what was being done in their institutions and found themes of what was working and what wasn’t. “Preparing Science Teachers” was developed, in part, based on what was discussed during the conference.
The book examines how science teaching and learning could be reimagined, and how to expand on it.
For example, when scientists are trying to explain scientific phenomena, they don’t just open and read textbooks. Teachers should take the same model and apply it to the classroom: Students could create and use models to understand phenomena, like flight patterns on moths.
The problem is this type of learning isn’t necessarily innate to teachers—which is the issue the book addresses: Finding and providing opportunities for teachers to try these methods to expand learning and student curiosity and involvement.
Shifts needed in teacher preparation programs are also addressed, such as showing pre-service teachers how to move learning outside the classroom and into the real world.
At MSU, in the last year, future Spartan educators were encouraged to bring science learning to places like the MSU Planetarium. The pre-service teachers interacted with students as they developed astronomy projects. They also got to understand their students more as human beings, and not just another person in class.
The book is co-edited by Karen Hammerness, director of educational research and evaluation at the American Museum of Natural History, and Scott McDonald, an associate professor and director of the Krause Innovation Studio in the Pennsylvania State University College of Education.
Together, the editors hope the book is a step toward changing classrooms by giving students keys to their learning.
“We want to move beyond reading and talking about teaching, move beyond giving tests, and think instead about how teachers can and should build a community with their students,” Stroupe said. “It will hopefully help students see they can participate in their learning, and will help teachers better promote equity and justice in their classrooms.”
“Preparing Science Teachers” is scheduled for publication in November 2020, and can be preordered here.
More from Stroupe
*Ambitious Science Teaching is a framework in which teachers are challenged to truly let their students drive their own learning and develop scientific answers to puzzling questions. Stroupe is a recognized leader in the practice.
JTE Insider, the companion blog to the Journal of Teacher Education, interviewed Stroupe and Gotwals about Ambitious Science Teaching in 2018.
Stroupe is the author of “Reframing Science Teaching and Learning: Students and Educators Co-developing Science Practices In and Out of School” (Routledge, 2017). Also, he is part of a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to explore what makes successful potatoes, and science teachers, tick.