They particularly emphasize that prospective teachers should develop the tools to continue their own learning in the discipline they will teach and that they should be prepared to learn from experience as they progress in their careers. The authors argue that a foundational understanding of the ways student learn the subject matter is a key tool for doing both.
The research on learning provides not only support for the basic proposition that teachers benefit from substantial study in their fields, but also a sophisticated model for thinking about what it takes to teach subject matter. This research, coupled with the more limited findings from research on the effects of particular types of coursework, however, provides only broad guidance to those who plan or oversee the curricula of teacher preparation programs.
It is likely to be difficult to translate what is known into indicators that could readily be used in evaluating teacher preparation programs or in a large-scale effort to collect data about how well such programs are putting research findings into practice. One challenge for those responsible for teacher preparation curricula is that reasonable people may disagree about what it means to be proficient in a subject. Scholars in each discipline make this sort of decision when they design courses of study, but the variation across institutions regarding requirements for majoring in a particular subject, for example, demonstrate wide diversity of opinion.
Establishing research-based recommendations for the quantity of coursework would pose a challenge as well. The number of courses a prospective teacher has taken in, say, mathematics is a very crude proxy for the amount of mathematical knowledge he or she has; moreover, as noted above, it has no clear relationship to the development of pedagogical content knowledge. In addition, teachers often have multiple areas of teaching responsibility and may not know what assignments they will have in the future.
Science teachers, in particular, may be expected to teach biology, physics, earth science, or general science—and many aspiring teachers may consider it prudent to try to become qualified in a range of fields. Grossman, Schoenfeld, and Lee discuss the complications of determining what sorts of content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge elementary teachers need.
They argue that prospective elementary teachers have just as great a need for both strong liberal arts preparation and the opportunity to develop expertise and pedagogical content knowledge in a particular subject matter, as do teachers of older students. Acknowledging that prescriptions in this area are based on logical inference and experience rather than empirical research, the authors assert that although all prospective elementary teachers should be well prepared for both mathematics and reading instruction, if they also have the option of specializing in other areas, such as science, social studies, or art, there would be benefits for teachers, students, and schools.
Another challenge for anyone wishing to make firm recommendations about teacher preparation is that, as we discuss in Chapter 3 , the people who enter teacher preparation programs are highly varied in terms of their academic skills and preparation, as well as their goals. They include very bright and highly motivated students with strong academic preparation,. Students with interest and capacity in some subject areas, particularly mathematics and science, are in relatively short supply.
Because the demand for new teachers is so great, it is difficult for teacher preparation programs to exclude candidates whom they recognize have weaknesses in their academic preparation. The presence of these students, however, creates an extra burden for programs because the programs must address whatever deficiencies these students have while also preparing them to succeed as teachers. The necessary remediation is also costly in terms of both time and financial resources.
As detailed above, the empirical support for the proposition that strong subject-matter preparation is crucial for teachers is limited and inconsistent. Two factors account for this limitation: We discuss the need for more large-scale research in Chapter 9. Numerous intervening influences may affect a teacher as he or she progresses through a program and into a classroom, which makes it exceedingly difficult to identify the effect of a single influence, such as subject-matter coursework.
Considering these difficulties, the positive links that. This work is discussed in Chapter 6. These and other studies may help the field develop more explicit ideas of what it means to acquire strong subject-matter knowledge, how to measure that knowledge, and how to design teacher preparation experiences to promote acquisition of that knowledge.
On the basis of the limited available research related to content preparation, there are the beginnings of answers to our four questions regarding what students and teachers need to know and what learning opportunities they need. The research on thinking and learning has identified two elements as key to the capacity to teach in a way that fosters the kind of learning described above:.
The specific type and degree of knowledge and skills will likely vary both by subject and by the age group a teacher is preparing to teach, as we discuss in Chapters 5 - 7. For example, elementary school teachers would likely focus less on developing expertise and pedagogical content knowledge in a single field than would teachers who will specialize in a one field.
Nevertheless, these three types of knowledge are important for all teachers. These ideas have important implications for the way states certify teachers. Certification requirements often focus on counts of course credits in particular subject areas, without regard for the actual content of the courses. Most states have abandoned a generic science certification, for example, recognizing that certification by field e.
Some states such as Pennsylvania have also begun to rethink elementary certification to allow more specialization. Teachers make a difference. The success of any plan for improving educational outcomes depends on the teachers who carry it out and thus on the abilities of those attracted to the field and their preparation.
Yet there are many questions about how teachers are being prepared and how they ought to be prepared. Yet, teacher preparation is often treated as an afterthought in discussions of improving the public education system. Preparing Teachers addresses the issue of teacher preparation with specific attention to reading, mathematics, and science.
The book evaluates the characteristics of the candidates who enter teacher preparation programs, the sorts of instruction and experiences teacher candidates receive in preparation programs, and the extent that the required instruction and experiences are consistent with converging scientific evidence. Preparing Teachers also identifies a need for a data collection model to provide valid and reliable information about the content knowledge, pedagogical competence, and effectiveness of graduates from the various kinds of teacher preparation programs.
Federal and state policy makers need reliable, outcomes-based information to make sound decisions, and teacher educators need to know how best to contribute to the development of effective teachers. Clearer understanding of the content and character of effective teacher preparation is critical to improving it and to ensuring that the same critiques and questions are not being repeated 10 years from now.
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Preparing to teach | Center for Teaching and Learning
Page 70 Share Cite. Page 71 Share Cite. Page 72 Share Cite. Page 73 Share Cite. While a sound undergraduate science education is essential for producing the next generation of scientists, it is equally critical for future teachers of science. It is important to examine the veracity of the conclusion that well-prepared teachers and high-quality teaching matter. It also is important to document and understand what specific characteristics of teachers, and the school settings in which they work, contribute to successful student outcomes. This information can then be used to help determine how better to educate and support successful teachers.
If high-quality teaching is essential to success in student learning and if the academic success and achievement of students can be linked to specific characteristics of teaching—such information might be used to argue against a recent trend in many districts toward dilution of requirements for teacher education and certification in response to teacher shortages, class-size reductions, and growing K student populations.
Figure provides an overview of how research data, recommendations of professional organizations and their reports, national standards for teachers of science and mathematics, and extant standards for K students in science and mathematics can influence the quality of K teachers, teaching, and student achievement. Before discussing further the various aspects of teacher quality, the study committee wishes to acknowledge and to emphasize that there are countless thousands of science and mathematics teachers who do excellent jobs in helping their students learn and achieve, often in very difficult circumstances and at.
Depicted are four areas examined in this report and describing what is known about preparing quality teachers and their impact on K student achievement in mathematics and science. Indeed, most of the concerns expressed in this report can be attributed to preparation and continuing professional development that are now either out-of-date or inadequate to meet the demands of new approaches to teaching and learning of science and mathematics.
However, everyone who is concerned about the quality of education should consider carefully adopting policies and practices that encourage the most qualified individuals to prepare for, enter, and remain in science and mathematics teaching and revamping or jettisoning those practices that dissuade or impede them from doing so.
Teaching different types of classes
In the last few years, a number of large-scale studies of teaching have elucidated how teacher quality makes a difference in the achievement of students. Three of these studies and their conclusions are summarized below. An examination of studies that focus more specifically on science and mathematics teaching and K student achievement follows. Later reports frequently cite studies by Sanders and colleagues see below , Ferguson , and Ferguson and Ladd as evidence that the qualifications of teachers not only matter in student achievement but also are major variables in improving student learning and achievement.
For over 15 years, Sanders and his colleagues associated with the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System TVAAS have analyzed data from annual tests in mathematics, science, reading, language, and social studies given to grade students in Tennessee. In this way, they have been able to identify a year when a child makes average progress, exceeds average progress, or achieves no gain. In a study intended to gauge the cumulative and residual effects of teacher qualifications on student achievement, Sanders and Rivers gathered test or achievement data for a cohort of students from the time they were second-graders to the time they had completed fifth grade.
By disaggregating the data, the researchers were able to see the impact of quality teaching on each child over time Sanders and Rivers, Sanders, Rivers, and their colleagues did not define teacher quality a priori. Conversely, a child who spent one year with a highly effective teacher tended to experience academic benefits even two years later.
In this and other studies, Sanders and his colleagues have shown that placing students in classrooms with high-quality teaching does matter.
Preparing to teach
In a study, Ferguson examined student scores on standardized tests in reading and mathematics, teacher qualifications, and class size in out of 1, school districts in Texas. Ferguson found that the following teacher qualifications, listed in order from most to least important, had statistically significant effects on student scores: Research that attempted to investigate the relationship between teacher quality and student achievement began in earnest in the s and s.
In a meta-analysis of previous work, Druva and Anderson uncovered a number of important and statistically significant positive correlations that shed light on the variable of teacher quality in science instruction. Teaching background, teacher behavior in the classroom, and student outcomes were examined. Findings included that teachers with greater content knowledge in a given subject and those with more teaching experience were more likely to ask higher level, cognitively based questions.
Teachers with more content knowledge also had a greater orientation toward seeking information from students through questioning and discussion in their teaching compared to teachers with less content knowledge. This was particularly significant in the case of biology teachers.
In , McDiarmid et al. These consistently positive correlations appear to support the importance of high levels of preparation for teachers in both content and pedagogy. This preparation and subsequent teaching experience also appear to enhance student achievement. Two groups, each of 18 teachers.
Both groups of teachers taught the same mathematics course in the same school to students of the same general ability. Pretest scores of students across the different groups did not differ significantly from each other. Researchers proceeded to examine comparative teacher effectiveness by looking at student achievement, 2 teacher professional skills, 3 and teacher knowledge of the subject field.
No significant differences were observed between the two groups based on years of teaching experience, years of experience teaching mathematics, or level of degree earned. Overall, in-field mathematics teachers knew more mathematics and showed evidence of using more effective teaching practices than did their out-of-field counterparts. Student achievement was measured with the Stanford Achievement Test general mathematics and the Stanford Test of Academic Skills algebra.
Teacher professional skills were observed for an entire class period twice during the seven-month period by trained observers who used the Carolina Teacher Performance Assessment System CTPAS. This instrument focuses on five teaching characteristics: The inter-rater reliability exceeded 90 percent. The fact that significant numbers of the more than , current secondary school science and mathematics teachers are teaching without full certification in these subjects should cause significant concern about the science and mathematics instruction children may or may not be receiving.
Fetler used scores from the administration of the Stanford Achievement Test Stanford 9 to 1. Fetler found that three variables related to teacher preparation correlated with student test scores: Specifically, 1 student test results correlated positively with amount of teaching experience, 2 lower average student test scores in a school corre-.
However, Neuschatz and McFarling were optimistic about what they reviewed as an improving situation in the teaching of physics: A third have degrees in physics or physics education, and if those with physics minors are included, the proportion approaches one-half … Virtually all the rest have a degree in mathematics or another science, or in math or science education.
Further, the number of people teaching physics with bachelors degrees in that discipline has increased during the s: Survey data collected by Neuschatz and McFarling also suggest that, at least for physics teachers, time spent teaching the subject also might influence the quality of teaching, irrespective of formal academic credentials in the discipline.
Many teachers without formal credentials in physics who were surveyed in had reported that they felt ill prepared to teach the subject. When surveyed again in , many of these same teachers saw themselves as adequately- or well-prepared to teach physics and attributed the change to the experience they had gained from actually preparing for and presenting the course, laboratories, and demonstrations. Neuschatz and McFarling emphasized, however, that definitive data are not yet available to determine whether the students of these experienced teachers without formal preparation in the discipline fare as well on physics examinations as students whose teachers have acquired formal credentials in physics.
After controlling for socioeconomic status, Fetler concluded that student achievement in mathematics significantly correlated with teacher experience and preparation. In light of the positive impact of infield teaching on student achievement, why is out-of-field teaching so prevalent and what might be done to curtail the practice? The data show a statistically significant correlation coefficient of 0. NAEP collects and reports information about the academic performance of American students in a wide variety of learning areas, including subjects such as reading, math, science, writing, world and U.
NAEP uses a complex matrix sampling design in order to cover a broad array of topics. The design allows for reporting of aggregated results for various population groups, but no individual results are reported. The Third International Mathematics and Science Study TIMSS collected information in the mids on student performance in these subjects around the world and also gathered information about teachers. In mathematics, fourth-grade students in the United States scored slightly above average on the TIMSS examination, but eighth- and twelfth-grade students performed below and well below average, respectively.
The findings from the science component of TIMSS indicate that fourth and eighth graders scored above the international average in science. Department of Education, b; Harmon et al. These findings suggest that a study of the characteristics of teachers in U. Department of Education, ; NRC, c , such as.
Japanese teachers widely practice what the U. An emphasis on cultivating student understanding is evident in the steps typical of Japanese grade 8 mathematics lessons. In contrast, an emphasis on skill acquisition is evident in the steps. Between 50 and eighth-grade classes in mathematics were videotaped in each country. The tapes were then digitized, transcribed, and translated into English. Expert evaluators coded the videotapes for the occurrence of specific content elements and teaching and curricular events and then analyzed the data quantitatively.
Teachers whose classes were videotaped also completed questionnaires about what they were planning to teach during the sessions so that teacher intentions and actual events could be compared. Similar video recordings are now being prepared that will examine science teaching in eighth-grade classrooms in different countries. These videos should be available late in It is important to recognize that directly relating the NAEP and TIMSS data about teacher training or practices and approaches to student performance is difficult at best.
For example, more experienced teachers with better mathematics backgrounds may be assigned to teach classes composed of more motivated or more well-prepared students U. Department of Education, Some of these factors are likely to have at least as much influence on test performance, if not more so, than teachers.
Despite these other interacting variables, however, it is revealing that nearly 40 percent of grade 8 students in the United States learn mathematics from teachers who do not have college majors in either mathematics or mathematics education Hawkins et al. Nonetheless, in terms of certification, many eighth-grade teachers have sufficient backgrounds in mathematics to be certified in mathematics in many states. For example, 15 units in mathematics with some specified variety of courses were cited as satisfactory preparation for junior high-school mathematics teachers in the last recommendations of the Mathematical Association of America 9 although some states do require additional units in the subject.
Yet, the TIMSS videos and test results suggest that even those teachers with certification in the discipline are teaching only a limited array of mathematical concepts and skills and doing so in ways that may be ineffective for long-term learning and mastery. An updated version of these recommendations from the Conference Board on the Mathematical Sciences will call for 21 hours in mathematics for all middle-school mathematics teachers.
These differences in approach and emphasis may account for the lower performance of U. It is telling that the eighth grade students whose teachers were most knowledgeable about the NCTM standards extant at that time performed better on the NAEP than did students whose teachers knew little or nothing about those standards Hawkins et al.
What level and type of subject-matter knowledge content knowledge do K teachers of science or mathematics need? Teacher educators and subject matter specialists have been trying to address this question for many years. One straightforward answer comes from examining the national standards in science and mathematics for grades K The national standards for K science and mathematics do not dictate the level of knowledge required of K teachers.
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Some find it reasonable to suggest, however, that, at a bare minimum, teachers should possess knowledge and deep understanding of the subject matter recommended for students at the level of their teaching and, preferably, one grade level category above their particular teaching level. In the United States, many but not all elementary schools contain grades K-5, while many middle schools are for students in grades Thus, in the middle band grades , some of the science content called for in the NSES might be taught at different schools.
It should be noted that acquiring the desirable depth of understanding at any level usually will require advanced study of the pertinent subject matter. A forthcoming publication from the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences see footnote 9 also will address issues of teacher education for prospective teachers of mathematics.
However, despite the seemingly straightforward guidance reviewed above, the question of what content teachers need is deceptively multifaceted and complex. At the elementary school level, this might be one to three courses, which, depending on the teacher education program or specific state requirements may or may not be tailored to prospective teachers at this grade level. At the secondary level, a teacher who teaches biology might be required to complete courses or demonstrate competency in genetics, ecology, physiology, microbiology, and conservation principles.
That teacher also needs to acquire some breadth of knowledge in the other sciences, as well as in mathematics. Some states require a major or at least a minor in the appropriate field but may not articulate the details of specific subjects a teacher is expected to have studied nor the minimum hours of coursework required.
To push more prospective teachers toward adequate content preparation, some states have limited the number of hours a candidate can take in education as part of the bachelor degree. For example, in , the Colorado state legislature adopted the following conditions for teacher licensure, including at the elementary grades:.
Other states, such as New York, have moved to a required five-year program, thereby ensuring that candidates have strong preparation in a major followed by a coherent teacher preparation program. In addition, a recent report from the American Federation of Teachers recommended that education for prospective teachers be organized as a five-year process at a minimum. It is important to keep in mind that when one examines the evidence of what it takes to teach science or mathematics well, increasing the teaching of content alone, without regard to how and in what context that content is taught, is insufficient.
For example, the knowledge base in many fields of science, mathematics, and technology is growing and changing so rapidly that specific content that a student learns during preparation for teaching may be out-of-date or may need to be revised substantially by the time that person begins teaching. Teaching prospective teachers content knowledge without helping them also to understand how to keep abreast of developments in their subject area cannot lead to effective teaching of these disciplines.
Science and mathematics educators agree that strong content preparation is necessary but also look at the way that content is taught. Teachers of science will be the representatives of the science community in their classrooms, and they form much of their image of science through the science courses they take in college. If that image is to reflect the nature of science as presented in the standards, prospective and practicing teachers must take science courses in which they learn science through inquiry, having the same opportunities as their students will have to develop understanding.
The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline s he or she teaches and can create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students. The teacher realizes that subject matter knowledge is not a fixed body of facts but is complex and ever evolving.
The teacher appreciates multiple perspectives and conveys to learners how knowledge is developed from the vantage point of the knower. The teacher can evaluate teaching resources and curriculum materials for their comprehensiveness, accuracy, and usefulness for representing particular ideas and concepts. The teacher engages students in generating knowledge and testing hypotheses according to the methods of inquiry and standards of evidence used in the discipline.
The teacher develops and uses curricula that encourage students to see, question, and interpret ideas from diverse perspectives. The teacher can create interdisciplinary learning experiences that allow students to integrate knowledge, skills, and methods of inquiry from several subject areas. But what research exists to support this recent emphasis upon knowing, understanding, and being able to do science and mathematics?
Ball contended that, to teach mathematics effectively, a teacher must have knowledge of mathematics and a conceptual understanding of the principles underlying its topics, rules, and definitions. Similarly, after an extensive review of science education, Coble and Koballa concluded that science content must be the centerpiece of the preparation of science teachers. What science or mathematics should a teacher know to be an effective teacher in these disciplines and subject areas?