Science teacher education in regional Australia: Evaluating enhancement and feedback/reflection modules designed to engage and motivate pre-service teachers of science

Year: 2015

Author: Woolcott, Geoff

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Maintaining high standards in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education is a critical for an industrialized economy. There is, however, a downtown in the availability of well-trained and motivated pre-service teachers that are a requirement for sustainability of such economies. This presentation reports on efforts that the Australian government has made in providing new initiatives in the education of pre-service teachers of science and mathematics through the project, It’s part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education. This project is designed to target specifically mathematics and science teacher education in regional and peri-urban Australia. The project combines the resources of the six partners of the Regional Universities Network (RUN) and their extensive experience in the provision of training and professional development, both pre-service and in-service, in mathematics and science teaching.
This presentation outlines one university’s engagement in this project and the use of collaborative nexus of scientists and educators to motivate pre-service teachers and improve their confidence and competence in teaching science. The presentation specifically examines the evaluation of two modules, an Enhancement Module and a Feedback/Reflection Module, used in iterations designed to assist pre-service teachers in developing engaging science lessons for their classrooms. This report is based on Phase I Trials of the Modules that involved a small sample of volunteers, as well as on scaled up versions of the Modules being trialed for delivery across a larger number of students within science education courses. The results indicate that both of the Modules positively engage the pre-service teachers, both together and separately, as well as the university scientists and specialist educators. The Modules and their iterations across the teaching lessons appear to be effective in grounding pre-service teacher education in targeting regional contexts relevant to the daily lives of both pre-service teachers and their classroom students. The Modules also contribute to improved confidence and competence in teaching science and provide a two-way interchange of ideas about science research and pedagogy. The combination of video resources based on the input of scientists and an innovative method for using affect in critical moment analysis appears to be a powerful development that has emerged from the trialing of these modules.