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and 5-8 teachers with general certification, undergraduate introductory science courses often are the only science courses taken. Because of the crucial role of such courses, reform in the content and teaching of undergraduate science is imperative. The courses for practicing teachers—those taught at universities as part of graduate programs as well as those typically included in school-based, inservice programs—also require redesign.
[See System Standard B]
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 that they take in college. If that image is to reflect the nature of science as presented in these 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. College science faculty therefore must design courses that are heavily based on investigations, where current and future teachers have direct contact with phenomena, gather and interpret data using appropriate technology, and are involved in groups working on real, open-ended problems. Those science courses must allow teachers to develop a deep understanding of accepted scientific ideas and the manner in which they were formulated. They must also address problems, issues, events, and topics that are important to science, the community, and teachers.
Learning science through inquiry should also provide opportunities for teachers to use scientific literature, media, and technology to broaden their knowledge beyond the scope of immediate inquiries. Courses in science should allow teachers to develop understanding of the logical reasoning that is demonstrated in research papers and how a specific piece of research adds to the accumulated knowledge of science. Those courses should also support teachers in using a variety of technological tools, such as computerized databases and specialized laboratory tools.
In the vision described by the Standards, all prospective and practicing teachers who
Teachers of science will be the representatives of the science community in their classrooms.
study science participate in guided activities that help them make sense of the new content being learned, whether it comes by lecture, reading, small-group discussion, or laboratory investigation. Courses and other activities include ongoing opportunities for teachers to reflect on the process and the outcomes of their learning. Instructors help teachers understand the nature of learning science as they develop new concepts and skills. Those who teach science must be attentive to the scientific ideas that teachers bring with them, provide time for learning experiences to be shared, and be knowledgeable about strategies that promote and encourage reflection.
Science faculty also need to design courses for prospective and practicing teachers that purposely engage them in the collaborative aspects of scientific inquiry. Some aspects of inquiry are individual efforts, but many are not, and teachers need to experience the value and benefits of cooperative work as well as the struggles and tensions that it can produce.
Marking the culmination of a three-year, multiphase process, on April 10th, 2013, a 26-state consortium released the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a detailed description of the key scientific ideas and practices that all students should learn by the time they graduate from high school.