Towson University (Elementary): Goals & Outcomes
The goal of Towson University’s Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) project was to improve a field experience (early science teaching) course for elementary education majors. The improvements were focused on
- making the different sections of the course more uniformly aligned with the course goals
- increasing the amount and quality of inquiry in the undergraduate interns’ science lessons
- helping the interns more fully understand and appreciate inquiry-based science instruction.
The project team, including various teachers-in-residence, engaged in a number of activities to improve the course:
- the re-establishment of clear course goals
- the coordination of the course and school partnerships by the project faculty, the development and testing of course activities
- the development and dissemination of instructor resources
- the design and use of instructor and mentor teacher workshops.
A key improvement for the field experience course involved our switching to a multiple-interns-per-class teaching structure.
As a result of our project activities, when compared to baseline data:
- The field experience interns spent more time teaching (and less time observing), and the interns more frequently taught modified science lessons (rather than teaching the official lessons as-is).
- The interns’ science lessons focused more frequently on scientific investigations and the communication of ideas (rather than scientific demonstrations, lectures, and the verification of ideas).
- The interns’ attitudes and beliefs about science and science teaching shifted in a more positive direction.
- Lastly, the project team learned numerous lessons about large-scale course reform pertaining to effective course structure, different forms of inquiry lessons, realistic course goals, course coordination, and attitude and belief outcomes, and has made progress toward securing a full-time staff position to help maintain the project gains.