ngss-aligned planning tools

Supporting Undergraduate Preservice Science Teachers through the Development of an NGSS-Aligned Unit Planning Tool

This project aims to serve pre-service science teachers and K-12 students nationally by positively impacting the ability of science teacher educators to support undergraduate pre-service science teachers in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) through the construction and testing of an innovative unit planning tool. The tool will provide a research-based structure to the unit design process while also providing “just-in-time” resources for pre-service teachers as they learn to merge ambitious science instruction with curriculum design. These efforts are timely as national, state, and district leaders are rapidly identifying the robust demands placed on educators and learners by the new standards. This Level 1 Engaged Student Learning IUSE project employs design-based research. By preparing and disseminating the ongoing work and results of the project at state and national levels, this project intends to contribute to the ongoing nationwide effort to generate a concrete model of research-based strategies to support pre-service science teachers to engage all students in the practices of science through model-based inquiry that are well aligned with the NGSS and supportive of students’ engagement in rich representations of science in classrooms.

The researchers intend to design, implement, and study a planning tool with embedded instructional heuristics to enable undergraduate secondary education students to engage their future K-12 students in NGSS-designed units for the purpose of learning about the epistemic practices of science for classroom implementation. The set of scientific practices for the construction of new knowledge and research in science education are central to the two-course methods sequence that will benefit from this project in two different institutional contexts. The integration of these practices into the K-12 science classroom in order to provide students a more authentic view of the scientific enterprise is an anticipated outcome of the use of this project developed tool. The practices, as outlined in the NGSS, are many; however, this project intends to provide a model that can serve as an umbrella under which the remaining scientific practices can be embedded. Thus, modeling, integrated into the classroom in the form of model-based inquiry, is central to the planning tool to support teachers’ understanding and enactment of the scientific practices in their classrooms. Multiple example units designed to prepare pre-service secondary science teachers for the challenges of implementing the NGSS in their classrooms will be constructed as part of the planning tool. Approximately 60 undergraduate pre-service science teachers and four experienced in-service teachers will be involved over three years. Using a mixed-methods design, the researchers aim to examine how the planning tool impacts the pre-service teachers’ design and classroom enactment of instructional units as well as the impact of those units on secondary students’ facility with the science and engineering practices and understandings of targeted disciplinary core ideas. Dissemination of the units, research, and the NGSS-aligned planning tool with embedded instructional heuristics developed during this project are expected to provide other science teacher educators a framework to improve undergraduate pre-service science teaching and learning nationally. The NSF IUSE: EHR Program supports research and development projects to improve the effectiveness of STEM education for all students.

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