Why Science Matters to Early Childhood Preservice Teachers? (Guest blogger: Dr. Abha Singh)

In current times, career options for today’s children are in the field’s which require knowledge of science and math. Any reduction in the science could lead to a domino effect with an initiation of science content restriction early on which results (I think) in students not having an interest in science, and may lack stronger science foundation, which may further lead them not to pursue science careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in the future.

This makes science different from other content areas.

I think we need to think about – what message about science are we conveying to our pre-service teachers, and then to children by reducing the semester hours for the only ECH science methods course?

I’ve listed a few points from the attached article – STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) SMART BRIEF.

The problem:

  1. Approximately 40% of U.S. children are not ready for kindergarten, and too many children reach Grade 4 lacking key science and math skills and knowledge.
  2. Only 34% of Grade 4 students achieved a score of “At or Above Proficient” on the science portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP, 2014), which means, 66% of students DO NOT achieve a score of “At or Above Proficient” on the science portion of the NAEP.

Possible Reasons for the Problem from Research:

The main challenges are in three crucial areas of the PreK-3 grades learning landscape that bar the way to the successful STEM learning of children ages 3 to 8.

  1. Curriculum and Instruction
  2. Educator Development
  3. Standards

Teachers are the key ingredient in effective PreK–3 STEM learning. They must be prepared to adeptly draw upon strategies to promote children’s learning and tailor curriculum to meet the needs of each child.

Yet recent reports indicate that current systems of PreK–3 teacher preparation, licensure, and hiring are often inadequate, and that young children’s educators do not have the training they need to support children’s learning.

Conclusion:

Teachers who have received high-quality pre-service and in-service training focused on science, effective instruction and curriculum, and how to draw upon standards and assessment to enhance each child’s STEM learning is essential.


References

Bornfreund, L. A. (2011, March). Getting in sync: Revamping licensing and preparation for teachers in pre-Kindergarten, and the early grades. Washington, DC: The New America Foundation

U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. (2011).Science 2009: National Assessment of Educational Progress at Grades 4, 8, and 12. Washington, DC: Author.

Clements, D., Agodini, R., & Harris, B. (2013, September). Instructional practices and student math achievement: Correlations from a study of math curricula. NCEE Evaluation Brief. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20134020/pdf/20134020.pdf

Worth, K. (2010, May). Science in early childhood classrooms: Content and process. Paper presented at the STEM in Early Education and Development Conference, Cedar Falls, IA. http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/beyond/seed/ worth.html

Clements, D. (2013, September). Math in the early years. ECS Research Brief: The Progress of EducationalReform, 14(5). Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/4787293/ Math_in_the_Early_Years_ECS_Research Brief_The_progress_of_educational_reform


Dr. Abha Singh is an Associate Professor at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois USA. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in science education and education. Dr. Singh has facilitated several science professional development (PD) for elementary, middle and high school in-service teachers for ISBE grant initiatives through the Regional Office of Education: 1. Northern Illinois Mathematics and Science (NIMS) for two years; 2. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) PD for Western Illinois Mathematics Teacher Transformation Institute (WI-MTTI) for two years; 3. PD for K-6 teachers in the integration of science and literacy through a grant from the Tracey Family Foundation. Her research is in the area of integrating science and literacy. She presents at State, National and International Conferences and facilitates science education workshops for in-service science teachers. Her research is in teaching science with literacy.

Correspondence: A-Singh@wiu.edu

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