Overcoming barriers in geoscience education at the elementary level
The purpose of this study was to provide solutions to overcome the barriers of teaching geoscience according to elementary school teachers in Michigan. After two months of data collection, 37 public school teachers (100% Caucasian) with a geoscience teaching experience ranging from 1 to 30 years (M = 12) completed an online survey aimed to answer the following research questions: (a) What barriers do teachers face when teaching geoscience topics and (b) What are possible strategies to overcome these barriers? Answers were analyzed through descriptive statistics and qualitative research methods following a mixed-methods research approach. Preliminary results showed that teachers perceive the lack of resources, time, and geoscience knowledge as the principal barriers for teaching geoscience concepts. Issues associated with state standards and the primacy of other subject areas were also mentioned as significant barriers. Teacher-proposed solutions to overcome those barriers included being proactive in locating resources, improving their geoscience knowledge, and involving the school administration. Teachers’ geoscience pedagogical and concept knowledge, including their ability to integrate different subject areas, and their understanding of educational standards seemed to play a critical role in their perception of barriers. Implications for professional development and teacher education were discussed and a series of practical solutions were proposed. Semi-structured interviews with selected participants will be conducted to gain a deeper understanding of teacher perspectives. Teachers, policy makers, and teacher educators can apply the results of this study to develop short-term solutions in the classroom setting and more effective teacher education programs by emphasizing the critical role of pedagogical knowledge in science education.
Faculty Mentor: Pablo Llerandi-Roman, Geology
Page last modified July 14, 2009