Bringing Informal Science Education to Elementary Pre-service Teacher Preparation
The purpose of this study was to explore how a health-based informal science education course, as part of an elementary undergraduate teacher preparation program, influenced pre-service teachers’ ideas about formal and informal science teaching and learning. Additionally, the study explored how the course impacted their understandings of the value of bridging informal science to supplement formal instruction. Qualitative study data were gathered through two (mid- and end-of-semester) focus group interviews with five pre-service teachers enrolled in a health-based informal science course. Analysis of data indicated that the inclusion of informal science education experiences during PST preparation has the potential to support novice teachers’ developing ideas about science teaching and learning including ways to connect science to students’ lives and make science engaging and meaningful. Findings are reported in four key themes that emerged from the data: (a) formal teacher preparation and informal education, (b) connections between formal and informal science education, (c) personal and professional collaborations, and (d) benefits of informal science education.
Informal science education; elementary; teacher preparation
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