Guest Editorial: Technology Proficiencies in Science Teacher Education


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Guest Editorial: Technology Proficiencies in Science Teacher Education
  Park, J. C., & Slykhuis, D. A. (2006). Guest Editorial: Technology proficiencies in science teachereducation. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education , 6 (2), 218-229.218 Guest Editorial: Technology Proficiencies inScience Teacher Education John C. Park    North Carolina State University  Technology Committee, Association for Science Teacher Education ASTE Representative to the National Technology Leadership CoalitionDavid A. Slykhuis   James Madison University  Technology Committee, Association for Science Teacher Education ASTE Asst. Representative to the National Technology Leadership CoalitionThe mission of the Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE) is to promoteleadership in and support for those involved in the professional development of teachersof science. The organization srcinated in the late 1920s through visits and meetings todiscuss science teacher education standards among faculty members of teacher educationinstitutions in the northeast region of the United States. Eventually, the “Conference onthe Education of Science Teachers” became a national organization. In 1953, themembers of the conference voted to change the name to the Association for the Educationof Teachers in Science (AETS). The name was revised in 2004 to the present ASTE.The leadership of the organization met in 1993 to establish the present mission statementand to create goal statements to guide the organization into the future. One of these goalstatements was “to produce and promote guidelines for improving science teachereducation.” In 2002, an ad hoc technology committee was created to provide leadershipthrough technology-based workshops and sessions and to assist with the selection of thenew National Technology Leadership Initiative award for science education. Thiscommittee consisted of professionals who integrated instructional technology in theirteaching, developed new technologies or methodologies implementing technology, andresearched the effects of technology in the learning and teaching of science and scienceeducation.  Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 6 (2)219  Although there had been previous examples of creating guidelines for instructionaltechnology for teacher education (Flick & Bell, 2000; ISTE, 2002), the ASTE had noguidelines or position papers specifically for technology in science teacher education. In2004, the ASTE Technology Committee co-chairs, Alec M. Bodzin and John C. Park, began working with the committee to establish a position statement on technology inscience teacher education on behalf of the organization. In 2005, the ASTE board of directors revised and approved the document (seeappendix). They also changed thestatus of the Technology Committee from ad hoc to standing committee.Using technology as a tool for science inquiry by pupils in the school science classroomand laboratory is the central theme of the ASTE position statement. This is congruent with the  National Science Education Standards (National Research Council [NRC],1996), which emphasized that science should be learned using inquiry methods. Themethodologies related to using technology tools in school science discussed in the ASTEdocument can be categorized into four broad groups: (a) Gathering scientific information;(b) data collection and analysis by pupils; (c) creating and using models of scientificphenomena; and (d) communication. Gathering Scientific Information Thirty years ago, when a pupil needed to find information about a topic in science, they might have been able to find it in reference books in the classroom, or they could go to thelibrary and search through encyclopedias or journals. Today, in the Internet Age whencomputers are easily accessed, when more information is needed about a specific topic,most people use a search engine on the Web. This is no less true for pupils in schoolscience. If pupils need to find out about the specifics of a certain element, they can searchthe Web to find WebElements™, and with a click of a button they can find interestingfacts about any element from the periodic table. If they want to locate information aboutthe North America robin, a search would probably turn up the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where abundant information about many species of birds could be easily reviewed.Locating resources is much easier than it has been in the past due to the use of information technology. However, learners must evaluate the resources they discover.Most anyone can publish a Web page, whether the information found in the site is factualor not. Preservice science teachers need the skills to evaluate the validity of Web sites.Bodzin (2005) created an instrument (Web-based Inquiry for Learning Science – WBI)that guides teachers to identify Web-based inquiry activities for learning science. The WBI directs the teachers to classify those activities along a continuum from learner-directed to materials-directed for each of the five essential features of inquiry (NRC,2000). Instruments of this type help preservice science teachers develop the evaluationskills necessary to select appropriate Web sites for inquiry activities in the classroom.Scientific information can also be collected and distributed via the Web to enhancescience learning. Although there are numerous projects on the Web that allow pupils andscientists to collaborate in the data collection and analyzation process, one such project isthe GLOBE project ( ). The GLOBE project can be used by elementary through secondary pupils to learn about ecology and biology. Bombaugh,Sparrow, and Mal (2003) illustrated how this process can help foster inquiry learning in ahigh school biology class. The use of secondary data is highly desirable when the pupilsare unable to measure and collect the data themselves. However, whenever possible thenational standards promote student collection of data for subsequent analysis.  Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 6 (2)220 Data Collection and Analysis by Pupils The science curriculum projects of the late 1950s and 1960s focused upon posingproblems for pupil investigations. The curriculum provided additional media andmaterials to aid pupil understanding of the concepts being studied. Science process skills were emphasized, and the school science laboratory was the center of learning. The  National Science Education Standards (National Research Council, 1996) embraced thesame philosophy. The science teaching standards include the following: •   Teaching Standard A: Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science programfor their students. •   Teaching Standard B: Teachers of science guide and facilitate learning. •   Teaching Standard D: Teachers of science design and manage learningenvironments that provide students with the time, space, and resources neededfor learning science. •   Teaching Standard E: Teachers of science develop communities of sciencelearners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry and the attitudesand social values conducive to science learning.Data can be collected from a variety of sources, measurements can be made from eventsthat happen within the classroom, quantitative and qualitative data can be measured orobserved from still or moving images, and data can be “mined” from the Web that pupilscan analyze. The next few sections discuss methodology for collecting this data throughimages, graphics, and probeware. Scientific Visualization The teaching of school science has a history of invention and use of instructionaltechnology. A review of early school science textbooks reveals an extensive use of representative and analytical drawings and photographs. Early projection devices, called“magic lanterns,” projected photographic images developed on glass plates. Soon aftermotion picture cameras and projectors were invented, science teachers were usingmoving picture technology in their classrooms. Before the advent of talking-pictures,societies promoting visual education encouraged the use of both still and moving imagesin all course subjects. Early science teachers wanted to “fix” the images that pupils were viewing or drawing onto the pupils’ minds, much as chemicals fix the photographic imageonto film.From that early history, the importance of the use of images in science education wasnever disputed. Whether the image is on a glass plate and is projected on the wall in ascience classroom in 1905, or the sequence of images is viewed in a QuickTime™ movieon the Internet in 2005, the science teacher needs to emphasize the power of keenobservation skills.Media that display scientific visualizations consist of two main types: Images of actualobjects (photographs); or graphics of objects, graphs, or other representations of ideas ordata. For example, a photograph of common table salt can be used to show the color andgeneral cubic shape of the salt grains. An electron microscope may produce an image of the surface of the salt crystal; however, the orientation of the particles that make up thesalt crystal would most likely be shown in a graphic, with spheres representing thesodium and chloride ions in a specific pattern. A pupil could watch a movie of a saltcrystal slowly dissolving in water, or the pupil could watch an animation of the molecular bombardment by the water molecules on the crystal, and subsequent dynamic  Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 6 (2)221 distribution of the ions amongst water molecules. The different visualizations of the samephenomena yield different understandings about what is happening.Linn (2003) reported that visualizations of abstract phenomena are most useful. Forexample, complex data sets can be made into visualizations that describe weatherpatterns, molecular structures, heat flow, and geologic structures. She warned, however,that some representations can either mislead pupils or reinforce intuitive ideas. Forexample, pupils attributed features to individual molecules that are actually attributed tothe aggregate of molecules such as color, viscosity, or structure after interacting withmolecular visualizations.Sandvoss et al. (2003) described the development of the Common Molecules graphicscollection. This is a Web-based resource of interactive 3-D representations of molecules.These molecular representations can be viewed as wire models, ball and stick models, orspace filling models. Pupils can click and drag on the images to view the molecules from various perspectives. There are options to view them using special glasses that producethe anaglyph 3D effect. Image Analysis Geographic Information Systems technology is a tool that empowers pupils to engage inreal-life scenarios while they identify problems, hypothesize, collect data, developprocedures, and produce workable results that they communicate to others (Ramirez & Althouse, 1995). Research by Baker (2002) included eighth-grade Earth science pupils who studied local air quality indicators using GIS. The GIS pupils showed a modestimprovement in their integration of science process skills, particularly data analysis(geographic and mathematical) activities. Hagevik (2003) found that using GIS may aidpupils in constructing concepts and in promoting understanding of environmentalcontent, problem solving, experimental design, and data analysis and in communicatingfindings to others.The video technology of 2005 enables pupils to analyze motion electronically. Using adigital video camera on a tripod, video editing software, and video analysis software,pupils can shoot, edit, and analyze one- or two-dimensional motion.Suppose a pupil desires to analyze the motion of a toy “pull-back” car. The pupil sets upthe event on a table where the motion will be perpendicular to the line between the videocamera and the event. Included in the scene is an object of known length that is the samedistance from the camera as the motion event. The pupil starts the video camera and begins the motion event; once recorded, the digital information can be transferred to a video-editing program where only the most salient motion is kept. The pupil creates atitle page that gives pertinent information regarding the event, such as the title of theevent, the creators of the video, and the mass of the pull-back car. The edited video issaved as a QuickTime movie. The analysis software is opened and the movie is importedinto the software. With a click of a few buttons, the movie is scaled to the desired size, thereference length in the movie is calibrated, and then the pupil places a point on the front bumper of the car. The movie advances to the next frame for another point. This processcontinues until the pupil completes each frame in the video. Since the computer hasstored the frame rate of the video, and the calibrated distance from one point to the nextin each succeeding frame, the computer can compute distance, velocity, and accelerationduring the motion of the object. Having the mass of the car stored in the computermemory, the net force acting on the car can be calculated at regular intervals of the video.  Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 6 (2)222  Another motion analysis technique would be to create a “stop-motion” animation movie.Instead of creating motion and videotaping the event, the pupil would create individualframes of an object with slight variation of position between subsequent frames. Knowingthe distance the object is moved, and the frame rate used in assembling the movie, theobject would be seen traveling at a specific rate. See Park and Bell (2005) for specificdetails on the creation and use of stop-motion animation in physical science activities. Probeware and Analysis Software Probeware is the term describing the use of transducers that change measured physicalquantities into electrical quantities that can be interpreted by microprocessors. Thesetransducers react to changes in physical environments such as temperature, pressure,force, or pH. Most transducers, or probes, connect to interfaces that are, in turn,connected to microcomputers, calculators, or palm devices. A calibrated device can beinterpreted by the microprocessor, and the data can be displayed in tabular or graphicform. The transducer, interface, microprocessor, and software can be collectively referredto as probeware. For examples of the wide variety of probeware available, check VernierSoftware and Technology ( and PASCO(, both of which market many of the common probewaresystems to schools.The first study of probeware with children occurred in 1982 by Tinker and Barclay. Tinkerreported that this was the “first indication of the power of kinesthetic real-timeinteractions to lead to understandings of abstract representations” (Tinker, 2000, p. 7).In the same study, the short exposure of pupils to the apparatus helped them to have anintuitive understanding of decimal numbers. Mokros and Tinker (1987) later found that if pupils walked back and forth in front of a motion detector while they were watching thegraph of their motion they could quickly learn to interpret position graphs.In that same year, Brassell (1987) reported that the simultaneous display of the real-timedata resulted in significant learning, whereas a delayed display of the data did not. Theuse of the displayed data to encourage pupil learning was confirmed in a study by Russell,Lucas, and McRobbie (2003). They ascertained that “students used the display, almostexclusively, as representing the experimental phenomena or task problem” (p. 225), “thenature of the display was supportive of a deep approach to learning” (p. 229), “studentscritically evaluated the appearance of the graphic display” (p. 230), and “the kinematicsgraphic display supported students’ working memory” (p. 234).The use of probeware in itself is not the “magic pill” for learning in science education.Tailored designs of data collection and representation technology are required for bestresults. Linn and Hsi (2000) reported that after a series of eight iterations of changes in a12-week thermodynamics curriculum, using real-time data collection resulted in a 400%increase in pupil understanding of the differences between heat and temperature. Thisresearch led to a new framework called scaffolded knowledge integration, which offersprinciples of experimental design for learning science and practices that promoteknowledge integration (Linn, 2003).Laboratory activities using probeware are also not inherently inquiry activities, as theprobeware could be used in “cookbook” fashion. Royuk and Brooks (2003), however,found that when probeware was designed to be used in an inquiry-based manner learning was increased compared to traditional cookbook labs in a college physics class. Slykhuis(2004) demonstrated that inquiry-based curriculum that incorporates the use of probeware could be effectively delivered over the Web to high school physics pupils.
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