Zembal-Saul - Science Education 2009

Learning to teach elementary school science as argument
Sci Ed 1-33, 2009

Carla Zembal-Saul

New views of proficiency in K-8 science that highlight the importance of engaging children in the discourses and practices of science have raised the stakes for elementary teachers and the teacher educators who prepare them. In this paper, a framework for teaching science as argument is presented. The framework is advanced as a means of addressing problems of practices faced by preservice teachers, creating coherence for the design of teacher education experiences, and serving as a tool for shaping a design-based research agenda. Findings of three research studies that examined preservice teachers' developing understandings and practices for teaching science as argument and the ways in which teacher education experiences mediated learning are synthesized. Across the studies, findings suggest that the framework serves as a powerful scaffold for preservice teachers' developing thinking and practice. More specifically, early attention to evidence and argument can leverage other important aspects of effective science teaching, such as attention to classroom discourse and the role of the teacher in monitoring and assessing children's thinking. In closing, a case is made for coherence among science learning opportunities, learning to teach science experiences, and field experiences.