Cases in Middle and Secondary Science Education: The Promise and Dilemmas

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9780130824684: Cases in Middle and Secondary Science Education: The Promise and Dilemmas

This casebook is ideal for preservice teachers to use as a problem-solving vehicle for science teaching and learning at the middle and secondary levels. It assists in developing an understanding of prevailing instructional practices and challenges current traditional approaches with convincing arguments that are supported by research. Ten of the twelve chapters contain 3-4 cases each; the initial chapter introduces the case method and the final chapter describes how to develop a cases based on teachers' personal experiences. Highlights the many dilemmas associated with middle school and secondary science teaching. Provides possible solutions for open cases and responses to closed cases. Includes case commentaries. Presents situations that are embedded contextually and do not have a right answer or a clear solution. The text is intended for beginning and experienced middle school and secondary science teachers, science teacher educators, science teacher mentors, and school administrators. It is also appropriate for secondary education courses at the graduate level.

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Science teaching is a complex and uncertain endeavor. Today, middle school and secondary science teachers are called on to develop learning environments that facilitate students' construction of science understandings, skills, and attitudes. They must make decisions about curricula, instructional and assessment strategies, and their own professional development. In addition, teachers must be prepared to work with students from diverse cultural backgrounds and consider how what they do in their classrooms contributes to science education reform. Cases in Middle and Secondary Science Education: The Promise and Dilemmas is about the challenging situations that arise in middle school and secondary science teaching and how to handle these situations. The science teachers, science teacher educators, and scientists who have contributed to this book are knowledgeable in many aspects of science and science teaching and learning. In their contributions, they have highlighted many dilemmas associated with middle school and secondary science teaching and have offered suggestions for improving practice and stimulating critical thinking about the science learning environment.

This book is intended for beginning and experienced middle school and secondary science teachers, science teacher educators, science teacher mentors, and school and school district administrators. It is ideal for use as a problem-solving vehicle and tool for reflection by preservice teachers. It will assist them in developing an understanding of prevailing instructional practices in science at the middle and secondary levels and current attempts to reform traditional approaches to science teaching and learning. Additionally, the book will be very useful for inservice workshops and secondary education courses at the graduate level. And schools and universities that are collaborating in reform will be able to use this case handbook as a guide in their reform efforts.

Organization of the Text

As with the first edition of this book, this second edition consists of 12 chapters, with the first chapter serving to introduce the case method and the final chapter describing how to develop cases based on teachers' personal experiences. Chapters 2 through 11 each contain three or four cases that focus on different dilemmas related to the chapter topic. These range from `Adolescent Learners in Science" and "Reform and Science Curriculum" to "Organizing a Positive Learning Environment" and "Student Teaching Science and Mentoring." Found among the chapters is a mixture of open cases—those that involve unresolved dilemmas—and closed cases (in which the author is able to arrive at a solution for the dilemma described.) Each case ends with "Questions for Reflection and Discussion." Commentaries that provide possible "solutions" for open cases and "responses" to closed cases follow all but two novel cases. "Resources to Consider" are found at the end of each of these chapters. For this edition, Chapters 2 through 11 have been improved through the addition and revision of cases and commentaries. Five new cases bring attention to dilemmas associated with culturally relevant science teaching and planning, teaching reading in the science class, and formative assessment to improve science instruction.

The Classroom Cases and Commentaries

This second edition will be particularly valuable to educators who recognize that science teaching and learning occur in a world of uncertainty and that teaching is deeply rooted in our personalities and experiences as learners. Classroom cases provide the problem posing and dialogical learning environment needed to facilitate reflective and critical thinking about the dilemmas and problematic situations that arise in middle school and secondary science teaching. These situations are embedded contextually and do not have a correct answer or tidy solution. This allows individuals to define the problem, identify alternatives, choose a course of action, plan for implementation, and consider possible consequences of the given actions. These activities are often enhanced when several individuals grapple with the same problem at once. A classroom case, as the centerpiece of deliberation, can stimulate reflection among beginning and experienced teachers learning to become better classroom problem solvers.

As was recommended for the first edition, this second edition should be used interactively and to complement other science teaching and learning resources. It should not be used as a stand-alone science methods textbook. We recommend that individuals read a case and use the "Questions for Reflection and Discussion" to facilitate their reflective thinking and discussion before. examining the case commentaries. Some commentaries offer reflections on the case's problematic situations by the case author, whereas others provide an expert's constructive critique of the case. It is hoped that the commentaries will shed new light on the case and provide a different perspective from which to consider the problem or the proposed solution. After reading the commentaries, individuals may wish to revisit "Questions for Reflection and Discussion."

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Thomas R. Koballa, Deborah J. Tippins
Published by Prentice Hall (1999)
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