zation of higher education institutions, most subject matter preparation is delivered outside of schools of education. For instance, prospective science teachers complete courses in separate departments dedicated to various areas within the biological, earth, and physical sciences (Anderson and Mitchener, 1994). Faculty members in discipline-based departments may hold beliefs about teaching and learning science that differ from those held by education faculty. Coordination, communication, and common goals for teacher candidates are often difficult to accomplish across departments (or across colleges within a university) due to their physical separation, as well as to differing perspectives on education.
Prospective teachers also complete “methods” courses about the dynamics of classroom teaching and learning in particular content areas. Such courses, together with the modeling of pedagogical ideas by teacher educators and clinical experiences (e.g., supervised student teaching), constitute core experiences in mathematics, science, or technology teaching.
Criteria for successful completion of a teacher preparation program and for securing a teaching certificate are influenced by professional accrediting bodies and state policy makers. These criteria define the base knowledge and skills expected of new teachers embarking on their professional work in classrooms. Associations such as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) have set standards for accrediting teacher preparation programs. States employ NCATE or similar criteria in evaluating and approving undergraduate teacher preparation programs and implement accountability systems intended to ensure that institutions adhere to those criteria (Hirsch, Koppich, and Knapp, 2000).
State requirements for initial teacher certification vary; some require students to major in an academic discipline, while others allow an education major. Some states specify how many courses or