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This forum's final theme was the state of pre-college science and mathematics education. Many participants urged the postsecondary community to lend active support to K-12 education reform by adjusting college admission requirements and SME&T courses to reflect the current national standards for K-12 mathematics and science. In addition, participants said that courses for prospective teachers should not simply mimic courses for science majors but should be more specifically attuned to teachers' needs. Some participants wondered whether there should be special content courses for future teachers and, if so, how to decide what those courses should contain. However, most participants agreed that prospective teachers should learn their science as other science students do. Thus, their science methods courses should be taught in science buildings and should include laboratories. Courses should be taught in ways that students will be expected to teach in their own classrooms. Early field placement was also considered an essential component of effective preparation of K-12 teachers so that these students can apply as soon as possible the information, skills, and techniques they learn in their college classrooms and laboratories.
Discussions from this forum helped the committee prepare Visions2, 4, and 5.
Forum Hosted by a State Educational Organization
Florida Department of Education: This forum, although physically based in Tampa, was an interactive teleconference with participants at seven sites around the state. It examined the implications of standards-based education for introductory college science courses.
Participants began by considering the opportunities and challenges that national and state mathematics and science education standards might present to undergraduate SME&T education. For example, as K-12 mathematics and science reform efforts become more ingrained in the K-12 system, students from different schools systems might increasingly be expected to matriculate at postsecondary institutions with a greater parity of skills and understanding in SME&T. If these students come to their college study of SME&T with greater experience in inquiry-based and collaborative learning, they may have different expectations for their postsecondary learning experiences. Therefore, university administrations and faculty should consider how they will respond to new expectations.
One way that postsecondary institutions might prepare is by creating cross-disciplinary task forces that could spearhead new programs for prospective SME&T teachers and other SME&T-based disciplines. For example, teachers of both science and mathematics should learn how to help their students develop quantitative reasoning skills. More coherent integration of pedagogy and SME&T content in undergraduate courses that have been aligned with the goals and objectives of the science and mathematics standards could facilitate this goal. A more systemic plan could involve developing and implementing a capstone course for prospective teachers that integrates SME&T content and methods and is in concert with the goals and expectations of the NRC's National Science Education Standards and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards for curriculum and professional development. Practicing teachers could collaborate with college faculty in the development of such courses to enhance course effectiveness and simultaneously to gain valuable professional development.
As in other forums, participants at this one clearly identified the roles that university and college administrators must play in recognizing and responding to the challenges of standards-based experiences that incoming students increasingly will bring to the institutions. Participants looked to deans and provosts as the academic leaders in higher education to accept the charge of responding and to respond, in part, by using introductory and other required SME&T courses as