Science Education Online

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Ediger, Marlow 

Science Education Online. 

2002-05-00 
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Opinion Papers (120) 

MF01/PC01 Plus Postage. 

Curriculum; Distance Education; ^Educational Technology; 
Higher Education; *Science Education; Teacher Education 



ABSTRACT 



Offering courses online is a big trend in today's teacher 
education. This new trend requires students' self development, achievement, 
and growth. This paper discusses courses that can be offered online and their 
criteria, and the quality of science courses and the standards they need to 
meet. (Contains 10 references.) (YDS) 




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^ An innovative trend in teacher education is for students to 

£ take courses online. There is considerable merit in emphasizing 
P ! this approach. The convenience of using the home computer to 

w | take classes saves much time indeed instead of driving to a 

university campus. The hassle of locating a university parking 
space, when commuting to a class, can be time consuming, 
especially when university home basketball games are being 
played. When taking a university class, the author drove 120 
miles round trip during the latter 1950s after teaching all day. This 
was done twice a week to complete master degree requirements. 

The rest of the masters’ degree program was taken in summer 
and on Saturdays. Time spent in driving to and from taking 
classes might have been spent better in working online and 
focusing upon course work. To say the least, time was lost in 
sleeping. Any teacher and school administrator needs adequate 
hours of sleep to feel his/her best. 

When working online, the university student needs to 
motivate the self to achieve, grow, and develop. There is no time 
schedule to follow. No professor is there to call the roll to see if 
students are attending class. Thus, the student must set up a 
flexible time schedule to work online. If a person is head of a 
family, he/she may take care of family responsibilities and then 
work online. The ambitious student may work harder than others 
to complete course requirements. A student with much ability 
might also complete lessons more quickly that those of lesser 
talents. This all sounds fine so far for most science education 
students be they undergraduate or graduate students 
(Education Week, May 9, 2002). 



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SCIENCE EDUCATION ONLINE 



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Science Education and Quality 




Science courses online should meet definite standards 
such as 

1. having adequate hands on experiences for students to 
work as scientists do. 

2. stressing relevant subject matter which is vital and 
significant. The subject matter must be useful for university 
students to use in teaching public school pupils. 

3. emphasizing appropriate skills for learners to apply in 
classroom teaching. These skills emphasize that university 
students learn about the proper and efficient use of science 
materials of instruction. 

4. developing proper student attitudes toward objectivity, 

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interests in science, and toward other learners. 

5. wanting to be a life long learner (Ediger and Rao, 2001, 
Chapter Two). 

Perhaps, one notices weaknesses here in teacher 
education online pertaining to the curriculum area of science. 
Thus, the university student would need to experience hands on 
science learning experiences when these are integrated with 
online lessons and assessed by the writer of online course 
work. Relevant subject matter, no doubt, can be acquired online; 
however it will not be integrated with actual field work in science 
involving an actual classroom. Skills to be acquired by 
university students in teaching science must involve the actual 
items and objects used by good teachers. Attitudes are hard to 
assess in online instruction. Better it would be if the instructor 
writing course content online could actually observe the 
university student and his/her attitudes toward the science 
curriculum. It almost appears as if online course work does not 
harmonize with the teaching of science unless additions and 
modifications are made. Certainly, it is possible for online 
learning and a hands on approach in learning the methods and 
content of science can be harmonized (Ediger, 2000, Chapter 
One). 



Courses Which Can Be Taken Online 

Selected general education classes can be taken online. 

For example, American History and World History may be taken 
online. The basal textbooks together with pictured maps, globes, 
illustrations, and diagrams online can make for a quality course 
if the activities represent excellence. Both of these courses 
contain historical subject matter dealing with progress made in 
science and the scientific method. It is important for the student 
to secure an appreciation of the increased sophisticated 
approaches of science as the centuries have unfolded. Perhaps, 
an entire course on the history and philosophy of the scientific 
method is available for students online. Scientific literacy needs 
to be stressed in teaching and learning situations. 

Required courses in geography also may be taken online. 
The geology elements of geography, in particular, become 
relevant for the science education major. However, in pointing 
out the science aspects of history and geography classes is 
not to minimize their entire curriculum. The well educated science 
educator is also cross disciplinarian and is broadly educated. 
There are times in developing the science curriculum in the 

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public schools when integrated science/ social science 
classes are highly recommended. Too frequently, academic 
disciplines are isolated from each other and need to be 
integrated when it is meaningful and good to do so (Ediger, 2002, 
602- 605). 

Required literature courses can be a valuable tool to use in 
integrating the science curriculum. What is learned in a 
university literature course may well transfer to integrating 
science writings into the public school curriculum for pupils. A 
fictional story may follow the following model: 

1. identification of characterization (characters) in the 
literary selection. 

2. indicating the setting or location place of the story. 

3. state or infer the plot of what happened in the story. 

4. contain theme or repeating messages contained in the 
story. 

5. possess a point of view of who is telling the story. 

There are a plethora of excellent science fiction stories for 
pupils to read and these writings might well become a part of an 
ongoing science unit. Science fiction are narrative accounts of 
something that, perhaps, did occur in real life or they may be 
highly imaginary. In addition to narrative accounts in literature, 
expository writing can well be integrated into a purposeful 
science unit of study. The following are examples of expository 
writings for pupils: 

1. biographies and autobiographies of famous scientists. 

2. library books with an accurate description of how rocks 
are formed, for example. Accompanying audio tapes can assist a 
slow reader to comprehend more difficult library books as he/she 
follows along in the text. 

3. large, illustrated, picture books for young readers, such 
as a book on whales. 

4. science paper backs on the same title or topic whereby 
a seminar approach may be used in discussing its contents. 

5. supplementary science textbooks which present 
content on similar topics as contained in the basal used in 
class. Comparisons may then be made from one source to the 
next. Reading activities must be related directly to a hands on 
approach in learning science concepts and generalizations (See 
Gunning, 2000, Chapter Eight). 

Additional courses to take online might well involve written 
communication. Writing skills cut across all academic areas. It is 
very important for science educators to write clearly and 

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accurately since communication of ideas among pupils and the 
science teacher is salient. Diverse purposes include writing 

1. conclusions and summaries of science experimentation. 

2. sequential steps inherent in doing an ongoing 
experiment/ or demonstration. 

3. an historical study and written paper on leading early 
scientists such as Galileo, William Harvey, Capernicus, 

Johaness Kepler, Charles Darwin, George Washington Carver, 
Robert Hook, Anton Leuvenhook, Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister, 
among others. 

4. an outline of salient content as will be given in an oral 
report to the class. 

5. journal writing in conveying that which has been learned 
in a given lesson in science (Ediger and Rao, 2000, Chapter Five). 

Speaking skills will need to be developed in a public 
speaking class on campus . Goals to achieve here include 

1. using words accurately to convey information. 

2. speaking with confidence and ease in order to focus on 
science subject matter being presented. 

3. presenting ideas sequentially to listeners. 

4. working effectively in oral committee decision making 
settings. 

5. emphasizing diverse purposes in oral communication. 

Speaking activities are integrated within the different 
curriculum areas. It cuts across all academic disciplines. 

Science education students need to be able to convey scientific 
information to others in an effective way (See Simpllico, 2002). 

Reading courses may be taken online as well as in the 
university classroom. Much reading is done by university 
students and science teachers need to be proficient readers as 
well as be knowledgeable about teaching reading to public 
school pupils. Thus, the future science teacher needs to assist 
public school pupils to 

1. use phonics and syllabication skills to unlock unknown 
words. 

2. read for meaning and understanding. 

3. comprehend subject matter critically and creatively. 

4. read to solve problems such as when science 
experiments are being conducted. 

5. read science content for indepth study. 

Reading then can be a very important way to learn in the 

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science curriculum along with a hands on approach. The 
science teacher must be able to diagnose pupil difficulties in 
reading so that remediation can take place (Ediger, Marlow, and 
D. Bhaskara Rao, 2000). 

Needless to say, the future science teacher needs to have 
demanding, well taught courses, among other areas of science, 
in biology, genetics, chemistry, physics, and geology. These 
courses must provide teachers with science subject matter to 
teach well in the public schools. It is of utmost importance that 
teachers possess adequate subject matter to do a superb job of 
teaching science. Field experiences and student teaching in the 
public schools should truly indicate excellence in total 
performance. Continual plans for inservice education must be in 
the offing (Blough, and Schwartz, 1984)1 

Criteria for Online Courses 

There are selected criteria which need to be followed in 
order to offer effective online courses. Principles of learning from 
educational psychology need to be followed here. 

1. science subject matter and methods need to be relevant 
and salient. 

2. courses in science education must assist the future 
teacher to be prepared to teach public school pupils well. 

3. purpose needs to be involved in choosing content and 
skills presented for the future science teacher to acquire. 

4. interest factors are important in online education. 

5. sequence in student learning online needs careful 
consideration. 

6. meaningful learnings need to accrue for the university 
student. 

7. students should become motivated learners. 

8. life long learning should be an end objective in online 
education. 

9. the development of professionalism in teaching is vital in 
science education course work. 

10. the student needs to design a quality science curriculum 
(Ediger, 1995, 1- 2). 



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References 



Blough, Glenn 0., and Julius Schwartz (1984), Elementary 
School Science and How to Teach It. New York: Holt, Rinehart 

and Winston, Chapter One. 

Ediger, Marlow, and D. Bhaskara Rao (2001), Teaching 
Science Successfully. New Delhi, India: Discovery Publishing 
House, Chapter Two. 

Ediger, Marlow (2000), Teaching Science in the Elementary 
School. Kirksville, Missouri: Simpson Publishing Company, 
Chapter One. 

Ediger, Marlow (2002), “The Supervisor of the School,” 
Education, 122 (3), 602- 604. 

Ediger, Marlow, and D. Bhaskara Rao (2000), Teaching 
Reading Successfully. New Delhi, India: Discovery Publishing 
House, Chapter Five. 

Ediger, Marlow, and D. Bhaskara Rao (2000), Teaching 
Mathematics Successfully. New Delhi, India: Discovery 
Publishing House, Chapter Seventeen. 

Ediger, Marlow (1995), “Philosophy of Teaching Science,” 
School Science, 32 (3), 1-2. 

Education Week, Technology Counts E- Defining Education, 
21 (35), Marion, Ohio. 

Gunning, Thomas (2000), Creating Literacy for All Children. 
Needham Heights, Massachusetts: Allyn and Bacon, Chapter 
Eight. 

Simpllico, Joseph (2002), “Miscommunication in the 
Classroom: What Teachers Say and What Students Really Hear,” 
Education, 122 (3), 599- 601, 478. 



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