Who Trains the Trainer? An Investigation of the Preparation of Science Teacher Educators
The quality of science education in the United States has been progressively declining as shown through standardized test scores and postsecondary science degrees. K-12 science education relies on qualified science teachers. Although education policy has driven reform, such as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), to combat this trend, these efforts must transfer from the page to everyday practice. While the development of science teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge is influenced by many factors, one common denominator among teachers is their preparation in teacher education programs (TEP). Therefore, knowledge and introduction of new standards like NGSS can be established in TEPs by science teacher educators (STE). However, this relies on STEs keeping abreast of new standards.In the current dissertation, approximately 295 STEs across western states in the United States were surveyed regarding their own background and their knowledge of NGSS. Findings indicated no significant associations between STEs’ demographics and their survey responses. The overall findings support that STEs are not yet familiar with NGSS and that no specific background or institutional attributes predicted STEs' understanding of NGSS. This lack of mastery regarding NGSS by STEs makes it harder for NGSS to be incorporated by their pupils, the next generation of science teachers. Therefore, STEs need greater institutional and government support regarding introduction of new standards and ongoing development of policy. These supports would allow STEs to stay abreast of policy reforms, the introduction of new standards, and innovations in instructional practices. This could include a focus on STEs in policy development and implementation efforts, on-going professional development (PD), and coaching to support and facilitate STEs’ professional growth.