By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—Dr. Sumreen Asim, assistant professor of education in the areas of elementary science and technology, has received top honors for her presentation at the Clute International Conference on Education (Science Track) held earlier this month in Maui, Hawaii.
Asim’s contribution, “The Expanding Elementary Teacher Candidates’ Beliefs Enrolled in a Technology-Infused Undergraduate Science Methods Course,” received the award for Best Presentation in the elementary education category.
Like everyone else, prospective science teachers bring their own beliefs to the classroom. Some of those beliefs may surprise you.
“On average, 80 percent of the teacher candidates enrolled in E328–Scientific Methods–believe they are not ready to teach science,” Asim said. “According to the getting-to-know-you questionnaire I distribute in the first week of class, they are anxious, nervous, not confident, intimidated, and unsure.”
In order to help these and other prospective teachers become more effective at imparting scientific methods, Asim designed a scientific methods course infused with technology including virtual museums, educational apps for assessment and educational games to supplement science content learning.
“Our teacher candidates are used to using social media such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest,” Asim said. “The students in E328 work on their digital pedagogy using apps such as Flipgrid, Twitter, Plickers, Padlet, and Peardeck.”
Throughout the course, students were required to give feedback in the form of drawings, reflections and observations.
Asim’s presentation was based on data gleaned from the course: The results demonstrated that the use of educational technology had a positive impact on the students’ beliefs.
“[Initially] participants’ beliefs about science instruction were centered on the notions of fun, hands-on, outdoor science instruction,” Asim said. “At the end of the course, participants’ beliefs showed a change to that of learning outdoors as engaging students in scientific knowledge, practice and processes.”
If teacher candidates can embrace a research mindset, they will be better able to assist elementary-level students in STEM fields. And by cultivating a familiarity with readily available or even freeware tech tools for teaching, they are in a better position to overcome the funding deficits that can hamper STEM education in disadvantaged communities.
This is particularly important as a number of studies have identified “leaks” in the STEM pipeline that prevent poor and diverse students from sharing in the opportunities for advancement that science-based fields promise in the emerging economy.
“Redesigning elementary education programs to meet the demand for 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking is vital,” Asim said. “Elementary educators are on the front line, since interest in STEM is already developed by middle school—or not.”
Asim sees the award as a validation of her work in providing an interdisciplinary solution to the multifaceted STEM challenge faced by elementary school teachers.
“Our students enrolled in elementary education are the ones that can turn this around,” Asim said. “The impact that they have on future generations is transformative.”
The Clute Institute was founded in 1985 for the purpose of disseminating the latest academic research on various business and economics-related topics. The scope of our mission has expanded to include many areas of academic knowledge, including science education.
In addition to holding prestigious conferences around the world, the Clute Institute also publishes 19 academic journals, including the Journal of International Education Research and the Journal of Health Sciences.