PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century
Katherine C. Wieseman
F21 Class of 2004 Statement
The PKAL web site indicates that the organization is poised to emphasize certain dimensions of education in order to transform learning in the sciences. These dimensions include:
- leadership for institutional transformation,
- collaboration within a scientific community,
- student learning in the sciences situated in research-rich environments in which the interdisciplinary nature of the sciences is promoted and emerging technologies are productively used, and
- advocacy for STEM learning for all undergraduate students.
As a science teacher educator, a crucial aspect of my vision for transforming learning related to the sciences is to challenge and extend students’ ideas and beliefs about the nature of science. To this end, I endeavor to provide opportunities for students to investigate and experience (1) the essential role of scientific inquiry in the generation of knowledge and (2) the presence of interdisciplinarity in scientific understanding. These dimensions of the nature of science are organizers in the science education courses I teach at Western State College of Colorado [WSC] and my professional development work with classroom teachers. Two of the student populations I teach at WSC are undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students majoring in the sciences and interdisciplinary studies. These students are future teachers in the secondary sciences and at the elementary level.
Advocacy for equitable learning opportunities for all students is another fundamental component of my vision for transformation of learning in the sciences. As a science teacher educator-researcher, I discuss with students the many dimensions of equity (and inequity) in scientific learning. In addition, I attempt to model examples of equity accompanied by expectations of excellence. An assumption underlying the attention I give toward equity issues in my science education courses is that heightening awareness to the complexity of equity issues is the first step toward advocacy of STEM learning for all students of any age.
Unfolding one’s vision is a complex journey: It takes place in micro- and macro-contexts. In my case, the former has been situated within the context of the courses I teach at WSC. The latter has encompassed a discourse community at WSC comprised of students and scientists-science educators, and active membership in two national organizations – the National Association for Research in Science Teaching and the Association for the Education of Teachers of Science. During my six years at WSC I have acquired grant funding to take students to attend and present at conferences of the National Science Teachers Association and the Association for the Education of Teachers of Science. I have collaborated with classroom teachers and several faculty members in sciences and mathematics. For example, with science faculty I designed and taught short term courses which “paired” science and pedagogical content and modeled active learning promoting scientific attitudes. A challenge now is broadening the scope of my collaborations with WSC faculty in the sciences. Membership in the PKAL community at WSC and nationally would offer opportunities for broader-based discussion and collaboration to realize a vision that advances rich understanding of the nature of science and equitable opportunity for learning.