Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Integrating Climate Change for Elementary Pre-Service Teachers: Tales from the Field




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



To meet current standards of accountability, novice teachers must have a solid understanding of more than one STEM discipline, integrate topics, and employ cutting edge use of pedagogy. In 2008, Michigan began requiring all pre-service elementary teachers complete a two-course sequence focused on Earth science, life science, chemistry, and physics. In response, GVSU combined Earth and life science content, resulting in a one-semester, inquiry-based integrated science course with an interdisciplinary focus on global climate change. Key Earth science concepts include natural and anthropogenic influences of climate change and the evidence and impacts. Key life science concepts include biomes, biodiversity, evolution, ecosystems, and phenology. We also explicitly teach nature of science and science process skills. While our students leave the course understanding more about global climate change and science in general, several challenges remain: (1) some students dislike switching between two professors throughout the semester; (2) some students experience a substitute teacher phenomena; (3) logistical difficulties result from working with up to five instructors each semester; (4) faculty work as if there is a new preparation for this course each semester and (5) students resist quantitative elements of science. Despite these barriers, we believe that the course has important strengths including its integration of topics, focus on inquiry, explicit teaching of nature of science, and collaboration between science departments. Our experience, and data collected, suggests our approach could be used as a model for institutions interested in applying a collaborative, team-teaching, and integrated approach to science course development for pre-service teachers.

Conference Name

Geological Society of America

Conference Location

Minneaplois, MN

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