Tackling Science Instruction Through “Science Talks” and Service Learning
Many preservice teachers struggle in science courses and foster anxieties regarding science instruction in their future classrooms. Providing time and support for preservice teachers to teach science in an after-school classroom through service learning allows them to build a science learning environment outside the formal school day. In this alternative learning space, student dialogue can enhance learning in science while also improving preservice teachers’ confidence and enthusiasm to teach science. SCI-TALKS, a program that integrates service learning and science methods instruction, fosters a supportive, “safe” environment honoring student and preservice voice through “Science Talks” where students and teachers develop and deepen science understanding collaboratively. Expository teaching strategies compromise students’ abilities to develop scientific literacy and interest in science and also contribute toward the anxiety felt by preservice teachers that they need to be an expert in all science content. Collaborative development of science ideas through discussion and “talk” can lead to better understanding and more positive attitudes about science and science instruction. With the constraints of the formal classroom and the anxiety over science content, community-based service-learning teaching opportunities for early education preservice teachers can support both the development and refinement of inquiry instruction skills.