Date of this Version
The focus of this action research study was on the initial stage in reforming our teacher preparation programs. We designed, conducted, evaluated, and revised the components of our teacher preparation programs that were aimed at providing preservice teachers with the confidence and knowledge needed to meet the needs of youth populations underserved in science education. The conceptual framework of this study predicted that providing preservice teachers with experiences in teaching science to at-risk youth in a nonformal educational setting and that exploring these experiences in a seminar setting will increase the teachers’ confidence and knowledge in regard to teaching science to children from underserved populations. The community-based experience allowed for an experience in which 20 preservice teachers taught in a situation in which at-risk youth were the majority, thus spotlighting their needs in a manner traditionally not experienced by these prospective teachers. A two-phase methodological design (J. Creswell, 1994) was utilized to answer the questions: (a) Did the plan lead to the desired outcomes? and (b) What strategies fostered or hindered progress toward the desired outcomes? The findings of this study were utilized to develop our next action step in preparing teachers to foster science literacy for All Americans.