Evaluating prospective elementary teachers' understanding of science and mathematics in a model preservice program



Two cohorts of students preparing to become elementary teachers participated in a model program in science and mathematics. These students were compared to other students taking similar courses on their conceptual understandings of science and mathematics, their investigative proficiencies, and their beliefs about effective methods of teaching these subjects. Instruments included newly developed tests of understanding, existing standardized achievement tests, and instruments devised for the evaluation to elicit conceptions of appropriate ways to teach science and mathematics to elementary children. Results from individual courses indicated that students participating in the model program developed more thorough understandings and more reform-minded beliefs related to teaching science and mathematics. Issues associated with the assessment and evaluation of innovative programs in science and mathematics are discussed, and recommendations for teacher preparation are offered.