Attitudes toward Integration as Perceived by Preservice Teachers Enrolled in an Integrated Mathematics, Science, and Technology Teacher Education Program

Article excerpt

The results of the quantitative analyses indicate that preservice teacher attitudes and perceptions related to the integration of mathematics, science, and technology education were positive upon completion of the program, though less positive than expressed prior to beginning the program.

The mathematics, science, and technology education communities are undergoing major reform in curriculum design, instructional approaches, and assessment practices. National standards for content, professional development, and assessment have been developed for mathematics, science, and technology education in the United States (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1989, 1991, 1995, 2000; National Research Council, 1996; International Technology Education Association, 2000). Although promoting discipline-specific standards, these reform documents also recognize and recommend connections between and among the disciplines.

It is the union of science, mathematics, and technology that forms the scientific endeavor and that makes it so successful. Although each of these human enterprises has a character and history of its own, each is dependent on and reinforces the others. (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993, p. 3)

The science and mathematics are important to the understanding of the processes and meaning of technology. Their integration with the technology education curricula is vital. (Johnson, 1989, p. 3)

Given the nature of the reform efforts, along with national goals for student achievement in mathematics and science, there is no doubt that we are in a new era where educators in mathematics, science, and technology must find ways to join forces to meet the curricular challenge before them. The consistent message heard across the disciplines emphasizes the need to collaborate, integrate, focus on literacy, facilitate inquiry and problem solving, and provide educational experiences that are of value to all students regardless of background or aspirations. To enable teachers to provide an integrated teaching and learning environment, changes in teacher preparation are essential.

Various attempts have been made to integrate science and mathematics methods courses in teacher education programs (Foss & Pinchback, 1998; Haigh & Rehfeld, 1995; Huntley, 1999; Lonning & DeFranco, 1994; Lonning, DeFranco, & Weinland, 1998; Miller, Metheny, & Davison, 1997; Stuessy, 1993; Stuessy & Naizer, 1996; Watanabe & Huntley, 1998). These courses most often have been targeted at the preparation of preservice elementary or middle school teachers. Very few integrated science and mathematics methods courses have been designed for preservice secondary school teachers (see, for example, Austin, Converse, Sass, & Tomlins, 1992).

Inservice professional development opportunities generally have been designed for practicing teachers to develop integrated science and mathematics activities/units (Francis & Underhill, 1996; Slater, Coltharp, & Scott, 1998; Underhill, Abdi, & Peters, 1994) or to use specific integrated science and mathematics curriculum materials such as Activities Integrating Math and Science (AIMS; Deal, 1994; Nye & Thigpin, 1993) and Teaching Integrated Mathematics and Science (TIMS; Goldberg & Wagreich, 1991; Isaacs, Wagreich, & Gartzman, 1997). A few inservice professional development opportunities integrate technology education, along with science and mathematics education (James, Lamb, Householder, & Bailey, 2000; LaPorte & Sanders, 1993; Meier, Cobbs, & Nicol, 1998; Scarborough, 1993a, 1993b;Wicklein & Schell, 1995).

The literature associated with teacher preparation and integrated science, mathematics, and technology education is laden with obstacles or barriers including philosophical and epistemological differences among the disciplines, teacher content and pedagogical content knowledge in the disciplines, teacher perceptions and beliefs, school and administrative structures, assessment practices, and appropriate instructional resources (Czerniak, Weber, Jr. …