This partnership was started in September 2009 between MUN's Faculty of Education, St. Andrew's School and Let's Talk Science and supports the learning of primary/elementary students, teacher candidates, and practicing teachers.
While researching how students connect and integrate theory and practice is not new, this partnership represents an approach to overcome the so-called theory-practice divide where propositional knowledge (knowing that) is learned solely through classroom-based courses and practical knowledge is separately obtained through internships and other practicum experiences.
In this model, a school-university partnership provides the context for examining how primary/elementary teacher candidates' experiences in planning and implementing science learning activities with K-6 students influences the development of their practical wisdom and their awareness of the role of theory (propositional knowledge) in learning to teach. Teacher candidates benefit from supervision and mentoring by course instructors and practicing teachers from the school.
Teacher candidates take part in this experience through Education 3273-Science in the Primary/Elementary Grades. They deliver science experiences to K-6 students at St. Andrew's school once a week for five consecutive weeks for two hours. Grade 4-6 students are targeted in the Fall and K-3 students are targeted in the Winter.
Although the activities are intended to serve as enrichment opportunities, course instructors attempt to align the activities with topics being covered by the classroom teacher. Some of the themes explored so far include Water, Senses, Life Cycles, Magnets, Sound, Weather and Electricity.
As part of their course evaluation, teacher candidates complete guided reflections that focus on their lesson planning and preparation, delivery of the lesson and their overall impression of how the experience has influenced their perceptions of science teaching and learning. Preliminary data from student reflections and surveys indicate a high level of satisfaction with their involvement in the partnership.