Addressing Science-Religion Relationships in Science Teacher Education

Focus and Relevance to STE
The proposed two-hour workshop will assist our fellow science teacher educators in preparing teachers to responsibly address science topics that frequently have religious implications for students and their associated communities. These topics include biological evolution, geochronology, and climate change. As a whole group, we will briefly discuss why science-religion relationships are part of our professional responsibilities vis-à-vis history and nature of science, inquiry-based instruction, and state and national science education standards, including the Next Generation Science Standards. Next, we will separate into smaller groups to present and discuss materials for (a) legal issues related to science and religion in public school classrooms, (b) strategies for specific grade levels as well as informal science education settings such as museums, and (c) specific activities that can be done as part of science teacher preparation programs.

Intended Audience
Science teacher educators are the primary intended audience. All science educators, however, will likely have an interest in this topic and will be encouraged to participate.

Expertise and Experience of Presenters
The presenters have been involved with science-religion issues in different capacities for many years: ASTE and NSTA presentations, JSTE publications, pre-service science teacher preparation programs, and outreach to religious communities and to the general public. Four of the presenters authored the following JSTE article:
Shane, J.W., Binns, I.C., Meadows, L., Hermann, R.S. & Benus, M.J. (2016). Beyond evolution: Addressing broad interactions between science and religion in science teacher preparation. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 27, 165-181.

Most recently, they submitted a book proposal to NSTA Press and much of the material for the proposed workshop is derived from this work. The forthcoming book will be submitted to NSTA Press in the summer of 2018.

Learning Objectives and Assessment
• To understand the consistency between science-religion relationships with our professional responsibilities as science teacher educators.
• To understand a framework to guide how science-religion relationships can be addressed in a legal manner in public school classrooms.
• To discuss specific lessons and other activities related to science and religion that can be done with pre- and in-service science teachers as part of preparation programs.
• To discuss activities to address science-religion relationships as part of campus and community outreach efforts.

With respect to assessment and as is mentioned in the next section, we will ask the participants to complete a brief, diagnostic survey (Likert-scale and open-ended responses) at the beginning of the workshop about their previous experiences with and interest in science-religion interactions. At the end of the workshop, we will administer a similar survey to assess the effectiveness of the workshop and to solicit ideas for future efforts within ASTE and STE in general.

Workshop Activities and Instructional Strategies
The following outline describes the sequence of the proposed two-hour workshop:
1. Whole-group discussion about science-religion relationships within the context of our professional responsibilities as science teacher educators (approximately 30 minutes):
a. History and Nature of Science (HOS/NOS).
b. Inquiry-based instruction.
c. Science education standards:
i. 2020 NSTA Standards for Science Teacher Preparation.
ii. Next Generation Science Standards.
iii. Selected state-level science education standards.
d. Diagnostic survey about participants’ background, interests, and experiences with science-religion interactions.
2. Small-group breakout discussions and activities led by workshop presenters (approximately 60 minutes):
a. Legal considerations for addressing science-religion relationships in public school classrooms.
b. Science-religion activities for pre- and in-service elementary teachers of science.
c. Science-religion activities for pre- and in-service science teachers at middle and high school levels.
d. Science-religion activities in informal science education settings.
e. Science-religion activities as part of outreach on college and university campuses as well as within local communities.
3. Workshop participants report back to group about ideas from small-group discussions (approximately 30 minutes).
4. Completion of survey about workshop’s effectiveness and suggestions for future work within ASTE and STE regarding science-religion interactions.

Availability of Continued Support and Collaboration
Each presenter will provide contact information as well as particular areas of expertise with respect to science-religion relationships in science teacher education. Workshop participants may contact presenters as they see fit. If sufficient interest is generated during the workshop, subsequent workshops or presentations will be arranged for future international and regional ASTE meetings to review the efficacy of aforementioned activities.