academics

Dr. Valerie Olness

Val OlnessDr. Valerie Olness
Associate Professor Emerita, Science Education
Augustana College
2001 S Summit Ave
Sioux Falls, SD  57197
Phone:605.274.4720
Toll-Free 800.727.2844 ext. 4809
Fax: 605.274.4718
val.olness@augie.edu

 

Education:

B.A.   University of Minnesota, 1982
PhD. University of Minnesota, 1995

Teaching:

I am particularly concerned with instructing pre-service and in-service elementary teachers, and secondary science teachers, in new ways of looking at science and science teaching as a process, using the Constructivist epistemology, through guided inquiry. It is important to provide students with the opportunity to reflect on biology, the relevance of biology to their lives, and the role of biology in an increasingly technological society. Applicable teaching strategies include:

  • "teaching for conceptual change"
  • discrepant events
  • concept mapping
  • cooperative learning
  • problem-solving
  • Science, Technology, and Society curriculum
  • structured controversy
  • student lab work

 

student lab work

Classes Taught:

 

BIOL 110: Biology and Human Concerns - A study of biology with an emphasis on ecological, genetic, and evolutionary concepts. Topics such as disruption of ecosystems, human population growth, world food and energy shortages, human disease, and genetic engineering will be examined and discussed.

BIOL 200: Life Science - This course concentrates on concepts in life science that are typically included in the elementary and middle school science curriculum. Enrollment limited to students who are prepared to teach in K-8 or special education.

EDUC 301: Elementary Science Methods - This course is designed to help future elementary school teachers gain knowledge, understanding, confidence and skill in the teaching of science from a constructivist perspective. A practicum experience is required.

EDUC 310: Secondary Science Methods - This course is designed to help future secondary science teachers gain knowledge, understanding, confidence and skill in the teaching of science from a constructivist perspective. A practicum experience is required.

MATH 297: Mission Possible Integrating Math, Science, and Technology - This course models constructivist pedagogies whilst stressing the integration of math and science concepts in the preparation of future elementary and middle school teachers using technology.

Workshops and Graduate Classes - In-service teacher workshops/classes to promote constructivist pedagogies and strategies through partnerships with other professionals and agencies (NASA),

Old Classes - Previous Mission Possible Courses.

 

Research/Teaching Methods

I am particularly interested in reflective writing (such as journals and concept maps) as a method of understanding and learning science in K-12 and post-secondary classrooms. I also have an enduring interest in the influence of teacher education programs on teachers' conceptions of the nature of science and science teaching - which includes the effects of the Mentorship program for Augustana pre-service science teachers with the Sioux Falls School District. Curriculum writing has also been an on-going interest such as the FACETS Curriculum Project with the American Chemical Society.

 

children's classroom