4. Using TESSA materials in teacher education programmes

TESSA materials are appropriate for pre-service, in-service and upgrading programmes at a variety of levels and for teachers who want to develop their existing skills or acquire new ones. The materials are designed so that teacher educators working in different contexts (universities, colleges, regions and districts) can use them in a variety of situations and programmes.

Purpose of the TESSA materials

The purpose of TESSA materials is to enhance teacher education curricula and provide teacher development activities. Although TESSA is not an entire curriculum for a teacher education programme, science teacher educators will be able to find examples of how to exemplify each of the pedagogical themes in their specialist subject.

Finding resources

The materials support:

  • subject methodology
  • professional studies
  • teaching practice

For the topics that are covered, some of the resources will be helpful to pre-service teachers or practising teachers who need to update or extend their subject knowledge. In fact, we have evidence that teacher educators in some institutions are using the units with teachers in their science subject teaching. In this way, they can teach science and, at the same time, model participatory pedagogy.

All of the units contain some resources to support particular teaching approaches. The table below will help you to find these materials. All of these resources have been designed to apply to any curriculum topic, physics, chemistry or biology, and could be used to support your teaching of methodology.

Each theme has a generic resource.

Table 2: Where to find resources to support the five pedagogical themes
Pedagogical themesWhere to find the supporting resource
Probing understanding through questioningC1, resource 1; B1, resource 4; P1 resource 1
Practical workC2, resource 6; B2, resource 1; P2, resource 2
Making science relevantC3, resource 1; B1 resource 1; P1, resource 1
Problem solving and creativityC4, resource 1; B4, resource 1; P4, resource 1
Using models in scienceC5, resource 3; B5 resource 6

There are a number of other generic teaching resources which could be useful, whichever topic is being taught. For example, a chemistry teacher will find the resource on student writing useful, even though it is in a physics unit, and all teachers will find some useful ideas on revision in unit C5.

Table 3: Where to find generic resources to support participatory teaching techniques
Teaching approach/techniqueExamples from the TESSA Teaching Lower Secondary Science Units
DemonstrationsC1 Activity 2 and resource 5 will help you think about organising any demonstration.
BrainstormingB1, resource 1; C3, resource 3; P3, resource 2
Peer assessmentB1, resource 3; B5, resource 5; C5, resource 4
Students’ writingP1, resource 5; B2, resource 3
Differentiating workP2, resource 1; C4, resource 2; B4, resource 4
Risk assessmentC2, resource 2
Science investigationsB2, resource 5; C3, resource 5; P3, resources 5 and 6
Cross curricula links and literacyP4, resource 2
MisconceptionsC5, resource 1; P5, resource 1
Revision toolsC5, resource 5

Ways to use the TESSA materials

The TESSA project has been running since 2005. The materials are being used in many different ways. In some institutions they have been incorporated in to the curriculum, so that all pre-service teachers use the units; in some institutions, pre-service teachers are given access to the materials and have opportunity to select what they use for themselves. These are categorised here:

Table 4: Different types of use of TESSA materials
Form of use of TESSA materials Highly structuredLoosely structured Guided use
CharacteristicsSelection of a set of TESSA activities for all pre-service teachers to carry outLecturers select appropriate TESSA activities for their own course Designated time for pre-service teachers to select TESSA activities
Teacher access to TESSA materials New teacher books which include several TESSA sections Website and printed TESSA sections Website or CDs
ExampleNational Teachers’ Institute (NTI) (Nigeria); Open University of Sudan (OUS)University of Education, Winneba (UEW) (Ghana); Egerton University (Kenya)University of Pretoria (UoP) (South Africa); Our Lady of Apostles (OLA) College (Ghana)

In the first case study below, programme organisers made time for pre-service teachers to become familiar with the materials, but allowed them to select what they use. In the second case study, the units were incorporated into the printed course materials and assessment tasks.

At Winneba University of Education in Ghana, pre-service students have one afternoon a week in a computer room. There is one computer between two students. Very few of them have access to the internet outside these sessions, but they all have mobile phones, so they can collaborate with each other.

During one session, they were asked to use the TESSA materials to plan an activity to try out with their classmates during a “micro-teaching” session. During the next week, everyone had the opportunity to teach their activity and get feedback from their classmates.

For their next assignment they were asked to devise three activities for teaching one science topic. The tutor gave them a choice of three science topics and purposefully chose ones that did not have a TESSA unit. The tutor was very pleased when the assignments were handed in to see that the student teachers had used many of the ideas from the micro-teaching.

The tutor found that integrating the TESSA materials in to the programme had benefits for her pre-service students.

At a teacher training college in Zambia, pre-service students are given a ‘course guide’ which contains a programme for the year, certain key readings and details of the assessment tasks. The guide for physics students contains copies of the five TESSA teaching lower secondary science physics units as ‘key readings’. One of the assessment tasks asks students to plan a lesson using one of the TESSA activities, to teach the lesson either as part of the micro-teaching programme or on teaching practice and to evaluate the lesson. Another task asks them to design an activity to teach ‘sound’ that would fit into the theme ‘science lived – relevant and real’.

3. A TESSA Teaching Lower Secondary Science Unit

5. Using the materials in your own teaching