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Biology-Secondary Education

I Do Teach, MK Nature Center, summer research, students, Christen Sapnas, Matt Wigglesworth, Carrie Quinney photo

The Biology/Secondary Education career assists students in developing the knowledge, skills, values, and disposition essential for success in teaching. The option is designed to meet the academic needs of those students intending to teach biology in a public or private junior or senior high school. Reflective teachers adjust their teaching approaches and learning environment to the needs and backgrounds of their students. We believe successful teachers must be committed to acquisition of and continuous renewal of knowledge in their subject area and they must also be committed to the development of a pedagogy conducive to a high level of achievement for all students. Therefore, course work combines content knowledge with the study of curriculum and methodology.

Students preparing for a teaching endorsement in biology may select to major or minor in biology. The Department of Biological Sciences requires 45 credits of Biology, Botany and/or Zoology for a major teaching endorsement or 20 credits for a minor endorsement. In addition, required Biology, Botany and/or Zoology courses may have a chemistry or mathematics pre-requisite. (See curricula below.)

A 1992 Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory survey of Idaho’s secondary schools indicated that the percentage of teachers of biology, chemistry, physics and earth science holding major certification in those subjects were 30, 18, 10, and 8%, respectively. These results suggest that Idaho science teachers are expected to teach in more than one subject field. Therefore, to be competitive in the job market, it is highly recommended that a Biology/Secondary Education major have a minor teaching endorsement in a second field. Those fields chosen most often for minor endorsements are chemistry, earth science, physics, mathematics, and environmental studies. For information on Chemistry, Earth Science, Physics, or Mathematics minor endorsement requirements, you are directed to the respective home pages of each department.

To help Biology/Secondary Education students develop methods useful in converting science content to a teachable hands-on format, science and environmental education workshops for pre-service and in-service teachers are offered throughout the year.

Students preparing to become secondary school teachers must apply and be accepted for admission to secondary teacher education. Admission to secondary education is required before a student may enroll in any upper-division teacher education course, and all admission requirements must be completed before admission will be granted. Applications are made through the Office of Teacher Education Advising. Each secondary education student must be reviewed and approved by the Teacher Education Professional Standards Committee, and must maintain approval throughout the program. Committee approval is based on the student’s academic record (a minimum GPA of 2.5 in biology is required) and skills, behavioral characteristics, and dispositions necessary for success as a teacher. A further description and discussion may be found in the Secondary Education Student Handbook and in the Code of Ethics of the Idaho Teaching Profession.

Students with previously earned degrees in biology may develop individualized programs for endorsement. The programs must be approved by the Biology and Teacher Education Departments and may include graduate courses applicable to a master’s degree. Within the Department of Biological Sciences, Drs. Serpe & Long serve as academic advisors to most Biology/Secondary Education students. These advisors have information concerning certification requirements and endorsements for Idaho residents.

A TIP: Secondary schools often look for individuals who not only can teach coursework in their major field, but can also fulfill other roles such as athletic coach, debate coach, etc. It is therefore a good idea to strengthen coursework in those extracurricular fields (there is, for example, an athletic coaching endorsement within the Kinesiology Dept.) and to gain experience (for example, by volunteering to help a debate team at a local school)