A major concern for many educators is the issue of teacher readiness to teach in specific content areas. In science education where teachers may be teaching out of field (particularly in the lower high school grades) or grappling with complex concepts in which their own misconceptions may be perpetuated and transferred to their students, this is of particular concern. Building Foundations was developed as an online content knowledge support designed to help teachers first identify science concepts addressed in the Foundation Science curricula in which their knowledge base needs strengthening and then to deepen their understanding of these concepts with targeted resources.
A knowledge inventory consisting of specific questions about concepts in the discipline can help teachers recognize where they need particular content support. For example, teachers preparing to teach plate tectonics might want check their understanding of concepts related to this topic. Using Building Foundations, teachers could search for Earth Science and then Plate Tectonics, at which point they would arrive at a series of questions related to specific concepts in plate tectonics including convection, volcanoes, subduction zones, and Earth’s interior. They would then do a self-check on their understanding of the content of each question. If teachers perceived a weakness or lack of confidence in the content, clicking on the question would take them to resources that elaborate on the content of the question in detail through readings, simulations, videos and scientist-developed PowerPoint presentations.