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Black & white or shades of grey: teachers' perspectives on the role of nature of science in compulsory school science teaching
Kristianstad University, Research environment Learning in Science and Mathematics (LISMA). Kristianstad University, School of Education and Environment, Avdelningen för Naturvetenskap. (LISMA)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8255-3607
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The thesis explores teachers’ perspectives and negotiations on the role of “Nature of Science” (NOS) in compulsory school science teaching. Previous research has described school science teaching as having a strong focus on science concepts, and structured lab-work with an implicit focus on finding correct answers. In such teaching, there is little room for the individuals and contexts involved in the knowledge production. This description of science and science teaching is referred to as “black and white” in this thesis. Science Education research has proposed that by broadening the images of science, more students might identify with science and that desired scientific literacy outcomes could easier be achieved. One suggestion from Science Education research has been to include NOS in science teaching. Including NOS in everyday science teaching means that tensions are created in relation to already existing traditions. Here, teachers become an important factor as they are deeply entangled in the middle of policies, traditions, and discourses that surround science and school science. Methods used for exploring the teachers’ perspectives were: questionnaires, interviews, and focus group discussions. In particular, negotiations in the focus groups, over the three years, contributed to illuminating perspectives and tensions. A theoretical framework consisting of five comprehensive NOS themes was developed. This framework guided the contents of the focus groups as well as parts of the analyses. The thesis includes four articles, each with its own specific aim and research questions. The main results from these articles are summarized and discussed in relation to policies and traditions that surround science education. The results show that the NOS practice that the teachers constructed through their negotiations: a) aims for a broad rather than deep NOS understanding (i.e. including many NOS issues, but avoiding philosophical depth), b) is contextualized within lab-work practices or communicative activities, and c) aims to develop student engagement and reaching other curricular goals than learning science concepts. This construction of NOS practice results in strong tensions in relation to traditional science teaching, which means that teachers’ and students’ roles are challenged. However, NOS becomes a means in the work of expanding lab-work practice, as well as a catalyst in the formation of science teaching practice directed towards communication (e.g. reflections on science in relation to society, both from perspectives within and outside science). The resistance between NOS and the teaching of science concepts means that they become parts of different practices. As a consequence, students encounter different images of science that are seldom compared or negotiated. A suggestion for science education is to create structures for balancing or merging parallel practices as a way to ease tensions and expand the concepts-based practice.

Abstract [sv]

Avhandlingen utforskar lärares perspektiv och förhandlingar gällande vilken roll “naturvetenskapens karaktär” (engelska ”nature of science”, NOS) kan spela i grundskolans NO-undervisning. Tidigare forskning har visat att NO-undervisning ofta har ett starkt fokus på naturvetenskapliga begrepp och strukturerade laborationer med ett implicit fokus på ”korrekta svar”. I den sortens undervisning ges sällan en bild av de människor och kontexter som är av betydelse för naturvetenskaplig kunskapsproduktion. I avhandlingen diskuteras den här beskrivningen av naturvetenskap och NO-undervisning som “svart-vit”. Inom ramen för forskning om naturvetenskapernas didaktik har förslag lagts fram som handlar om att bredda bilden av naturvetenskap. En sådan breddning skulle kunna medföra att fler elever kan identifiera sig med naturvetenskap och att mål som handlar om naturvetenskaplig literacitet (scientific literacy) lättare skulle kunna nås. I linje med dessa mål, har forskningen föreslagit att NOS inkluderas i NO-undervisningen. Att inkludera NOS i NO-undervisningen innebär att det skapas spänningar i förhållande till rådande undervisningstraditioner. Här blir lärare en viktig faktor eftersom de befinner sig i gränslandet mellan naturvetenskap och undervisning om densamma. I detta gränsland får policy, styrdokument och traditioner betydelse för vilken undervisningspraktik som blir möjlig. Avhandlingens metoder för att utforska lärarnas perspektiv är: enkäter, intervjuer och fokusgruppdiskussioner. Fokusgruppdiskussionerna, som var återkommande under tre år, är särskilt viktiga för att belysa olika perspektiv och spänningar. Ett teoretiskt ramverk som består av fem övergripande NOS-teman utvecklades och användes som en guide för fokusgrupperna och delar av analysen. Avhandlingen inkluderar fyra artiklar, med egna syften och specifika forskningsfrågor. Huvudresultaten från dessa artiklar sammanfattas och diskuteras i relation till policy och traditioner som omger NO-undervisning. Resultaten visar att den NOS-praktik som konstrueras genom lärarnas förhandlingar: a) syftar till en bred snarare än djup NOS-förståelse (d.v.s. inkluderar många NOS-områden, men undviker filosofiskt djup), b) är kontextualiserad och integrerad i laborations- eller kommunikationspraktiker, och c) syftar till att utveckla elevers intresse och engagemang samt att nå kunskapsmål som går utöver lärandet av naturvetenskapliga begrepp. Den här konstruktionen av NOS-praktik resulterar i starka spänningar i relation till traditionell NO-undervisning (t.ex. undervisning av begrepp och modeller), vilket i sin tur innebär att lärar- och elevroller utmanas. Däremot, blir NOS ett medel i arbetet med att utvidga laborationspraktiken och en katalysator i formandet av en kommunikationspraktik (t.ex. att reflektera kring naturvetenskap och dess relation till samhället både från ett inom- och utomvetenskapligt perspektiv). Motståndet mellan undervisningen av NOS och naturvetenskapliga begrepp medför att dessa inte integreras utan blir delar i formandet av parallella praktiker. Som En följd av denna uppdelning får eleverna möta olika bilder av naturvetenskap som sällan jämförs eller förhandlas. Ett förslag för framtida forskning och lärarutbildning är att skapa strukturer för att sammanfoga parallella praktiker som ett led i att minska spänningar och utvidga den begrepps-fokuserade traditionen.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Malmö: Holmbergs , 2017.
Series
Malmö Studies in Educational Sciences, ISSN 1651-4513 ; 78
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-17136DOI: 10.24834/2043/22322ISBN: 9789171047625 (print)ISBN: 9789171047632 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hkr-17136DiVA: diva2:1136524
Public defence
2017-09-08, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-08-29 Created: 2017-08-28 Last updated: 2017-09-05
List of papers
1. Teaching nature of science in school year 4-9: teachers’ perspectives
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teaching nature of science in school year 4-9: teachers’ perspectives
2015 (English)Conference paper, Poster (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Nature of science (NOS) has for a long time, and for a number of reasons been regarded a key ingredient in the teaching for scientific literacy. Much has been written about teachers’ views of NOS and how NOS is taught in the science classroom, but little is known about teachers’ views of the teaching of NOS. To be able to better understand how NOS becomes (or does not become) a part of science education, teachers’ ways of making meaning of NOS teaching needs to be investigated. Therefore, in this project, we try to shed light on teachers’ perspectives on NOS teaching at different levels in compulsory school. We also explore how the teaching of NOS is planned for, and implemented, throughout a three-year research project. The participants are Swedish in-service science teachers (n=12) in grades 3-9. They are teachers who, initially, have no specific training in NOS or NOS teaching (something they have in common with most science teachers in Sweden), but expected to teach NOS according to the national curriculum. During the project the teachers meet in focus groups, guided by a researcher, and discuss NOS and the teaching of NOS. Sources of data are questionnaires, interviews, focus-group discussions and classroom observations. The analytical framework used in this study is an elaboration of the NOS tenets in Lederman (2007) from an interdisciplinary Science Studies perspective. The results from the first part of the study indicate that although the teachers have access to different ways of speaking about NOS their ways of speaking become less elaborated in reference to NOS teaching. The teachers discuss both possible pros (e.g. student motivation, and NOS as a counterpart to the image of science as “black-and-white”) and cons (e.g. “good students” will be disadvantaged and difficulties for students to handle abstract topics.

National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-14951 (URN)
Conference
The 11th Conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA), Helsinki, August 31 - September 4, 2015
Available from: 2015-10-19 Created: 2015-10-19 Last updated: 2017-08-28Bibliographically approved
2. From black & white to shades of grey: teachers’ ways of making meaning of NOS teaching
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From black & white to shades of grey: teachers’ ways of making meaning of NOS teaching
2017 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Traditional science teaching often has a focus on ready-made facts. Including nature of science (NOS) in science teaching has been discussed as a way to broaden the images of science. However, there is a gap between research on NOS teaching and practice. As teachers are important keys to what takes place in the classroom this study has focused on their perspectives and ways of making meaning of NOS as an element of science teaching. Six science teachers took part in a longitudinal study on NOS and NOS teaching that spanned three years. The data consists of questionnaires, interviews, classroom observations, and focus-group discussions. The main data source is the recorded and transcribed focus-group discussions from all three years (N=12). A qualitative content analysis was performed and teachers’ perspectives were interpreted through the theoretical frameworks of scientific literacy and science teaching traditions. The results show that teachers talked about NOS teaching as something new that differed from their traditional teaching of “facts and lab-work”. However, they often welcomed NOS teaching as a way to challenge stereotypical, black-and-white images of science, as well as a means to reach overarching goals of science education such as developing students’ abilities for critical thinking.

National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-17133 (URN)
Conference
12th Conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA), Dublin 2017
Available from: 2017-08-28 Created: 2017-08-28 Last updated: 2017-09-04Bibliographically approved
3. Nature of science progression in school year 1-9: an analysis of the Swedish curriculum and teachers’ suggestions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Nature of science progression in school year 1-9: an analysis of the Swedish curriculum and teachers’ suggestions
2015 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Science education research on nature of science (NOS) has mostly focused students’ and teachers’ views of NOS, while less attention has been paid to the appropriateness of various NOS aspects at different levels in the educational system. Even more scarce is research focusing teachers’ perspectives on these matters. The aim of this study is to: 1) analyze NOS progression in the Swedish national curriculum, and 2) investigate science teachers’ perspectives on a NOS progression for year 1-9. Participants in the study are Swedish in-service science teachers (grades 1-9) who took part in a three-year research-project focusing NOS teaching. Throughout the project the teachers met in focus-group discussions. They also planned and implemented NOS lessons in their classrooms. Sources of data are: 1) curriculum material, and 2) two focus groups meetings about NOS progression (recorded and transcribed). The results show that many NOS aspects are, at least implicitly, part of the Swedish curriculum, but no specific progression is described. The teachers’ suggestions for NOS progression are based on arguments concerning the level of abstractness. Theoretical approaches and unfamiliar contexts are considered abstract, while hands-on activities, everyday contexts, and historical cases are considered concrete approaches to NOS.

Keyword
Nature of science, curriculum, NOS progression, teachers
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-14481 (URN)
Conference
IHPST 13th Biennial International Conference, Rio de Janeiro, July 22-25, 2015.
Available from: 2015-08-21 Created: 2015-08-21 Last updated: 2017-08-28Bibliographically approved
4. Nature of science progression in school year 1–9: a case study of teachers’ suggestions and rationales
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Nature of science progression in school year 1–9: a case study of teachers’ suggestions and rationales
2017 (English)In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

The inclusion of nature of science (NOS) in science education has for a long  time been regarded as crucial. There is, however, a lack of research on appropriate NOS aspects for different educational levels. An even more neglected area of research is that focusing on teachers’ perspectives on NOS teaching at different levels. The aim of this article is to examine NOS progression in the light of teachers’ suggestions and rationales. In order to obtain teachers’ informed perspectives, we chose to involve six teachers (teaching grades 1–9) in a 3-year research project. They took part in focus group discussions about NOS and NOS teaching as well as implemented jointly planned NOS teaching sessions. Data that this article builds on was collected at the end of the project. The teachers’ suggestions for NOS progression often relied on adding more NOS issues at every stage, thereby creating the foundations of a broader but not necessarily deeper understanding of NOS. Five rationales, for if/when specific NOS issues are appropriate to introduce, emerged from the analysis of the teacher discussions. Some of these rationales, including practice makes perfect and increasing levels of depth can potentially accommodate room for many NOS issues in the science classroom, while maturity and experience instead has a restricting effect on NOS teaching. Also, choice of context and teaching approaches play an important role in teachers’ rationales for whether specific NOS issues  should be included or not at different stages. The article discusses the implications for teacher education and professional development.

Keyword
Nature of science, NOS progression, NOS teaching, Teachers’ perspectives
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-17073 (URN)10.1007/s11165-017-9628-0 (DOI)
Available from: 2017-08-10 Created: 2017-08-10 Last updated: 2017-08-28Bibliographically approved
5. Context-rich vs. context-stripped approach to NOS teaching: teachers’ reflections
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Context-rich vs. context-stripped approach to NOS teaching: teachers’ reflections
2015 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The inclusion of nature of science (NOS) in science education, has for a long time been regarded a crucial component in the teaching for scientific literacy. Much has been written about teachers’ views of NOS and how NOS is taught in the science classroom, but less is known about the teachers’ views of the teaching of NOS. To be able to better understand how NOS becomes (or does not become) a part of science education, teachers’ views of the teaching of NOS needs to be investigated. Therefore, in this project, we aim to shed light on teachers’ ways of coping with two different approaches to NOS teaching – contextualized and decontextualized. We explore how the teaching of NOS is planned for, and communicated in the science classroom, as well as what difficulties and gains the teachers experience with the different approaches. The participants are Swedish in-service science teachers (n=6) in grades 3-9. During the project the teachers meet in focus groups, guided by a researcher, and discuss NOS and the teaching of NOS. Sources of data are audio recorded focus-group discussions and classroom observations. The results indicate that both approaches have benefits. A larger amount and more complex NOS aspects are addressed in the context-rich approach. However, the teachers in this study find the decontextualized task easier to fit within the traditional science-teaching frame.

National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-14950 (URN)
Conference
The 11th Conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA), Helsinki, August 31 - September 4, 2015
Available from: 2015-10-19 Created: 2015-10-19 Last updated: 2017-08-28Bibliographically approved
6. Teachers discussing, planning and implementing NOS-aspects in their teaching
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teachers discussing, planning and implementing NOS-aspects in their teaching
2014 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The inclusion of "nature of science" (NOS) in science education has for a long time been regarded as a crucial component in the teaching for scientific literacy. The aim of this study is to investigate how in-service science teachers plan, implement, and afterwards reflect on a NOS teaching session. The participants in the study are Swedish in-service science teachers (n=4) in grades 4-9. Sources of data are teacher-group discussions (before and after the NOS-session), classroom observations, and teachers’ reflective notes. The analytical framework used in this study is developed with a point of departure in the NOS tenets described by Lederman (2007). The preliminary results indicate that although the teachers in different ways explicitly address many different aspects of NOS during the teaching sessions, and they believe that their students are interested in the provided tasks, the teachers themselves are having a hard time coping with the clash between the implemented NOS-session and more traditional views of science teaching.

National Category
Pedagogical Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-13251 (URN)
Conference
NFSUN-konferensen 2014 I Helsingfors
Available from: 2014-12-01 Created: 2014-12-01 Last updated: 2017-08-28Bibliographically approved
7. Socio-cultural aspects of science in the science classroom: teachers' perspectives
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Socio-cultural aspects of science in the science classroom: teachers' perspectives
2016 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Students' interest in science is declining. Science teaching often have science as facts as its main focus. In such science teaching there is often little room for socio-cultural aspects of science. It has, however, been shown that students could gain more interest in science if broader perspectives are included. Making socio-cultural aspects a topic in the science classroom is considered hard. In order to gain more knowledge about issues related to the implementation of socio-cultural aspects in the science classroom we have focused on teachers' perspectives. In this presentation we will provide results from a three-year research-project. It is a case study of six teachers, teaching science in grades 1-9. During the project the teachers met in focus groups four times a year and discussed different aspects of science. During the focus-group meetings they also planned and reflected on classroom activities with a focus on socio-cultural issues, which they implemented between meetings. Questionnaires, interviews and classroom observations where used in addition to the data collected from the focus groups. The results provide information on teachers' perspectives on appropriate approaches and activities for different years, as well as information about teachers' perspectives on both challenges and benefits from implementing socio-cultural aspects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Flensburg: , 2016
National Category
Pedagogy Natural Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-16367 (URN)
Conference
1st European Regional IHPST Conference, Flensburg, 22-25 August.
Available from: 2016-12-28 Created: 2016-12-28 Last updated: 2017-08-28Bibliographically approved
8. Teachers’ ways of talking about nature of science and its teaching
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teachers’ ways of talking about nature of science and its teaching
2015 (English)In: Science & Education, ISSN 0926-7220, E-ISSN 1573-1901, Vol. 24, no 9, 1141-1172 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Nature of science (NOS) has for a long time been regarded as a key component in science teaching. Much research has focused on students’ and teachers’ views of NOS, while less attention has been paid to teachers’ perspectives on NOS teaching. This article focuses on in-service science teachers’ ways of talking about NOS and NOS teaching, e.g. what they talk about as possible and valuable to address in the science classroom, in Swedish compulsory school. These teachers (N = 12) are, according to the national curriculum, expected to teach NOS, but have no specific NOS training. The analytical framework described in this article consists of five themes that include multiple perspectives on NOS. The results show that teachers have less to say when they talk about NOS teaching than when they talk about NOS in general. This difference is most obvious for issues related to different sociocultural aspects of science. Difficulties in — and advantages of — NOS teaching, as put forth by the teachers, are discussed in relation to traditional science teaching, and in relation to teachers’ perspectives on for which students science teaching will be perceived as meaningful and comprehensible. The results add to understanding teachers’ reasoning when confronted with the idea that NOS should be part of science teaching. This in turn provides useful information that can support the development of NOS courses for teachers.

National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-14952 (URN)10.1007/s11191-015-9782-6 (DOI)000365184900005 ()
Available from: 2015-10-19 Created: 2015-10-19 Last updated: 2017-08-28Bibliographically approved
9. Why, when and how to teach nature of science in compulsory school: teachers’ views
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Why, when and how to teach nature of science in compulsory school: teachers’ views
2013 (English)In: E-Book Proceedings of the ESERA 2013 Conference: Science Education Research For Evidence-based Teaching and Coherence in Learning. Part 6 / [ed] C. P. Constantinou, N. Papadouris & A. Hadjigeorgiou; co-ed. M. Charalambous, Nicosia: European Science Education Research Association , 2013, 60-71 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Nicosia: European Science Education Research Association, 2013
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-11217 (URN)
Conference
10th Conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA), Nicosia, Cyprus, 2-7 September 2013
Available from: 2013-11-07 Created: 2013-11-07 Last updated: 2017-08-28Bibliographically approved

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