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Teaching nature of science in school year 4-9: teachers’ perspectives
Kristianstad University, School of Education and Environment, Avdelningen för Naturvetenskap. Kristianstad University, Research environment Learning in Science and Mathematics (LISMA). (LISMA)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8255-3607
2015 (English)Conference paper, Poster (with or without abstract) (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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015.
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-14951OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hkr-14951DiVA: diva2:861950
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
In thesis
1. Black & white or shades of grey: teachers' perspectives on the role of nature of science in compulsory school science teaching
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Black & white or shades of grey: teachers' perspectives on the role of nature of science in compulsory school science teaching
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:nbn:se:hkr:diva-17136 (URN)10.24834/2043/22322 (DOI)9789171047625 (ISBN)9789171047632 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-09-08, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-08-29 Created: 2017-08-28 Last updated: 2017-09-05

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