Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 1, Issue 1, Article 1 (July, 2000)
Teaching about Science Teaching and Learning:research should inform practice
Beginning to Teach Science
It is perhaps appropriate to conclude this paper by considering some of the outcomes of science teacher education programs that appear to 'live on' in science teachers once they have completed their qualification.
In recent times there has been a trend for science teacher educators to examine in detail their student-teachers' learning about teaching both during their pre-service teacher education program and into their initial years of teaching. Skamp (1995) was concerned that some of the 'myths' about teacher education and its lack of influence on student-teachers' learning and practice needed to be examined rather than perpetuated. He found that through enrolment in university science and technology units, (elementary) student- teachers' conceptions about science were influenced by the nature of the course work and their practicum experiences. This was important to Skamp because it demonstrated that pre-service programs can be influential in the development of student-teachers' conceptions of science. Clearly, he would hope that this would similarly be translated into their practice when teaching full-time.
In a longitudinal study of (secondary) pre-service science teachers during their first five years of full-time teaching it became apparent that for many science teachers, it took 3 years or more for them to settle into teaching before they began to re-explore the approaches to science teaching and learning that they had developed (and perhaps idealised) in their teacher education program (Loughran, 1992; 1994; 1996). This was largely due to the lack of time and support available to them in schools, and the slow development of confidence and perceived competence necessary to encourage them to feel comfortable in teaching 'against the grain' and to build a science teaching and learning environment that they could both manage and sustain.
It is also encouraging to see our teachers involved in professional development projects such as the PEEL project (Baird and Mitchell, 1986; Baird and Northfield, 1992) which focus on metacognition and active learning. Projects such as PEEL offer teachers opportunities to challenge the often accepted 'passive student learning' approaches in schools and work to genuinely engage their students in their learning. For all of us involved in science teaching and learning, these outcomes offer possibilities for recognising that change is possible and that we should all be working towards helping our students learn and understand science in meaningful ways.
Dawson (1991) captures the wish that many science teacher educators have for their student-teachers (and that I am sure that school teachers have for their pupils too): that they will create classroom and laboratory learning experiences which will encourage their students to actively create new knowledge and understanding of science. Knowing whether or not this wish is realised is closely tied to the way our science education research literature interacts with our teaching and is another reason why research into science teaching and learning is so important to science teacher educators and science teachers.
Copyright (C) 2000 HKIEd APFSLT. Volume 1, Issue 1, Article 1 (July, 2000)