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Knowledge and Skills that Science Teachers Need for Teaching the Nature of Science

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posted on 2011-03-16, 16:00 authored by Kwok–chi Lau
Nature of science (NOS) has long been a highly valued element of science education, but it remains largely ignored in science classrooms despite decades of efforts in promoting it. Past research mostly focuses on curricular efforts and NOS understanding of teachers and students to the exclusion of in depth examination of NOS teaching in actual classrooms. The studies targeting NOS teaching, however, often put heavy emphasis on the intentions and beliefs of teachers to account for whether or not NOS aspects are addressed in the classrooms. These types of studies still treat NOS teaching as a black box without addressing the complex interplays between teachers and students in class, and also fail to address the issues pertaining to the competence of teachers in NOS teaching. This study seeks to delineate and understand the complex dynamics of NOS teaching in actual classroom contexts in order to shed light on the knowledge and skills that science teachers need to teach NOS. The study employed a multiple case study design, examining in depth the NOS teaching attempts of eight science teachers in Hong Kong. Data were collected mainly through class observations, interviews, and analysis of teaching plans. The NOS understandings and constructivist pedagogy of the teachers were assessed with quantitative instruments. A framework for the key characteristics of NOS teaching is established based on the literature and empirical findings of this study. Three knowledge bases are found connected with these characteristics: knowledge of NOS, pedagogical knowledge and skills to teach NOS in a constructivist and dialogic manner, and knowledge of the contexts for NOS teaching, such as history of science. The implications of the findings to teacher training and curriculum development pertinent to NOS were discussed.



Cooper, Paul

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University of Leicester

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