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How Science Works in the UK secondary school science curriculum: effects on teachers Maria G.W. Turkenburg-van Diepen UK-SERC July 2, 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "How Science Works in the UK secondary school science curriculum: effects on teachers Maria G.W. Turkenburg-van Diepen UK-SERC July 2, 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 How Science Works in the UK secondary school science curriculum: effects on teachers Maria G.W. Turkenburg-van Diepen UK-SERC July 2, 2012

2 Overview Introduction Research questions Methodology Results Conclusions

3 The National Curriculum (Science) ‘Content’: biology, chemistry, physics – the Ideas of Science How Science Works: explore, investigate, experiment, enquire; The Nature of Science, how we know what we know; applications, implications; communication – the Ideas about Science

4 2004 National Curriculum for Science: new curriculum for Key Stage 4 (KS4, ages 14-16); for first teaching from September 2006; new emphasis on How Science Works; less prescriptive for biology, chemistry and physics

5 Research questions How does How Science Works influence science teachers’ classroom practice? – What do they do now that they didn’t do when HSW wasn’t in the curriculum? Is there something they wouldn’t do if it wasn’t for How Science Works? How do they feel about that? Does the presence of How Science Works in the science curricula influence science teachers’ thinking about secondary school science and how it should be taught? – If so, how? What are teachers’ own views about How Science Works? Have teachers’ views of science and science teaching changed since the introduction of How Science Works? Do teachers see the more explicit emphasis on HSW as a positive development? – If so, why do they think so? If not, what are their reasons?

6 Methodology Semi-structured interviews with teachers Observations to ‘support’ self-reporting Interviews with other stakeholders

7 The sample – Main Study teacher interviews Representative... Purposive, contact; 25 teachers in five different types of schools; 14 male, 11 female; subject specialism mix biology:chemistry:physics 10:7:8; length of teaching experience: range 1-30, mean <12, median 10

8 Interview – change? “Change, certainly” (8) “I was doing it all along” (2) “We were doing it already, but...” (9) Six teachers started teaching after 2006; of the remaining:

9 Change? “Change, certainly” “We were part way through developing our two-year KS3 at this point and we wanted it to be skills based. [...] It certainly was the most fun writing schemes of work we had had in 2006; it was the most fun because we really did feel as though we were throwing away a lot of dusty old stuff we didn’t want to do and were forced to do, and we had the freedom to run with it.” (Teacher C1) “I suppose the big impact that it has had on my teaching is that I feel like I am not constrained anymore. I was very pleased actually when it came in because as I have said I felt like science isn’t something that exists in a bubble outside the world, science is so crucial to everyday life that it should be taught in the context of everyday life.” and “now if I am setting lesson objectives I will set skills as objectives; they are as much part of the lesson and part of the learning.” (Teacher D1) “I think initially everybody’s reaction was ‘Oh gosh, there’s this massive change, and we need to change everything’, but [...] I think we’ve just tweaked things, maybe, and I think we’re a lot more conscious of making sure we hit all those targets.” (Teacher A1) pioneer embracer follower

10 Change? “I was doing it all along” “New syllabuses come and go, material comes into the syllabus, material goes out of the syllabus, you know, they switch it around, and put it in like this, and then they move it around and take it out like that. Nothing really changes. Nothing changes.” (Teacher G1) “I think it's something a good teacher would do in teaching science, is the applications, and the uses, and the relevance, and developing important analytical and research skills, and so on. [...] I think they're useful, and they're beneficial, and they're important, which is why I did them in the first place, I think.” (Teacher K1) confident veteran pioneer

11 Change? “We were doing it already, but...” All pioneers? “I think to begin with it was much more just about carrying out a practical, if you like, and being able to carry out an investigation, and now it’s more about the wider aspects of peer review and the way that scientific theories develop, rather than just investigating a practical yourself.” (Teacher F3) “We've always had discussions and debates, and arguments. As staff have changed, in the department, we've seen different approaches come in, which has strengthened some of the work we've done.” (Teacher I1) embracer follower

12 How Science Works (KS4) SectionCode 1. Data, evidence, theories and explanations (History and Philosophy of Science – HPS) H 2. Practical and enquiry skillsI 3. Communication skillsC 4. Applications and implications of science – Socio-scientific aspects S

13 Interview – what is HSW?

14 Skills White Paper: “The aim of this national Skills Strategy is to ensure that employers have the right skills to support the success of their businesses, and individuals have the skills they need to be both employable and personally fulfilled.” 2002 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Report: “new National Curriculum should require all students to be taught the skills of scientific literacy”

15 Skills... “Well we refer to [HSW] as scientific skills. A large part of it is planning, hypothesising, doing, analysing and evaluating experiments but also the area I am very keen on is what actually science is. The kids think everything in science is a fact and it’s trying to get over to them that actually everything is theories, models, that whole idea that if somebody comes up with a better idea that better fits the evidence, or someone discovers some new evidence then the models and theories will change, and it’s trying to get that through to the kids really. There are a whole load of things that go with that but that to me is as big a focus as the actual experimental skills.” (Teacher F1, emphasis original)

16 Influences on teachers’ thinking External: all that is posed on a teacher by national decree Internal: anything that is important within the teacher’s school Personal: anything in the teacher’s background from before and outside their current school situation Goodson, I. F. (2003). Professional knowledge, professional lives: studies in education and change. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

17 Influences on teachers’ thinking - external The HSW section of the curriculum itself – Integration/separation – Assessment Other initiatives – The UK Skills Agenda – Assessment for Learning, Personal Learning and Thinking Skills – Teacher training

18 Influences on teachers’ thinking - internal Cross-curricular activity – Philosophy, RE, PSHE School and department development – AfL, PLTS – Better scientists, not just better exam takers School type – Selective is not restrictive – Future scientists

19 Influences on teachers’ thinking - personal Background and identity – Family – University – Research background Growing as a teacher: subject and pedagogy – Implicit/explicit – (im)mature philosophy of science – Confidence and external validation Teaching goals – Making science come alive – Fathoming the meaning of science in the media – Intrinsic/extrinsic motivation

20 Conclusions Changes – pioneer, embracer, follower, confident veteran Commitment to various aspects of/surrounding HSW – HIS – Skills, assessment, textbooks Multiple influences – Not just HSW itself


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