An exploration of what determines teacher pedagogy in the context of conceptual change in science
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AbstractThis study investigated the factors influencing learning decisions made by a group of teachers using as a context lessons intended to achieve conceptual change. To achieve this change, teachers look to move their pupils’ understanding of key ‘big’ scientific ideas toward versions nearer to those accepted as accurate by the scientific community. As one of the three fundamental goals of science education this context offers the potential to both develop science teachers and improve secondary school science teaching; in consequence offering the potential to enhance the learning of children within science lessons. The extent to which teachers’ pedagogic choices change with increasing experience was considered and the factors bringing this about investigated. The participants in this case study were secondary school teachers, all alumni from an English university-based teacher-training provider. The research intention was to better understand the practice of these teachers, to support teacher development within a specific context and to develop new knowledge of this practice that could be usefully communicated to a wider audience. Its original contribution to practice and understanding arises from demonstrating the importance to expose all new teachers, particularly those from school-based training routes to social constructivist teaching strategies and to then support them in adopting and retaining such strategies, as have been shown to be more evident in their more experienced colleagues practice. This interpretivist research used a ‘learning theory lens’ to consider teachers’ responses to an on-line questionnaire, in-depth interviews and lesson observations to examine their motives and the culture, philosophy and pressures underpinning their choices. The findings suggest differences in preferred teaching strategy arise from teachers’ initial teacher training, their experience as a teacher and the culture present in their school. Recommendations for the professional development of science teachers are made which include enhancing teacher awareness of the teaching strategies that provide opportunities for conceptual change. It is also suggested that within the wider context of schools an easing of prescriptive pupil seating policies, which often inhibit discourse, will improve pupils’ opportunity to achieve understanding of big ideas in science. Teacher discussion, and lesson observation tools based upon learning theory have been developed which utilise a framework of learning theory to encourage teacher self-reflection and peer-to-peer examination of teachers’ practice.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Education.
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