Learning to explain science in the classroom: the role of ITE
Dr Judith Hillier - Oxford University
‘Explanations are at the heart of teaching and learning science: teachers want their learners to be able to explain why scientific phenomena occur, but first the teachers must be able to explain the phenomena themselves and then decide how to teach their learners’. This statement can be used to illustrate the relationship between subject knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, a relationship explored in recent years in the context of a pre-service science teacher education course in the UK. It was found that the process of writing narrative explanations as an effective way of helping pre-service science teachers to develop coherent internal accounts (CIA), organised explanations (distinct from a set of facts often assessed through questions), which draw on key scientific concepts and relate them to others. CIAs aim to build up and improve scientific understanding, not perpetuate misconceptions and are carefully thought through for their use of language, models, and analogies. This process helped pre-service science teachers to develop both their subject knowledge and their pedagogical content knowledge, whilst also yielding some valuable insights into learners’ perspectives. Further research revealed that the desire of pre-service science teachers to nurture rich learning was constrained by the expectations and requirements encountered in schools. It would appear that the role of ITE is not only to develop teachers’ knowledge, but also their resilience to operate within the system, whilst still practising their professional beliefs about the roles of teachers and learners in the process of rich learning of science. An outline will be given of the next phase of the research.
For further information please contact Dr Emma Rempe-Gillen