Professional Learning of General Science Teachers: Epistemic Discourse and Understanding of Scientific Epistemology

Project Number
OER 05/14 TAL

Project Duration
July 2014 - March 2017

Status
Completed

Abstract
This research examines the understanding of scientific epistemology of inservice teachers teaching general science at the lower secondary levels and how their scientific epistemologies shape their critique of evidence and explanations. We pay special attention to what teachers teaching lower secondary science perceive scientific knowledge to be and how they justify their beliefs about and of scientific knowledge - the epistemic features of scientific knowledge. As lower secondary science is designed to be taught as integrated general science consisting of all the three sub-disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics, the expertise of (or the lack of) a teacher teaching all the three components can potentially be problematic. Unlike primary school science teachers who are trained as generalists, lower secondary science teachers are specialists in their particular trained specialty sub-discipline. Consequently, while they are cognizant of the nature of scientific knowledge, and are als o aware of the processes of science, the uniqueness of subject matter knowledge of each sub-discipline of biology, chemistry and physics knowledge can potentially be problematic as they try to teach content across the sub-disciplines. The notion that is still much debated today is whether there is one generic scientific epistemology or whether there are many 'natures of science'. To date, our understanding of whether there is different characterization of nature of science remains vague. As such, this research aims to understand the scientific epistemologies held by general science teachers and the difficulties they faced teaching integrated general science. We also aim to suggest plausible ways to increase their self-efficacy in teaching across different sub-disciplines through the use of heuristics. We design a heuristics for science teaching to aid teachers in reflecting on aspects of science teaching beyond the specific science content. Some aspects of science teaching include inquiring about evidences and crafting explanations. The critique of knowledge and scientific processes will also allow science teachers to appreciate the robustness of current scientific knowledge as well as its tentativeness. quiring about evidences and crafting explanations. The critique of knowledge and scientific processes will also allow science teachers to appreciate the robustness of current scientific knowledge as well as its tentativeness.

Funding Source
NIE

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