Core Research Programme: Baseline Investigation of Science Pedagogy

Project Number
OER 17/14 KBK

Project Duration
January 2015 - December 2017


In broad terms, the central objective of the Core programme is to provide a systemic measurement and modelling of curriculum and reform initiatives, pedagogical practices and student learning in a representative sample of Singapore primary and secondary schools. Consistent with Core 1 findings (2004-2007), Core 2 (2009-2014) showed evidence of a dominant performative instructional orientation in Primary 5 and Secondary 3 English and Mathematics classrooms. Specifically, teachers used a hybridic pedagogical regime that combines performative pedagogy (scripted instruction, focus on factual/procedural knowledge, teacher-dominated talk, focus on examination preparation) and knowledge-building pedagogy (domain-specific knowledge practices, epistemic orientations and skills, complex cognitive work, metacognition), with the former arguably accounting for the current character and success of Singapore's school system. Given the outstanding 2012 PISA results, the Core programme continues to investigate what makes the Singapore education system successful, and recommend pedagogical innovations that can improve the system. Therefore, a key Core task is to examine pedagogical stability in various subject-domains and the emerging pedagogical hybridities. There is therefore a need to continue this important work by investigating and monitoring shifts in the core systemic elements of teaching and learning. Importantly, there is an urgent need to provide an updated baseline data and evaluation of science pedagogy in primary and secondary schools. This is because the last baseline collected for Science was in 2004 (Core 1), and there has been a strong focus on inquiry-driven teaching and learning in the science curriculum since early 2000. Framed by recent educational initiatives, and in light of PISA 2015's focus on Science, this study aims: (a) To develop, refine, and test a Singapore Coding Scheme 3 for Science (SCS3-SC) to capture pedagogical practices and the intellectual quality of knowledge work in Primary 5 and Secondary 3 science classrooms in Singapore; (b) To examine the relationships between instructional and pedagogical practices, the intellectual quality of knowledge work in the classroom, and teacher pedagogical reasoning in Science (Primary 5 and Secondary 3); (c) To develop a baseline data on Primary 5 and Secondary 3 Science classroom practices for comparison with future Science datasets in the Core programme. Ultimately, as part of the broader Core Research Programme, this study aims to provide policy-makers and researchers timely and evidence-based baseline descriptions and evaluations on the state of pedagogical practice in Singapore schools.

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