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Carolina Carvalho, Sofia Freire, Joseph Conboy, Mónica Baptista, Ana Freire, Mário Azevedo and Teresa Oliveira
Journal of Turkish Science Education
School Directors, Researchers, Teachers, Policy Makers
Over 10 pages
The contents herein represent a summary of the most important information concerning the relation between students' perceptions of teacher practices and students’ motivation to study secondary school science, according to the personal opinion of the reviewer.

Starting in 2001, new curriculum for teaching science in basic and secondary school schools has been introduced, with a strong emphasis in inquiry based teaching.
The authors propose to study the student perception of teacher use of investigation activities and look for associations between those perceptions and student motivation.

Regarding investigation activity approach (IA), the authors present a literature review that supports its use in science education, stating that “IA, by providing authentic, meaningful and challenging learning experiences, based on choice and agency, may be a good approach to the attainment of such student expectations and may help shape students’ motivation for learning science”.
However, some Portuguese studies suggest (2006-2009) that teachers have not changed essential dimensions of their own practices pointing some difficulties such as lack of material resources, time constraints and student resistance to new practices.

The student perception can be useful as an additional source of information to understand the impact of curricular changes.

In this study, 59 students from 3 secondary school classes from 11th grade (29 students) and 12th grade (19 and 11 students) have participated with their correspondent 3 teachers. These students present low motivation and are academically weak.
The following two questionnaires were applied at the end of the academic year, during Physics-Chemistry classes:
1. Teacher Practices as Perceived by Students (TPPS), to analyse the perception of the use of Laboratory Work, Teacher as Facilitator, Science-Technology-Society (STS), Student Autonomy.
2. Student Motivation for Studying Science (SMSS) measures intrinsic motivation (“students are engaged with learning science in order to understand its concepts and procedures”) and extrinsic motivation (“students may strive for the sake of pleasing others or for external rewards, such as having good grades”) for studying Physics-Chemistry.

The main results obtained in this study are as follows:
- Students with the lowest grades in Physics/Chemistry (11th year) displayed the higher intrinsic motivation for learning science. These students also noted more the use of laboratory work and, to a lesser extent, that the teacher incorporated the science-technology-society approach in their classes.
- Regarding the overall sample, intrinsic motivation was associated with the perception of the use of laboratory work; the inclusion of an STS dimension; and student autonomy.
- An unexpected result was that no association was found between motivation and the perception of the teacher role as a facilitator. Concerning this aspect, the authors argue that teachers may have developed a guided inquiry and that teacher professional development may not to be following the curricular changes. They also suggest that more cooperation is needed between science educators and teachers to improve their practices. A good source of information for teachers can be the student perceptions of the events occurring in the classroom.
In the last 10 years, new curriculum for teaching science in Portuguese basic and secondary school schools has been implemented, greatly supported in inquiry based teaching.
This work presents a valuable study on the impact that those changes had on student perceptions of secondary school science teacher’s practices. The authors have tried to find an association between those student perceptions and their motivation to study science.
Some very interesting results were obtained, by studying three groups of low motivated students, from upper secondary school (a total of 59 students from 11th and 12th years). According to the authors, significant associations were observed between intrinsic motivation and three dimensions of student perception:
- Perception of the use of laboratory work;
- Perception of science-technology-society;
- Perceived student autonomy.
An unexpected result was that no association was found between intrinsic motivation and the perception of teacher as facilitator.

Another important conclusion is related to the fact that teacher professional development may not to be following the curricular changes. For that reason, the authors suggest that more cooperation is needed between science educators and teachers to improve their practices and, also, that it is important to take into account the student perceptions of what occurs in the classroom.
This cooperation is also one of the main objectives of the Chemistry is All Around project.
Instituto Politécnico de Bragança

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2012.09.20

Posted by Ioanna Karachaliou (Greece)

Message: This is an interesting publication that focuses on another dimension of chemistry teaching, namely the perceptions of the students for the practices of their teachers. The student’s opinion for the approach their teacher follows can be a critical factor for the establishment of a class “atmosphere” that can either increase or decrease their interest for the course. Every teacher has faced this issue in some degree.

The results presented in this publication can be the starting point for a fruitful discussion between students and teachers aiming at the improvement of the applied teaching practices. According to this publication, students’ motivation is related directly with the laboratory activity, the incorporation of the triad “Science – Technology – Society” in the teaching praxis and students’ autonomy. An interesting point made is that students are more interested in science when teaching is connected with applications from everyday life and in society, possibly because in this way they can more easily understand its usefulness.

In this research it is shown that students’ motivation for learning science is more closely connected with their autonomy and less with the role of the teacher as facilitator. This is an interesting finding for which no specific explanation is given however, but only some thoughts and speculations. Further research is needed.

Teachers’ professional development is proposed as a possible solution. According to the authors, teachers need to develop their knowledge for the nature of science and also develop the ability to incorporate authentic research environments in their teaching practice. In my opinion, it is true that we, as teachers, need to move beyond the traditional teaching methods in a world that constantly changes. However, what usually happens and it applies also for this publication, no specific directions/practical advice/modes of action relevant to how this can be achieved in practice are stated. In addition, there is no reference to the difficulties that teachers may face during this process.

National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.