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Psillos D., Spyrtou A., Kariotoglou P.
K. Boersma et al. (eds.), Research and the Quality of Science Education, Springer
Researchers, Teachers
3 – 10 pages
This paper consists of three parts. In the first part, authors discuss certain recent studies concerning teachers’ knowledge base. In the second part, a discussion of a framework, known as the “educational reconstruction” model, for developing and investigating small scale courses, namely teaching-learning sequences (TLS), in science teacher training is presented. According to the authors, the science content structure, the pedagogical content structure, and student teachers’ conceptions about scientific and pedagogical concepts and phenomena are seen as being equally important parameters in the process of educational reconstruction. The model involves a non-linear design and construction of instruction and the assumption that knowledge is actively constructed by individual students, and that it involves social interactions in certain material settings. Finally, in the third part, several aspects of a case study illustrating the suggested framework are discussed.
(i) Context. This TLS has been applied in the sixth semester at the Department of Primary Education, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The student teachers were prospective “all-subject” primary education teachers who had taken courses in foundation studies, and who already had some practical experience in classrooms followed by a laboratory-based course in Didactics of Science. The TLS integrated the teaching of scientific knowledge (energy content) and the teaching of the pedagogical knowledge (teaching strategies) within a constructivist framework.
(ii) Analysis and Transformation of scientific knowledge. The TLS was based on a qualitative treatment of five energy characteristics: storage, transformation, transfer, degradation, and conservation. However, instead of an in-depth study, only scant observation of student learning pathways in energy took place.
(iii) Analysis and Transformation of pedagogical knowledge. Innovative unit models of expository and discovery strategies (lasting from one to two hours) were developed and adapted for students. Such units were reconstructed in order to enact theoretical assumptions and avoid ambivalent terms concerning teaching strategies.
(iv) Construction of instruction. The TLS includes 11 modules out of which 5 are applied for teaching the energy content and 6 are used for teaching about expository, discovery, and constructivist strategies. The modules on teaching strategies provided the conceptual space for reflecting on the learning practices applied during the scientific modules. Results suggest that the TLS was reasonably successful in facilitating students’ planning of strategies.
Many studies have been conducted in order to investigate pre- and in-service science teachers’ knowledge of subject matter. Some of these studies have shown that many student teachers have problems in their understanding of several aspects of the scientific knowledge which they are subsequently called to teach. Specifically, primary school teachers hold conceptions about physical phenomena and scientific concepts similar to those held by school children. Other studies point out a contradiction between the facilitative-constructivist views in which teachers have been exposed during their training and their didactic practices in actual teaching, or even in instruction planning.
Pre-service teacher university education is often characterised by the fragmentary nature of the courses offered and by the rather large differences between pedagogies of different course categories, namely content courses and courses such as didactics of science. As a result, student teachers often end up rather “confused” and claiming that they have had little gain from their university education. To overcome this problem a large width of programmes, ranging from large scale programmes to small scale courses are designed by science education researchers.
The teaching-learning sequence provided by this paper is a promising small scale course that aims to render pre-service teachers understand energy, be able to develop clear criteria when choosing the type of teaching strategy, and discern the constructivist from the expository and discovery strategies. The presented TLS is an excellent exemplar for the links between pedagogical knowledge and content knowledge that seem to be vital in improving teacher training.
T.E.I of Ionian Islands

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2013.05.07

Posted by Ciara O\'Shea (Ireland)

Message: The relevance of this paper with regard to Science Education in Ireland lies in its ability to develop a framework for Science Education which integrates both scientific knowledge and pedagogical knowledge simultaneously in the form of Teaching Learning Sequences (TLS). The TLS design could not only be incorporated into teacher training for pre-service teachers but could also be an integral part of the delivery of CPD programs to newly qualified and experienced teachers of chemistry.
One issue that this paper highlights is the lack of coherency in science education courses in so far as the teaching and learning of scientific knowledge is separate to the teaching and learning of pedagogical knowledge. This leads to new teachers using the didactic/reproductive approach to teaching i.e. most likely the method by which they themselves learned the content, despite being exposed to the theory of facilitative/transformative learning in their pedagogical studies. In addition, a further issue raised by this paper is the lack of understanding of basic scientific principles by some teachers despite having completed scientific courses in the respective area.
The paper advocates for the development of science education programmes whereby the student teacher has a sound basis whereby they can be an inquirer and a reflective practitioner and have an ability to learn with and from others both during and after their initial training and through their career by CPD (continuous professional development). To this end the development of Teaching Learning Sequences (TLS) is particularly relevant for chemistry teachers as it is a tool whereby teachers both novice and experienced can reconstruct basic scientific principles in tandem with pedagogical principles. The basic premise is that teachers will learn what to teach and how to teach it in a logical manner i.e. the integration of scientific knowledge and pedagogical knowledge using a constructivist approach is key. This will enable all levels of teachers to begin to be transformed from practitioners and allow students to become teacher-learners capable of controlling their own learning.
The TLS can become particularly relevant to the Irish context in the next few years as the new syllabus for chemistry is set to be introduced. With the roll out of a new syllabus a certain amount of training will have to be given to teachers and the delivery of these courses would benefit greatly for the TLS design. The inservice days/evening that teachers may be afforded could follow the design outlined in this paper i.e. analysing and transforming the scientific knowledge of a particular area of the new course + analysing and transforming pedagogical knowledge i.e. enacting the theoretical assumptions and describing the various teaching strategies open to the teachers in terms of syntax (type and structure of action performed by the teacher to the student) and reaction principles (type of teacher reaction to what his/her pupils do).
In conclusion, the paper suggests that learning a variety of teaching approaches and their theoretical underpinnings have a significant role in enabling teachers to teach chemistry. However the paper does not discuss particular methodologies.

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.