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Teachers' language on scientific inquiry: Methods of teaching or methods of inquiry?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physics. (Elementarpartikelfysik)
2010 (English)In: International Journal of Science Education, ISSN 0950-0693, E-ISSN 1464-5289, Vol. 32, no 9, 1151-1172 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

With a focus on the use of language related to scientific inquiry, this paper explores how 12 secondary school science teachers describe instances of students’ practical work in their science classes. The purpose of the study was to shed light on the culture and traditions of secondary school science teaching related to inquiry as expressed in the use of language. Data consisted of semi-structured interviews about actual inquiry units used by the teachers. These were used to situate the discussion of their teaching in a real context. The theoretical background is sociocultural and pragmatist views on the role of language in science learning. The analysis focuses on two concepts of scientific inquiry: hypothesis and experiment. It is shown that the teachers tend to use these terms with a pedagogical function thus conflating methods of teaching with methods of inquiry as part of an emphasis on teaching the children the correct explanation. The teachers did not prioritise an understanding of scientific inquiry as a knowledge goal. It discusses how learners’ possibilities to learn about the characteristics of scientific inquiry and the nature of science are affected by an unreflective use of everyday discourse.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 32, no 9, 1151-1172 p.
Keyword [en]
inquiry-based teaching, laboratory work, language, teacher knowledge, science education
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-41682DOI: 10.1080/09500690902977457ISI: 000277828700002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-41682DiVA: diva2:332126
Available from: 2010-08-02 Created: 2010-08-02 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Teachers' Language of Inquiry: The Conflation Between Methods of Teaching and Scientific Inquiry in Science Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teachers' Language of Inquiry: The Conflation Between Methods of Teaching and Scientific Inquiry in Science Education
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The objective of this thesis is to describe and analyse customs of science teaching in secondary schools and teacher education programmes in Sweden in relation to the notion of “inquiry” in science education. The main focus is on customs of language use and the educational goal of learning about scientific inquiry as distinct from the related goals of learning to do inquiry and learning canonical science content. There is also an exploration and description of different teaching approaches associated with “inquiry”. Previous research has noted that a key issue for reaching the goal of learning about scientific inquiry is the extent to which teachers are able to guide students to explicitly reflect upon this topic. A prerequisite is that teachers give students access to relevant categories of language for explicit reflection on the characteristics of scientific inquiry. Because of the situated nature of language use and learning, this also raises the need to address topics of context, culture and customs in science education. This thesis addresses the questions of how existing customs of teaching science are related to the goal of learning about scientific inquiry, how inquiry-related terminology is used in this context, and how relevant distinctions can be made to aid explicit reflection on these issues. Data has been collected in two studies and analysed and presented in four papers. Study 1 is based on interviews with twelve secondary school science teachers, and Study 2 is based on focus group interviews with 32 pre-service teacher students. The results include a description of the existing customs of inquiry-oriented instructional approaches in Swedish secondary schools. They show that these are often not connected with an explicit focus on teaching about the characteristics of scientific inquiry.  Inquiry-related terminology is analysed with a focus on the role and use of the terms “hypothesis” and “experiment”. Based on a theoretical framework of sociocultural and pragmatist views on language and learning, it is shown how the use of these terms, both in secondary schools and teacher education, tend to conflate the two categories methods of teaching and methods of scientific inquiry. Some problematic consequences for reaching the goal of learning about scientific inquiry are discussed, as well as possible origins of the problems and how the results from this thesis can be useful in overcoming these.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Stockholm University, 2010. 61 p.
Keyword
inquiry, secondary school, teacher education, laboratory work, hypothesis, experiment, language, sociocultural, pragmatism, customs, cultural institutions, pivot term, nature of science, focus groups
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-42694 (URN)978-91-7447-122-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-10-15, sal G, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 20 C, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Submitted. Paper 4: Submitted. Available from: 2010-09-23 Created: 2010-09-12 Last updated: 2012-01-03Bibliographically approved

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Gyllenpalm, JakobWickman, Per-OlofHolmgren, Sven-Olof
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