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Experiments" and the Inquiry Emphasis Conflation in Science Teacher Education
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
2011 (English)In: Science Education, ISSN 0036-8326, E-ISSN 1098-237X, Vol. 95, no 5, 908-926 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines the use and role of the term experiment in science teacher education as described by teacher students. Data were collected through focus group interviews conducted at seven occasions with 32 students from six well-known Swedish universities. The theoretical framework is a sociocultural and pragmatist perspective on language and learning with the analysis based on the notion of pivot terms, introduced in an earlier article, to operationalize language use as habit and mediated action. The term experiment was found to be conflated with laboratory task and referred to as primarily a pedagogical activity in contrast to a research methodology, in line with the previously described inquiry emphasis conflation. The notion of controlled experiment was unfamiliar to most students and had not been explicitly discussed in terms of research methodology during their teacher education. The pedagogical meaning given to the term experiment is discussed in contrast to its use and function in scientific research. The possible problems of this conflation of terms are discussed in relation to the educational goal of teaching students about the nature of scientific inquiry. Recommendations for teacher education are discussed, and a heuristic model to use pivot terms to facilitate explicit reflection on unexamined customs of science education is introduced.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 95, no 5, 908-926 p.
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Mathematics Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-68005DOI: 10.1002/sce.20446ISI: 000293844300006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-68005DiVA: diva2:471961
Note
authorCount :2Available from: 2012-01-03 Created: 2012-01-02 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically 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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