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Relating course theory to school practice: a study of science student teachers learning
Karlstad University, Faculty of Technology and Science.
2012 (English)Conference paper, Poster (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The relationship between theory taught at teacher training courses and school practice is an important issue in teacher education. From research, however, we know that this relationship is often quite weak and always not very clear (de Jong 2005). The aim for this study is to clarify this relationship and to contribute to enhance the relationship between courses and practice.

The study focus on 25 science student teacher's participating in short (1½ year) teacher training program in our University. The students had completed their subject studies earlier, perhaps in another education program, and by adding this course they would be qualified secondary teachers.  Since the students already achieved their subject matter knowledge (SMK), the focus of the course is general pedagogy (PK) and science education in order to increase the students' pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). "PCK is involved in knowing what knowledge is relevant, Re-constructing the knowledge in pedagogically appropriate ways, and re-presenting the knowledge in ways that effectively mediate the learning of all students." (Tobin & McRobbie 1999). Within the course several periods of teaching practice is included. In their practice the students should become aware of critical events in the classroom. A critical event is a specific situation in a lesson that is critical or significant for the student, and evokes their concerns, questions or needs for support for learning how to teach science (Tripp 1993). Critical Incidents has been used successfully to help student teacher focus on the problematic nature of teaching (Nott & Wellington 1995; Griffin 1993; de Jong 2009). In self reflection and discussions with peers and educators about these incidents, student teachers might explicit their concerns for teaching and needs for learning (de Jong 2000).

General research question: To what extent does the Teacher education course help student teachers to overcome these concerns and to fulfil their needs for learning?

The method used is teacher student self reporting about their lesson observations and/or about their teaching in terms of:

a)      Critical events

b)      Evoked concerns

c)       Needs for learning

In the report, a critical event should deal with teaching and learning specific science topics, no general issues like 'law and order' in the classroom. In addition, two workshops were included in the data collection were the students discussions about their experiences were recorded.

The Teacher students expressed that they felt comfortable with their Subject Matter Knowledge (SMK), however, they expressed needs for teaching strategies for i) explaining difficult concepts but also for ii) motivating and enthusiasm their pupils. They were also surprised over some of the pupils' preconceptions and difficulties. Knowledge of teaching strategies and students' difficulties are the two major parts of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) i.e., the knowledge of how to transform scientific knowledge to a form appreciated by the learners. Further, some students asked for all set lectures, explanations and arguments for motivation. These statements might indicate that the teacher students weren't so comfortable with their SMK as they felt.  The critical incidents found in this study are quite similar to what other studies have found.  Regarding 'concerns 'and 'needs' the students show a lack of self criticism. This has also been reported by de Jong & Van Driel (1999).  Further, from the 'concerns' we can see that the students have some insight of deficiencies in the course but from 'needs' we can conclude that students prefer to be 'feed' from the teacher education program. Deeper reflections in several steps were also lacking, which are crusial in order to initiate development od PCK (Nilsson 2008).

De Jong, O. (2000), The Teacher Trainer as Researcher: Exploring the initial pedagogical content concerns of prospective science teachers, European Journal of Teacher Education, Volume 23, Issue 2, 2000

De Jong, O. (2005), Research and teaching practice in chemical education: Living apart or together?, Chemical Education International, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2005

De Jong, O. (2009). Supporting innovations in chemistry teacher education: the Critical Incident Method. In M. Bilek (Ed.). Research, Theory and Practice in Chemistry Education (pp. 342-352). Hradec Kralove: Gaudeamus Publishers.

de Jong, O. & van Driel, J.H. (1999), Prospective Teachers' Concerns about Teaching Chemistry Topics at a Macro-Micro-Symbolic Interface, Paper presented at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Boston

Griffin, M.L. (2003), Using critical incidents to promote and assess reflective thinking in preservice teachers, Reflective Practice, 4 (2003), pp. 207–220

Nilsson, P. (2008), Teaching for Understanding: The complex nature of pedagogical content knowledge in pre‐service education, International Journal of Science Education, Volume 30, Issue 10, 2008

Nott, M. and Wellington, J.(1995), Critical incidents in the science classroom and the nature of science, School Science Review, 76 (1995), pp. 41–46

Tobbin, K. & McRobbie, C.J.,(1999). Nature, sources and development of pedagogical content knowledge. In J. Gess-Newsome & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Examining pedagogical content knowledge (pp.95-132). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Tripp, D. (1993). Critical incidents in teaching. Developing professional judgement. London: Routledge.

Van Driel, J.H., De Jong, O. & Verloop, N. (2002), The Development of Preservice Chemistry Teachers' Pedagogical Content Knowledge, Science Education, v86 n4 p572-90

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-29623OAI: diva2:657186
Available from: 2013-10-18 Created: 2013-10-18 Last updated: 2013-11-18Bibliographically approved

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