Towards Building Authentic Understandings of Contemporary Science Practices for Science Educators


ReMSTEP is a collaborative initiative involving 4 partner universities funded by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The project aims to promote the reconceptualising of Mathematics and Science Teacher Education Programs by fostering partnerships between scientists and educators to improve confidence and competence in teaching STEM education. One response developed by the Faculties of Science and Education at Monash University has been the design of a masters unit to assist pre-service and in-service science teachers to explore the practices of contemporary science and examine how varied understandings can influence science communication. The unit is designed to encourage teachers to explore their current understandings of Nature of Science (NoS) and to contrast their views with those known to be widely held by society (Cobern & Loving, 1998). Teachers are challenged to construct visual representations of contemporary science practice which reflect their altered understandings of NoS and provide insights into the thinking that shaped their design. In order to build more authentic understandings of contemporary science practice each student organises to ‘shadow’ a research scientist and engage them in conversations designed to explore the scientists’ views of NoS and their practice as mapped against a framework of five levels of science cognitive engagement. Preliminary findings suggest that teachers were initially uncomfortable with the challenge of constructing visual representations to express ideas. Teachers were also surprised how diverse the views of NoS can be even among scientists and that these views can directly impact on ways of communicating contemporary science practice.

Author Information
Greg Lancaster, Monash University, Australia
Lisa Fazio, Monash University, Australia
Joanne Burke, Monash University, Australia
Deborah Corrigan, Monash University, Australia
David Overton, Monash University, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: ECE2016
Stream: Curriculum research and development

This paper is part of the ECE2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon