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  • 1.
    Sund, Per
    Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication, Educational Sciences and Mathematics.
    Discerning selective traditions in science education – A qualitative study of teachers’ responses to what is important in science teaching2016In: Cultural Studies of Science Education, ISSN 1871-1502, E-ISSN 1871-1510, Vol. 11, no 2, p. 387-409Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Science teachers have differing views about what students should learn. Their teaching experience often leads them to develop habitual answers to students’ questions, such as – why should I learn this? Some teachers argue that students need to learn more ‘canonical’ science knowledge so that they can become scientists, while others tell students to apply scientific knowledge in order to make their everyday lives easier. If a group of teachers argue and act in similar ways in similar situations, they can be described as working in a similar collective habit. In this study these are called selective traditions in science teaching. In practical terms they work well in everyday, multifaceted, hectic teaching situations. However, the traditions can obstruct the inclusion of socio-scientific issues (SSI) in national science education tests. Some research has been conducted on selective traditions in written curriculum material, although little is known about how they can be discerned in teachers’ descriptions of their science teaching. This study draws on Dewey’s discussion of the interplay between individual and collective habits to discern teaching traditions by regarding them as institutionalized teaching habits. A firmly developed analytical tool is applied to the extensive data consisting of twenty-nine Swedish science teachers’ responses in semi-structured interviews. The methodology used in this study is inspired by earlier environmental and sustainability education (ESE) research. The results are discussed in relation to earlier research on ‘scientific literacy’ and how research can support teachers’ changes of practice to encourage students to perform better in large-scale tests.

  • 2.
    Sund, Per
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication, Educational Sciences and Mathematics.
    Lundqvist, Eva
    Uppsala Universitet.
    Selective traditions in group discussions – teachers’ views about good science and the possible obstacles when encountering a new topic2016In: Cultural Studies of Science Education, ISSN 1871-1502, E-ISSN 1871-1510, p. 1-18Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    There is an ongoing discussion about what content that should be taught in science education and there are different views among teachers about what represent good science content. However, teachers are not isolated individuals making their own interpretations, but are part of institutionalised systems building on patterns in the selection of teaching goals and content. Earlier research shows that teachers teach in alignment with different selective traditions, which can be understood as well-developed teaching habits. Individual teachers seem to develop their personal habits on the basis of the contextual situations created by earlier generations of teachers.

    In order to find out which content teachers find representative for science education, we asked nine teachers to take part in group interviews to talk about what they value as “good” science content. The participants were grouped according to their selective traditions expressed in earlier studies. The method was used to dynamically explore, challenge and probe teachers views.

    The starting point for the group discussions is national tests in science. In Sweden, national tests in biology, physics and chemistry were introduced in secondary school science (Year 9) in 2009. One overarching aim of these tests is to support the implementation of the science curricula and to include for example knowledge about socio-scientific issues (SSI). The content of the tests can consequently be seen as important for teachers to consider.

    The findings show on the one hand that the individual science teachers choose science content in alignment with an earlier categorisation illustrated in a selective tradition study. On the other hand, teachers seem to return to a scientific rational discourse when they discuss questions in the tests relating to socio-scientific issues. The results are discussed in relation to the issue that teachers seem to be more comfortable when working with traditional science content but also in relation to the finding about how teachers’ selective traditions appear to become less visible in group discussions.

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