Science Instruction in Comprehensive School: Pre- and In-Service Teachers’ Ideas

By Sivbritt Dumbrajs and Tuula Keinonen.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the present study we ask how beginning class teachers react to the school culture they encounter when starting to teach. Especially we are interested in their thoughts about sciences and teaching of sciences. Altogether 9 pre- and in-service teachers participated in the present investigation. The teachers were asked to write an essay telling about their background, how they have experienced their studies of sciences, what their opinions about the nature of science are, and about their experiences of teaching sciences. These essays form the body of analysis in this study. One half of the teachers have studied sciences to a higher degree than needed for a class teacher exam. It seems that such teachers volunteered to participate in the present investigation that had an interest in sciences. Teachers point out that science is connected to every-day experiences and that no one can live on earth without being confronted with sciences. Beginning teachers think that sciences, as well as most other subjects, are treated rather superficially in the teacher education; the intention is assumed to be that teachers should deepen their knowledge where needed. It is stated that good instruction presupposes good subject matter knowledge. Teachers want to build on the prior knowledge of the students and hope to keenly involve themselves in students’ interests and skills. Pre-service teachers want to apply an investigative, student activating and variable attitude to their teaching. However, in reality in-service teachers note that lack of time and experimental equipment makes it difficult to allow students to work in small groups and perform their own experiments. Integration of different subjects into larger entities and collaboration between teachers are suggested as means to overcome these hindrances.

Keywords: Teacher Education, Teaching of Sciences, Prior Knowledge, Investigative Attitude, Primary School, Teachers’ Thinking

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp.95-104. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 555.472KB).

Dr. Sivbritt Dumbrajs

Associated researcher, Department of Applied Education, University of Joensuu, Espoo, Finland

I defended my doctoral thesis in the summer of 2007 at Joensuu university. The topic was “A Learning Community; Teachers and Students Engaged in Developing Their Own Learning and Understanding”. Since then I work in collaboration with a researcher at the Joensuu University. Our main interests are teacher education and use of narratives in education. Especially we are interested in the teaching of sciences, as performed by class teachers, in comprehensive schools.

Prof. Tuula Keinonen

Senior Assistant, Department of Applied Education, University of Joensuu, Joensuu, Finland

PhD in Physics 1984, Senior Assistant 1990-1998: Department of Physics, University of Joensuu Senior Assistant: Department of Applied Education, University of Joensuu, 1998- Research activities: University of Joensuu, University Erlangen-Nuremberg, University Louis Pasteur Strassbourg.

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