27 SES 05 A, Subject Contents in Curriculum and Assessment
This paper presents the first step of a doctoral thesis aiming at characterizing the transition between primary grades and lower secondary grades about science education, both in France and in Western Switzerland. At this stage, we focus on a comparison of the curriculum texts available in these two countries in order to provide the background of the actual classroom practices in theses countries. This study also contributes to a broader international project investigating the role of teaching traditions in learning in physics, chemistry, biology, physical education and health in Sweden, Switzerland and France that aims to identify the teaching traditions in the classroom practices of three countries (France, Sweden, Switzerland) and to analyze the limits and possibilities of each of the tradition regarding learning (Almqvist, 2012).
According to Lidar and al. (2012) and Lundqvist et al (2012), a teaching tradition shapes the curriculum in the sense that it contains ideas about the goals of science education and therefore about the kind of skills expected from the students in order to achieve these specific goals. Östman (1996) has defined three different teaching traditions in science education: academic, moral and applied. The academic tradition spreads the idea that the mere products and methods of science (laws, theories, scientific method) are worth to be taught. Lidar and al. (2012) have split this tradition in two parts: one that integrates scientific methods and that includes the epistemological dimension of scientific knowledge (the academic constructionist tradition) and another one that only concentrates on the products of science (the academic positivist tradition). The applied tradition focuses on explanations about usual technical objects, so that could help to increase the student’s autonomy in their everyday life. The moral tradition opens up to the relationship between science and society and makes students think about the decisions that they will have to make as future citizens.
In the light of the didactic transposition theory (Chevallard, 2007) and the joint action theory in didactics (Sensevy, 2012), Ligozat (2011) showed that the logics of the classroom actions in teaching mathematics rely upon certain pedagogical/ideological pre-constructs, beyond the mere teaching of the epistemic contents. In other words, the selection of what is to be taught is the classroom in a given country tends to be tuned by certain ways of teaching a subject, that are partially implicit in the curriculum texts and teaching materials.
Regarding science teaching in France, Venturini and al. (2014) showed the influence of the epistemological teacher’s point of view about the knowledge construction on the development of an inquiry in the classroom. The teacher can not help transforming the inquiry process into an inductive approach, on the basis that knowledge should be built from practical experiments and not from preconceived opinions. Thus what is implicitly taught about the nature of science is rather shaped by personal beliefs than by the curriculum standards, even if the teacher feels concerned about the institutional requirements.
Against this background, we analyse both the French and the Western Switzerland curriculum texts with respect to the following questions:
- What do the French curriculum and the Western Swiss one have in common? In what ways do they differ, regarding the contents, the objectives of science teaching and the ways science should be taught?
- Can we identify one (or several) teaching tradition(s) in the text of each curriculum? Are these traditions more or less obvious between the primary school and the lower secondary school curricula?
Almqvist, J. (2012). Teaching traditions and learning. Comparative didactic analysis of science education and physical education and health in Sweden, Switzerland and France -. Project funded by the Swedish Research Council (2013-2018). Chevallard, Y. (2007). Readjusting Didactics to a Changing Epistemology. European Educational Research Journal, 6(2), 131‑134. Lidar, M., Karlberg, M., Lundqvist, E., & Almqvist, J. (2012). Manners of Teaching and Teaching Traditions in Science Education: What Do Teachers Emphase? Paper presented in Network 27 Didactics / Learning and Teaching. ECER, 18-21 sept., Cadiz, Spain. Ligozat, F. (2011). The Determinants of the Joint Action in Didactics: the Text-Action Relationship in Teaching Practice. In B. Hudson & M. A. Meyer (Éd.), Beyond fragmentation: Didactics, Learning and Teaching in Europe (p. 157‑176). Opladen & Farmington Hills MI: Barbara Budrich Publishers. Lundqvist, E., Almqvist, J., & Östman, L. (2012). Institutional traditions in teachers’ manners of teaching. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 7(1), 111‑127. Sensevy, G. (2012). Patterns of Didactic Intentions, Thought Collective and Documentation Work. In G. Gueudet, B. Pepin, & L. Trouche (Éd.), From Text to « Lived » Resources (Vol. 7, p. 43‑57). Springer Netherlands. Östman, L. (1996). Discourses, discursive meanings and socialization in chemistry education. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 28(1), 37‑55. Venturini, P., Tiberghien, A., von Aufsnaiter, C., Kelly, G. & Mortimer, E. (2014). Analysis of teaching and learning practices in physics and chemistry education: theoretical and methodological issues. In C. Bruguière, A. Tiberghien & P. Clément, (Eds.). Topics and Trends in Current Science Education: 9th ESERA Conference Selected Contributions (pp. 469-485). Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-7281-6_29
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