10 SES 04 B, Teaching Science (Part 1)
Paper Session: to be continued in 10 SES 06 A
In England, an element in the Science curriculum for 14-16 year old students focuses on students developing arguments, using scientific, technical and mathematical language, and considering how and why decisions about science and technology affect social, economic and environmental issues. The citizenship curriculum (QCA, 2007) for 11-14 year old students advises controversial issues to ‘be handled so that pupils develop skills in discussing and debating citizenship issues and considering points of view that are not necessarily their own’ (p. 30).
This study looks at student views on the importance of science in their lives outside the classroom. It is part of a larger study which investigated students’ and teachers’ views of schooling, science education and science and society to find out what helped students to become engaged and enthusiastic learners of science carried out in two Secondary schools in the Midlands of England in 2010–2011, one of which (InnerCity) served a multicultural urban area, and one of which, Smalltown, served a rural and largely mono-cultural area. Participants included science teachers and 33 female and 18 male 14-15 year old students, who would take their school leaving examinations (GCSEs in England) the following year, who gave their informed consent to participate.
- How do students in secondary schools perceive the importance of science in life outside school
- The similarities and differences between the perceptions and attitudes between boys and girls
- The similarities and differences between an InnerCity and Smalltown school.
Accessing students’ perspectives on education was encouraged in England by a former government (DCSF, 2008) because it fosters student engagement in learning and helps to develop a more inclusive school environment (Rudduck and Flutter, 2004). In the ROSE study Schreiner and Sjøberg (2007) noted that the more developed the society the more negative was the response to a questionnaire item ‘I like school science better than most subjects’ and only a small number of students showed aspirations to become scientists or technologists with girls showing particularly low interest. Studies reviewed by Osborne et al. (2003) showed there was a decline in students’ views of the importance of science from age 11 years onwards, and that school science had the reputation of being dull, difficult, not in touch with students’ aspirations and irrelevant to society as a whole. Barmby et al. (2008) found that this decline was more pronounced for female students. However, Reid and Skryabina (2002) reported that students had a more positive view of Physics when following a course based on the application of science and that both female and male students preferred practical activities.
Reiss (2011) argues that school science fails to enable most students to see the world from a scientific perspective. To construct a global image of the world, ‘world view’ (Aerts et al., 1994), students need to understand as many elements of their experience as possible. In a study with 16-18 year Biology students engaged in ethical issues Reis (2008) identified four possible frameworks to fit in their responses: rights and duties; utilitarianism (ideas about maximizing happiness and reducing suffering); autonomy (determining moral responsibility and accountability); and virtue ethics (the virtues that somebody represents for evaluating ethical behaviour). This study looks at how some 14-16 year old science students answer questions related to their life and controversial issues.
Aerts, D., Apostel, L., De Moor, B., Hellemans, S., Maex, E., Van Belle, H. and Van der Veken, J. (1994) World Views: From Fragmentation to Integration (Brussels, VUB Press). Available at: http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/clea/reports/worldviewsbook.html (Accessed 29 Jan 2014) Barmby, P., Kind, P.M. and Jones, K. (2008) Examining changing attitudes in secondary school science. International Journal of Science Education, 30 (8) 1075-1093 Blumer, H. (1969). Symbolic Interactionism; Perspective and Method. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. DCSF (2008) Working Together: Listening to the voices of children and young people, London: DCSF (http://publications.education.gov.uk/eOrderingDownload/DCSF-00410-2008.pdf) [accessed 27 Jan 2013] Darby, L. (2005) Science students’ perceptions of engaging pedagogy, Research in Science Education, 35, 425-445 Osborne, J., Simon, S. and Collins, S. (2003) Attitudes towards science: a review of the literature and its implications, International Journal of Science Education, 25 (9) 1049-1079 Reid, N. and Skryabina, E.A. (2002) Attitudes towards physics, International Journal in Science Education, 20(1), 67-81 Reiss, M. (2008) The use of ethical frameworks by students following a new science course for 16-18 year-olds. Science & Education, 17, 889-902 Reiss, M. (2011) How should creationism and intelligent design be dealt with in the classroom? Journal of Philosophy of Education, 45(3), 339-415 Rudduck, J. & Flutter, J. (2004) How to improve your school: Giving pupils a voice, London: Continuum Books. Schreiner, C. and Sjøberg, S. (2007) Science education and youth’s identity construction – two incompatible projects? In D. Corrigan, J. Dillon and R. Gunstone (eds), The Re-emergence of Values in the Science Curriculum, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers Strauss A.L. (1993) Continual permutations of actions. Hawthorne, New York: Aldine de Gruyter QCA (2007) Citizenship. Programme of study for key stage 3 and attainment target. Available at: http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/citizenship%202007%20programme%20of%20study%20for%20key%20stage%203.pdf (accessed 30 January 2014)
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