Teaching by telling is outdated in science (Freeman et al. 2014). This is not a shock declaration, but does point to areas of deep concern in higher education as most teaching still relies on a transmission model rather than a transformation one. Student numbers for those studying STEM are low and can only be improved upon if traditional lecturing is abandoned in favour of active learning (Ibid.). Work carried out by Smith and Anderson (1984) on science educators (compulsory education), identified three teaching approaches used by teachers: activity-driven teaching, didactic teaching and discovery teaching. These approaches can be innovative in their own way and lead to inspired changes in the classroom. Even though this may be the case for compulsory education, higher education teaching is guided by different principles and patterns.
Part of the problem is that knowledge and belief about the purposes and goals for teaching science at a particular grade level deeply influence orientations to teaching science (Magnusson et al. 1999). This elicitation of beliefs becomes crucial as practice is influenced by what is already known and believed about teaching, learning and learners (Borko and Putnam 1996). Once a belief system has been set, it is very difficult to change it (Friedrichsen and Dana 2005). By and large, science teachers at higher education level believe that students need to be informed and it is around this belief that their teaching is organised.
Higher education teachers traditionally enter academia without teaching qualifications, but rather as accomplished researchers. Their research is driven by the formulation and testing of hypotheses and their subject by linking knowledge and creating new forms of knowledge. The type of teaching that higher education is beginning to encourage jars with this notion of how the discipline is understood. Academic development plays a central role in terms of preparing faculty to embrace their roles as teachers. Academic development works on the premise that critical reflection is a key determinant of how we develop as teachers.
The purposes of deploying particular strategies of teaching are at the core of identifying ones orientations (Prosser et al. 1994). However, there is a danger that by understanding someone’s orientation, we are limited to understanding their teaching behaviour, but this does not go far enough in terms of unpacking their values and beliefs which also have a bearing on the type of teaching they do.
A constructive conversation may need to take place that enables and encourages shift, slowly and gently at that (Sunal et al. 2001). However, pedagogically, we need to establish how science educators in higher education learnt to teach in the first place. A thorough exploration of teaching tendencies is called for before we nudge scientists towards change. The change itself is often painful and difficult as it demands a move from the impersonal to the personal and is ingrained in a fundamental conceptual shift. For example, those who conceive of teaching and transmitting information to students, also conceive of student learning as information accumulation (Fraser 2015). This is a probable scenario that exists in science education.
 The Magnusson et al. model provides us with a useful starting point through which to consider how science educators conceptualise teaching and learning. Orientations to science teaching encompass knowledge of: science curricula, students’ understanding of science, instructional strategies and assessment of scientific literacy.
Borko, H., & Putnam, R. T. (1996). Learning to teach. In D. C. Berliner & R. C. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 673–708). New York: Macmillan. Fraser, S. P. (2015), Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK): exploring its usefulness for science lecturers in higher education, Research in Science Education, 46, 141-161 Freeman, S., Eddy, S.L., McDonough, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H. and Wenderoth, M.P. (2015), Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering and mathematics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(23), 8410-8415 Friedrichsen, P., & Dana, T. (2005). A substantive-level theory of highly-regarded secondary biology teachers’ science teaching orientations. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42, 218 – 244. Magnusson, S., Krajcik, J., & Borko, H. (1999). Nature, sources and development of pedagogical content knowledge for science teaching. In J. Gess-Newsome & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Examining pedagogical content knowledge (pp. 95 – 132). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer. Prosser, M., Trigwell, K. & Taylor, P. (1994), A phenomenographic study of academics’ conceptions of science learning and teaching, Learning and Instruction, 4, 217-231 Smith, E. L., & Anderson, C. W. (1984). Plants as producers: A case study of elementary science teaching. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 2, 685 – 698. Sunal, D.W., Hodges, J., Sunal, C.S., Whitaker, K.W., Freeman, L.M., Edwards, L., Johnston, R.A. and Odell, M. (2001), Teaching science in higher education: faculty professional developments and barriers to change, School Science and Mathematics, 101(5), 246-257
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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Network 4. Inclusive Education
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