Effective science teaching and learning - Implications for

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					Effective science teaching and
           learning -
   Implications for teaching

           Russell Tytler
         Deakin University
     A: Research into student

 Findings concerning student conceptions,
  especially for Physics
 The link with constructivist perspectives
 Conceptual change teaching approaches and
  some examples
 Social constructivist perspectives
   B: Wider perspectives on
 teaching and learning science

 Longitudinal research on student attitudes to
  science, over the secondary school years.
 Research into effective teaching and learning
  in science: The SIS Components
 Research into student conceptions
 Students come into our classes with a range of prior
  ideas or conceptions of the physical world. They are not
  „empty vessels‟;
 Many of these conceptions differ in important ways from
  the view of the world scientists have constructed. Many
  are similar to views scientists held in previous eras;
 Students from different countries and cultures have been
  found to have very similar prior ideas. Everyday language
  often supports these views of the world; and
 These conceptions in many cases form useful prior
  knowledge that a teacher can build on. In many
  cases, however, students‟ alternative conceptions have
  proved surprisingly difficult to shift, and can offer a
  serious barrier to effective teaching.
                Some examples
       Students hold theories of motion similar to earlier
    impetus theories, where force is a property of an object
    associated with motion, rather than something that acts
    on them externally
        Students think of the eye as active in „seeing‟ rather
    than as a receptor of light, they think of „light‟ as an
    effect rather than as an entity that travels, and they
    think of color as the property of objects rather than
    dependent on the light environment. They have a range
    of mental models of light.
       Students have a „historical‟ view of substances in
    chemical change, thinking for instance that the ash left
    over from burning paper, is simply the paper but in a
    changed form, or is something that was trapped in the
    paper and is now the residue
 Students have a variety of models of current
  electricity, confusing current with energy in terms of
  what is „used up‟ in devices, or thinking of current as
  coming out both ends of a battery and „clashing‟ to
  cause light in a globe.
 Students believe that heat is a substance, rather than
  a form of energy, and run the concepts of
  temperature and heat together, thinking for instance
  that if a hot cup of coffee is divided, the temperature
  is halved. These views also echo historical theories
 Students have a range of mental models of the earth
  in space, ranging from flatness, to hybrid models
  which combine a spherical earth with an absolute
  sense of „up-down‟. They will continue to believe that
  summer and winter are caused by varying distance of
  the earth from the sun.
 A personal constructivist view of learning:
 Learning involves the construction of meaning. Meanings
  constructed by students from what they see or hear may be
  different to those intended, and are influenced by prior
 The construction of meaning is a continuous and active
  process. Children, from when they are born, struggle to
  construct meaning about their world.
 There are identifiable patterns in the types of
  understandings students construct, due to shared
  experiences with the world, and due to cultural influences
  through language.
 Knowledge promoted in the science classroom is evaluated,
  and may be accepted, accepted in a limited context only, or
 Learners have the final responsibility for their own learning.
Social constructivist perspectives

 Learning is a social or cultural phenomenon,
 Attention is shifted to the social processes operating
  in the classroom by which a teacher promotes a
  discourse community.
 The aim of science or mathematics education
  becomes the establishment within the class of shared
 The teacher represents the very powerful discourses
  of the scientific culture, and scientific ways of viewing
  and dealing with the world.
  Constructivist / Conceptual
 Change teaching approaches
 Lawson‟s „learning cycle‟
 The Generative model
 The interactive approach
 The 5 E‟s model
 Japanese lesson plans

 Most of these models involve exploring and
  challenging students‟ prior ideas
               C/CC approaches
Phase         Description          Example (Peter Hubber)
1.            The teacher          Clarify light concepts eg.
Preparation   clarifies for him or
and           herself the focus Each point on a luminous
planning      of the sequence. object emits light in all
              Materials are
              gathered and         All the light from each point
              activities planned. on an object that passes
                                   through a lens, or reflects
              Assessment is        off a mirror, contributes to
              planned.             the formation of a
                                   corresponding image point.
Phase 2. Exploration and clarification

 What are the students‟ views? The teacher      Post box sample
 introduces activities to probe student         questions:
 conceptions. Questioning is an important tool.
                                                Draw arrows to show
 Examples of exploratory activities:            how light from the sun
                                                helps the student to see
 Cartoons that pose problem situations, such the tree.
 as asking which of a light or a loaded
 skateboard will roll faster down a slope.      Can a cat or owl see a
                                                mouse in a room where
 Scenarios in which students express
                                                there was no light? Why
 different views.
                                                do you think this?
 A round – robin of activities relating to the
 same idea, such as a set of animal skeletons How far does light travels
 or skulls that elicit student ideas about      from a glowbug (a)
 adaptation.                                    During the night? (b)
                                                During the day?
 The teacher clarifies just what the range of
 student views are, and what the differences
 Phase 3. Challenge
Students engage with activities designed to     Experiments:
challenge their intuitive views. Examples:
                                                Can you feel
Predict – observe – explain sequences.         a stare? –
Open exploration of intriguing items such as
a bird feeder, a pendulum, a candle burning
under a glass jar, balance toys.                 Using a
Challenge tasks such as asking students to      darkroom to
light a globe using one wire and a battery       explore: can
                                                 you see in
In „interpretive discussion‟ the teacher ensures total dark ?
all views are considered. It is important not to
force premature closure and to allow students
room to express and explore ideas. The
teacher presents the evidence from the
scientists' view.
Phase 4. Investigation and exploration

    The class tests the        A series of structured
    validity of different      explorations and
    answers, including the     discussions; the eyes
    science view, by           as receptors, ideas
    seeking evidence, or       about dim objects,
    students carry out         lasers shone onto white
    investigations to          paper ….
    explore their questions.
Phase 5. Application and extension

 The science ideas are established and Further
 extended. There may be discussion       activities
 and debate concerning the merits of the
 science view.

Phase 6. Reflection and revisiting

 Students are encouraged to       Discussion of what
 evaluate their learning by       changes had
 comparing their ideas with       occurred in student
 their earlier view and to        views of vision and
 reflect on the strategies they   light.
 used to learn – supporting
              General Principles
 Provide opportunities for students to make their own ideas
  explicit: Use students' own language, give them
  opportunities to share ideas, and encourage clarification of
 Provide experiences which relate to students' prior ideas
  ('start from where students are at'): Encourage students to
  extend their knowledge of phenomena, provide
  opportunities for them to make links between phenomena,
  and provide experiences which challenge their ideas.
 Give opportunities for students to think about experiences:
  Provide opportunities for imaginative thinking, encourage
  reflection on alternative models and theories
 Give opportunities for students to try out new ideas:
  Allow students to gain confidence in trying out new
  ideas in a variety of contexts, both familiar and new.
  Use a variety of teaching/learning strategies.
 Encourage students to reflect on changes to their
  ideas: Encourage students to be aware of advances in
  their thinking and provide opportunities for them to
  identify changes in their ideas
 Provide a supportive learning environment: Encourage
  students to put forward their own ideas and to listen to
  each other. Avoid always creating the impression that
  there is only one 'right answer'.
  The nature of classroom discourse
 Rusting nail task - students had put nails in different
      Teacher.. So - what 1 want to do - put on the board, is perhaps put down
       your ideas of what it was about the places that made your nail go rusty.
       What do you think it was - thinking about the places - that made your nail
       go rusty?...
      Fiona: Condensation might.
      Teacher: Condensation - right [writes it on the chalk board]. Dawn?
       Dawn.. Could it be like - climate like - if it's hot or cold?
      Teacher: Hot or cold. Do some other people think that hot or cold might be
       something significant, in making something go rusty? Hot or cold - is that
       an idea - yeah? Hot. Which? Both of them or just one? Dawn.. Both

      Teacher: Haley's saying perhaps cold.
                     Dialogic discourse
 Is multi-voiced in that it involves a number of different speakers and
  includes references to other students' ideas.

 The teacher invites ideas through open questions and attempts to
   clarify meanings through asking follow-up questions.

 The students make spontaneous contributions to the discourse and
   often articulate their ideas in a tentative, provisional way rather than
   present them as 'finished thoughts'.

 Overlap of contributions, abbreviated utterances and interanimation of
   ideas between teacher and students.

 Ideas are offered and received as 'thinking devices' rather than as
   'fixed truths'.
    Gathering ideas together
   Teacher: Right we've got a lot of things at the top here. Now - what I'd
    like you to do first of all is to look at these suggestions - because - is
    there anything that some of them actually have in common - have we
    actually repeated ourselves with any of the things that we've got on the
    board at the moment? ... Kevin, first of all then - what d'you think we've
    repeated ourselves with? Kevin: Erm -rain, damp         ... then cold.
    Teacher: Rain, damp.
   When Kevin suggests 'rain, damp ... then cold' Lynne ignores 'cold' and
    selects rain and damp'; a number of students call out 'and cold, and
    condensation' and Lynne selects from these responses 'condensation'.
    At this point moisture, condensation, rain, damp, and wet are all
    underlined on the board and Lynne asks what they have in common.
    She is searching for the term 'water'.
   Teacher: ... what have we got in common perhaps with all the things we've
    underlined. What is it Kevin? Kevin: They're all wet.
   Teacher: Well - they're all wet - so what do we mean by wet then? Is there
    something else about wet?
   Students: No - wet [other mutters] Teacher: What is wet perhaps?
   Student: [chorus] Water!! [laughter]
   Teacher: Water? So is that the key thing? Ketan what do you think? Is
    water the key thing here that's linking all of these... Ketan: Yes.
   Teacher: You've said rain, damp, moisture, wet, oh ... condensation and
    what I'm asking you is 'what do you mean by that?' So what is the common
    link perhaps? Ketan: S'all different forms of water.
   Teacher: Water. Yeah? Anyone disagree with that? That sound
    reasonable? OK, so we've all of those things we can link up and say that
    water is important.
       Authoritative discourse
 In this brief sequence the teacher has the clear
  aim of reformulating „condensation', „moisture'
  and the other terms as 'water'. In a bid to
  achieve this aim, the teacher: selects from
  student responses; poses a series of
  instructional questions; initiates a confirmatory
  exchange with a student. Each of these
  interventions … draws heavily upon the
  teacher's authority and it is the teacher who
  dominates the discourse; the students'
  responses tend to be in single words.
Turning students on to Physics
     How do we do this?
     A recent Swedish study
 Britt Lindahl in 2003 completed a longitudinal
  4 year study of student responses to their
  secondary school subjects, from the time they
  finished primary school to when they chose
  their senior subjects.
 She followed 80 students using yearly
  interviews, and questionnaires, and test
 What follows are quotes and paraphrases of
  her findings.
 They are very disappointed the first year at lower
  secondary when they meet science teaching where
  they are supposed to sit still and listen, copy the
  blackboard and fill in stencils.
 As they have little experiences of physics and
  chemistry from lower grades they say they perceive it
  is so new, so strange, so difficult and so serious all at
  once. They compare with other subjects such as
  English and geography which started like a game and
  the difficulties have come gradually.
 As they experience science as difficult, they also
  think they are not good in the subject, and then it
  becomes much more difficult and so on. This can be
  the beginning of a negative spiral between attitudes
  and behaviour which can be difficult to break.
      Student sense of control
 They perceive both physics and chemistry as
  authoritarian subjects with the message “it is like this,
  learn it because it is right, here is nothing to discuss”.
 They also perceive all lessons are so predictable; first
  the teacher talks, then the pupils work. When
  analysing all the interviews it is so obvious to me that
  science teaching has to be more varied. Some pupils
  like one way of working, others like other ways, but
  all dislike doing it the same way all the time.
 Sometimes they all want to discuss, work together in
  groups, and to pose and work with questions from
  their own area of interest. In other words, they want
  to have more influence on their learning like they
  have in other subjects.
   Sense of where physics can be
        used professionally
 Before the interviews in Grade 9, I read all
  transcriptions and the pupils were also allowed listen
  to this part of earlier interviews. Both I and also the
  pupils were very astonished that their dreams from
  Grade 5 or 6 have been more or less repeated every
  year. If so many decide their future so early and
  science is so unfamiliar to them, perhaps it is not
  strange that they do not choose science. Another
  problem is that they do not know very much about
  different professions within science. When talking
  about chemistry most of pupils can only give me two
  reasons for learning it. The first is to get good marks
  and the second is to become a chemistry teacher.
                       Two cases
 Anja .. is always discussing ideas. Her parents are
  scientists and brother and sister too. She has from the
  beginning told me that her dream is to be a doctor, and
  therefore she will choose science for upper secondary
  school. But when I met her in Grade 8, she told me she had
  changed her mind. Her dream was still to be a doctor but
  she could not think of taking science so it would be
  impossible. She hates science and the way it is taught. She
  said she likes to discuss and she wants to learn more about
  human beings, not about dead things.
 Erik is a calm and confident boy. First time I met his class in
  Grade 5, his teacher told me that this boy was one of the
  most brilliant pupils in mathematics he ever had met. His
  next teacher in mathematics told me the same. But Erik‟s
  favorite subjects are history, English and sports. He thinks
  science in school is boring but he likes to watch scientific
  programs on TV.
 It is not the content that is the major problem; it is more
  the way it is presented in school.
 Even the “safe bets” fail. For a long time we have
  known that the girls are critical of science teaching but
  what is clear in this study is that the boys are as critical
  as the girls. The same thing is true of the well educated
  parents‟ children.
 The final finding is about the importance of
  understanding. The pupils complain about not
  understanding but they are referring to another type of
  understanding than the one of formal concepts.
           Some questions
 How do we enlist students to physics?
 How do we provide an environment that is
  responsive to students‟ interests and needs?
 What can we offer students, through Physics,
  that will be of ongoing benefit?
               The SIS components
1. The learning environment encourages active engagement
   with ideas and evidence
2. Students are challenged to develop meaningful
3. Science is linked with students‟ lives and interests
4. Students‟ individual learning needs are catered for
5. Assessment is embedded within the science learning
6. The nature of science is represented in its various aspects
7. The classroom is linked with the broader community
8. Learning technologies are exploited for their learning
            Some critical elements

 1. Encouraging students to actively engage with
  ideas and evidence
    1.1 Students are encouraged and supported to
     express their ideas, and question evidence
    1.2 Student input (questions, ideas and
     expressions of interest) influences the course of
    1.3 Students are encouraged and supported to
     take some responsibility for the design, conduct
     and analysis of science investigations
 2. Challenging students to develop meaningful
      2.3 Students are challenged to develop divergent/lateral
       thinking to respond to science-based problems
 3. Linking science with students’ lives and interests
      Students‟ interests and concerns (eg. Sport and recreation,
       youth media) provide the context for learning science ideas
 4. Catering for individual students’ learning needs
      Teachers monitor and respond strategically to students‟ range of
       abilities and learning needs and preferences
 5. Embedding assessment within the science learning
      5.2 A range of styles of assessment tasks is used to reflect
       different aspects of science and types of understanding
         • 5.2.1 A range of assessment types is used
         • 5.2.2 Different levels of science knowledge are assessed
           (information, comprehension, application)
         • 5.2.3 Different aspects of the nature of science are assessed
           (knowledge, process, technology, social links)
 6. Representing the nature of science in its
  different aspects
      6.1 Science knowledge and investigative
       processes are richly represented
      6.2 Links are made between science, and social
       and personal issues
      6.3 Science ideas and processes are linked to
       technologies and professions
 7. Linking science with the broader community
      Science activities link beyond the classroom
                To sum up
 There are many elements of research that
  call for a richer view of science teaching and
 The findings from this disparate research
  point in quite compatible directions
 If we want to attract students into Physics,
  and support them to learn effectively,
  teachers of Physics need to implement these
  principles from 7-12