Learning to teach science: Personal epistemologies, teaching goals, and practices of teaching

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<ul><li><p>Teaching and Teacher Education 24</p><p>rsoice</p><p>wa</p><p>tate U</p><p>Received 18 April 2006; received in revised form 10 January 2007; accepted 15 January 2007</p><p>Keywords: Science; Science teacher education; Preservice teacher; Epistemology; Beliefs; Teaching goal</p><p>torted view of science and less opportunities toexperience science as inquiry (Gallagher, 1991).</p><p>ARTICLE IN PRESS</p><p>$Earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2005</p><p>annual meeting of the American Educational Research Associa-</p><p>tion, Montreal, Canada.</p><p>Hence, the current teaching standards in the USAcall for teachers to embrace a social constructivist</p><p>0742-051X/$ - see front matter Published by Elsevier Ltd.</p><p>doi:10.1016/j.tate.2007.01.002</p><p>Tel.: +1 541 737 9891; fax: +1 541 737 1817.E-mail address: kangn@science.oregonstate.edu.1. Introduction</p><p>Many nations around the world have called forreform in science education for more than a decade,sharing some common reform ideals (van Driel,Beijaard, &amp; Verloop, 2001). In particular, the</p><p>reform emphasizes teacher education by promotingsocial constructivist teaching approaches (Garm &amp;Karlsen, 2004; Tobin, 1993). In the USA, nationalstandards for science teaching have been promotedfor successful reform (National Research Council[NRC], 1996). Traditionally, science has beenpresented as a rigid body of facts to be memorized,which consequently provides students with a dis-Abstract</p><p>The purpose of this study was to understand what personal epistemologies and science teaching goals preservice</p><p>secondary science teachers of a teacher education program in the USA bring with them to their learning to teach and how</p><p>they translate such beliefs into actions. A set of essay questions, developed through a pilot study, was used to identify</p><p>preservice teachers personal epistemologies and teaching goals at the beginning of science methods instruction. Classroom</p><p>observation reports, video recorded teaching episodes, lesson plans and self-video reections were collected to identify</p><p>connections between their epistemologies, teaching goals, and practice of teaching. Relational and ontological dimensions</p><p>of epistemological beliefs were found to be useful for understanding preservice teachers personal epistemologies and</p><p>teaching practices. The data suggests that the participants espoused teaching goals were relevant to their personal</p><p>epistemologies when differentiating nave personal epistemologies from the sophisticated, and their emerging teaching</p><p>practices demonstrated shifts in personal epistemologies and potential for further development in teaching practices.</p><p>Findings indicate sources of how teaching practices are shaped. Implications for teacher education include needs for</p><p>addressing ways to deal with teaching constraints for constructivist teaching approaches, collaboration with content course</p><p>instructors, critical reection on eld experience, and developing induction programs that support continuing development</p><p>of emerging teaching practices.</p><p>Published by Elsevier Ltd.Learning to teach science: Pegoals, and pract</p><p>Nam-H</p><p>Department of Science and Mathematics Education, Oregon S(2008) 478498</p><p>nal epistemologies, teachings of teaching$</p><p>Kang</p><p>niversity, 239 Weniger Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331-6508, USA</p><p>www.elsevier.com/locate/tate</p></li><li><p>ARTICLE IN PRESSN.-H. Kang / Teaching and Teacher Education 24 (2008) 478498 479view of learning and teaching in which science isdescribed as a way of knowing about naturalphenomena and science teaching as facilitation ofstudent learning through science inquiry (NRC,1996).Learning about the current views of science and</p><p>science learning and being able to meet the currentteaching standards are challenging projects forpreservice teachers. Preservice teachers themselvesare the products of traditional science education(Lortie, 1975; Wilson &amp; Ball, 1996) that has failed toadequately describe the epistemic base and thenature of knowledge in science (e.g., Tobin &amp;McRobbie, 1996). Research studies in the USAreport preservice science teachers epistemologicalbeliefs and beliefs about teaching (Lemberger,Hewson, &amp; Park, 1999; Palmquist &amp; Finley, 1997).According to these studies, preservice secondaryscience teachers begin their teacher educationprograms with a traditional view of science andscience learning and rarely come out of the initialteacher education program with the knowledge andbeliefs that reect the current views of science andscience learning promoted in recent science educa-tion reform.The term epistemological beliefs has been used</p><p>widely to refer to personal beliefs about the natureof knowledge and how humans develop knowledge(Hofer &amp; Pintrich, 2002). Although numerous termshave been used in research on epistemologicalbeliefs, the term personal epistemology is usedthroughout this paper to refer to individuals beliefsabout the nature of knowledge and knowing (seeSchraw and Olafson (2002) for further discussion onvarying terms and their meanings).Much has been studied about epistemological</p><p>beliefs in education to examine the assumption thatepistemological beliefs are closely related to howstudents learn. A body of research has accumu-lated evidence of numerous links between episte-mological beliefs and student learning in thatstudents epistemological beliefs are connected tolearning approaches and outcomes (Hammer, 1994;Hofer &amp; Pintrich, 1997; Songer &amp; Linn, 1991;Windschitl &amp; Andre, 1998). On the other hand,teachers epistemological beliefs and their connec-tion to teaching practices are understudied (Hofer,2001; Schraw &amp; Olafson, 2002). Given the connec-tions between epistemological beliefs and learningoutcomes, and the current reform emphasis onsocial constructivist teaching approaches, it is</p><p>essential to understand how teachers epistemologi-cal beliefs are related to various aspects of teachingpractices.Research on teachers epistemological beliefs has</p><p>compared the epistemological perspectives con-veyed in traditional teaching approaches with thosein constructivist approaches (Hashweh, 1996;Schoenfeld, 1998; Tobin &amp; McRobbie, 1996). Thesestudies present possible connections between tea-chers personal epistemologies and teaching prac-tices. In particular, a few studies demonstrate thatteachers epistemological beliefs are related to theirteaching goals in that the goal of preparing studentsfor tests or mastery of factual knowledge convey tostudents epistemological beliefs that could impedemeaningful learning and gaining adequate views ofscience (Kang &amp; Wallace, 2005; Schoenfeld, 1988).Findings indicate that teachers different goals forteaching orient their thinking about teaching andinstructional actions (Grossman, 1990; Kang &amp;Wallace, 2005). In particular, Kang and Wallace(2005) found that teachers epistemological beliefswere closely connected to their pedagogical ap-proaches to achieve different teaching goals. Giventhe initial ndings about connections betweenteachers epistemological beliefs and teaching goalsand practices, it is essential to understand howteachers develop personal epistemologies through-out their professional development from initialtraining in the university to continuing professionaldevelopment on the job.This study, therefore, focused on identifying</p><p>possible connections among teaching goals, episte-mological beliefs, and teaching actions during theinitial teacher training. The purpose of this studywas to understand what personal epistemologiesand science teaching goals preservice secondaryscience teachers of a teacher education program inthe USA bring with them to their learning to teachand how they translate such beliefs into actions.Results of this study would offer ways to assistpreservice teachers in developing reform-based ideasabout science teaching and learning as well asteaching practices.</p><p>2. Personal epistemology</p><p>Perrys (1970/1998) seminal work on collegestudents epistemic development introduces a seriesof different epistemological perspectives. His re-search team interviewed students of Harvard Uni-versity throughout their college years and identied</p><p>that the college students moved through some</p></li><li><p>ARTICLE IN PRESSN.-H. Kang / Teaching and Teacher Education 24 (2008) 478498480sequences in their ideas about knowledge andknowing. Perrys initial work identied nine posi-tions of epistemic development that were subse-quently categorized into four major perspectives:dualism, multiplism, relativism, and commitmentwithin relativism (Moore, 2002). A dualist has themost nave beliefs seeing knowledge as right orwrong and truth as knowable. Dualists in Perrysstudy eventually modied their beliefs into multip-lism, as they went through college education, byacknowledging possibilities of uncertainty andmultiple perspectives or truths. Relativists, on theother hand, not only recognized multiple viewpoints, but also saw conicting views as equallyvalid, and the concept of truth became meaningless.Some students developed further from relativism bycommitting themselves to a certain viewpoint asthey recognized some views were better than othersin context.Perrys scheme is in alignment with the discussion</p><p>in the philosophy of science that addresses theepistemology of science. Modern philosophers ofscience challenge the traditional view of science, i.e.,science is based on facts that are directly establishedby unprejudiced use of senses rather than opinions(Chalmers, 1999; Kuhn, 1996; Lakatos &amp;Musgrave,1970; Losee, 1972). The traditional view of sciencepromotes dualism in Perrys scheme in that scienceis depicted as a body of knowledge that reects thenature as it is and hence, is accepted as truth.Through careful examinations of scientists at work,modern philosophers of science provide evidencethat scientic observations are theory dependent.Therefore, facts are fallible and science is notnecessarily right or wrong. Two observers do nothave the same perceptual experiences; rather, theirperceptions depend on their past experience, knowl-edge and expectations. Therefore, philosophers ofscience have refuted dualism in the view of scienceand have promoted more sophisticated epistemolo-gical perspectives. People with more sophisticatedepistemological beliefs about science reject theobjective truth, recognize multiple realities andconsider science knowledge as human construction.These sophisticated epistemological perspectives arepromoted in the US science education reformdocuments as both learning goals and teachingapproaches (NRC, 1996).Whereas Perrys scheme describes developmental</p><p>changes in epistemological beliefs in one dimension,recent research in educational psychology suggests</p><p>dimensionality in epistemological beliefs (Hofer,2000; Schommer, 1990). Research evidence illus-trates beliefs as a system of several dimensions, andhence, it is expected that individuals can hold sets ofindependent beliefs that do not necessarily developin synchrony (Pajares, 1992). Based on the literaturein both educational psychology (Hofer, 2004;Schommer, Calvert, Gariglietti, &amp; Bajaj, 1997)and science education (Bartholomew, Osborne, &amp;Patcliffe, 2004; Kang &amp; Wallace, 2005; Kirschner,1992), this study adopted a view of multipledimensions of epistemological beliefs to understandpreservice science teachers personal epistemologiesand their learning to teach. In particular, thedimensions of certainty and simplicity of knowl-edge, drawn from Perrys scheme (Schommer,1990), were focused in this study because they areclosely related to the current view of sciencepromoted in the US reform documents. On thecertainty dimension, a learner may take a positionon a continuum between two extremes: scienticknowledge is a certain and xed entity or a tentativeand evolving construct. On the simplicity dimen-sion, on the other hand, a learner may take aposition on a continuum between two extremes:science as a collection of pieces of information orscience as a network of concepts.In addition to the two dimensions, relational</p><p>dimension is also included in this study. WhereasPerrys work was limited to males from an eliteinstitution, Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, andTarule (1986) focused on females from diversebackgrounds. By focusing on how women gainknowledge in various social positions, these re-searchers broadened the scope of personal episte-mology to sociocultural aspects of knowing. Theyidentied various perceptions of the role of theknower in knowledge construction and hence,added a new dimension to the personal epistemol-ogyrelationship between the knower and theknown. In their study, women moved from a viewthat knowledge resides in external authority, i.e.,outside the self to a view that knowledge is activelyconstructed by the knower through interactionswith the environment or reciprocal understandingwith others. Therefore, the role of the knowerchanges from passive listener or spectator (receivedknowing) to an active constructor of meaning(connected knowing). The inclusion of this rela-tional aspect of personal epistemology is directlyconnected to the current promotion of socialconstructivist teaching approaches that preservice</p><p>science teachers are required to learn.</p></li><li><p>ARTICLE IN PRESSN.-H. Kang / Teaching and Teacher Education 24 (2008) 478498 481The literature alludes that teachers personalepistemologies are relevant to teaching actions. Ina survey study, Hashweh (1996) found that teachersprofessed epistemological beliefs were consistentwith their preferred teaching strategies. In aninterview study, Yerrick, Parke, and Nugent(1997) also found that the teachers views of sciencewere consistent with their instructional choices interms of content, instructional strategies, andassessment methods. Given these ndings aboutthe possible connection between personal epistemol-ogies and teaching actions, further research on howteachers translate their personal epistemologies intoteaching actions will provide a deeper understand-ing of classroom teaching actions and guidance toteacher education programs.</p><p>3. Goals in science education</p><p>Developing scientic literacy for all students isthe primary goal for science education in the currentscience education reform in many countries (Millar&amp; Osborne, 1998; NRC, 1996; van Driel et al.,2001). The US National Science Education Stan-dards (NRC, 1996) identify that scientic literacyenables people to use scientic principles andprocesses in making personal decisions and toparticipate in discussions of scientic issues thataffect society (p. ix). In achieving this goal, the USstandards call for signicant changes in teachersknowledge and beliefs and instructional goals andpractices. Teachers are asked to teach contemporaryviews of science and help students develop deeperunderstanding of concepts and scientic inquiryskills that foster critical thinking skills. For thosechanges, teachers should have sophisticated episte-mological beliefs about science and adopt socialconstructivist teaching approaches (NRC, 1996).In order to support teachers to teach to the</p><p>reform goals, the US researchers have examinedteachers existing teaching practices and theirc...</p></li></ul>