Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 6, Issue 1, Foreword (Jun., 2005)
Promoting Science Teacher Ownership through STL Teaching
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Research findings

From the pre-intervention interviews with teachers, it appeared that teachers were separating subject knowledge from skills. Skills were linked with students involvement in the learning process, whereas knowledge was given by the teachers’ talk or the textbook. (i.e. ‘to teach general properties of metals’, or ‘skill to write ionic equations using the table of solubility’). In the interview, the teacher’s answers were not organised – most of their answers included fragments from the curriculum content and there was no balance between the subject oriented goals and more general goals (‘to teach logical thinking’, or ‘to understand the world around us’).

Table 1: Stated Goals of Teaching (pre-intervention interview with teachers)

Teacher=20 Number of teachers giving goals in this domain Number of goals given by the 20 teachers Manner in which goals were worded
Focus of goals teacher centred way student centred way
Subject oriented goals
Goals oriented to general skills
Social goals

Table 1 illustrates the focus of goals, where the division is based on the teachers answers and does not cover all possible domains. Social goals were linked mainly with environmental issues; only very few teachers mentioned goals linked to careers, or daily life needs. All teachers who recognised social goals, also emphasised the need to teach general skills in chemistry lessons (‘to develop a responsibility to protect the environment’, or ‘to understand possibilities for linking future life with chemistry’).

The manner in which teachers worded the goals illustrated their actual approach to teaching. The fact that less than 20% of goals were presented (orally in the interviews) in a student centred way was partly based on their understanding of student centred activities. Problem solving and decision making were not seen as components of student centred teaching. Student centred teaching was expressed in terms of solving numerical tasks, doing individual work with the textbook, or conducting an experiment. Communication between students was never highlighted. Problem-solving often appeared as a lower level thinking activity where there was little link with everyday life, if at all.

As Einstein put it, “the formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill” (Penick, 1996). The findings indicate the need for suitable in-service for teachers. “Why” type of problems demand only one certain answer and do not develop the creativity of the learner. Teachers need be taught to look beyond the textbook and recognise wider problems.

After becoming familiar with the STL philosophy and the existing materials, the teachers started developing their own STL materials. The most difficult part was finding an issue or concern coming from the society and formulating it as a scenario – the starting point for STL teaching. Teachers gave mainly examples that illustrated scientific theories and their application. In the process of the development of the scripts, the following observations were noted :


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