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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Science Teacher Ownership of STL Teaching

Teacher ownership of STL teaching was defined as the phenomenon of adaptation of everyday teaching by the teacher, accordingly to the STL philosophy. A major factor illustrating effectiveness of teacher –developed STL materials was teacher ownership of STL teaching, as expressed in terms of the ability to develop consequence maps. Based on the structure of consequence maps three categories of teachers were described against the level of STL ownership:

Subject learning activity based teachers (5 of the 20 teachers) put continued emphases on facts and concepts, encouraged by the examination system. They placed dominance in assessing subject knowledge, even in socially related test items. They did not express the value of collaboration during the pre-intervention interview for the intervention. Supplementary teaching materials developed by them carried a strong science content, including applications as add-ons.

Sequence activity based teachers (6 teachers) were a very mobile group of teachers. Although the teachers finally belonged to this group, this stage was passed by a number of other teachers during the workshops. These teachers approached problem-solving situations overwhelmingly using scientific method. There was a strong component of practical work in their teaching materials and in the consequence maps.

Social issue based teachers (9 teachers) put emphases on problem-solving and decision-making, and sometimes value judgments were included in the teaching materials. This group of teachers developed well structured consequence maps and showed competency in assessing students against STL criteria. Social communication was seen as the biggest value during the intervention.

Irrespective of the type of ownership most teachers, during the intervention, developed a more advanced perception regarding their role as facilitators of learning. The teachers increased their confidence to teach science (chemistry) in a student centred manner. They appreciated the students’ motivational feedback, collected through the essay type answers after lessons where the materials developed by the teacher, were used.

The teachers, however, did not recognise their growth in curriculum related knowledge and skills, as their marking scheme (even though it had changed) still gave high emphasis to the role of subject knowledge. The fact that students’ essays were more developed than in the pre-test was not recorded by teachers. (Teachers were not familiar with strategies for assessing essays. Essays were marked against subject knowledge). On the other hand, teachers had a deep interest in the marking scheme used by the principal investigator and showed their interest in wishing to analyse their student’s responses again. All teachers agreed with the increased students’ achievement in the problem-solving and decision-making areas and, through that, were able to recognise their change:

“I did not think that I was teaching so differently. I just did my usual work and used STL materials and ideas. Maybe I really have changed. Maybe I was using approaches without acknowledging that I was using more problem-solving examples in my teaching. …….. But I agree that when I look again at the test, and if I had marked the test against these criteria – many students did better. But a lot of that is not in the final examination……. “

Besides the “hidden” change, teachers acknowledged their achievements in non-subject areas.

Most teachers saw the greatest contribution of the intervention in the domains of teamwork, wider pedagogical knowledge and interdisciplinary knowledge. As all teachers involved in the study were teaching chemistry only, the need for wider interdisciplinary knowledge in solving daily life related situations become crucial. Many teachers promised to collect additional information during the summer to make the teaching material they had developed more justified. The process of developing teaching materials raised teacher interest in publishing them. Here again, the value of team work was highlighted and the need for looking through and discussing together all the developed materials. The idea of the teacher as a researcher was acknowledged.

Here I have described more precisely how ownership on teaching STL was formed as result of 6 month intervention. Ten month later, as well 3 years later, conducted observation and interview showed that all 16 teachers (4 dropped out for different reasons) kept ownership on STL, expressed in terms of using socially derived scenarios in their teaching. Seven teachers, from the 9 who initially had reached to the highest level of ownership, were still collaborating between each other and exchanging teaching ideas in terms of consequence maps. The lower two categories of teachers were approaching to each other and, after 3 years, it was not possible to separate the different categories of ownership. We can conclude that the most important aspect for STL ownership was acknowledgement of socio-scientific decision making in the classroom and the skill to express this process in the consequence maps by teachers.


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