Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 8, Issue 1, Article 2 (June, 2007)
Evaluation of pre-service teachers’ images of science teaching in Turkey

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Memorizing facts and information is not the most important skill in today’s world. Facts change, and information is readily available everywhere, especially on the Internet. What’s needed is an understanding of how to get and make sense of information. An old adage states: “Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.”  And, just as it is important to be involved, understand and make sense of information in general, in science teaching, this becomes the essence of the discipline. Thus, many countries revised their education system in the light of constructivist perspective, not a description of teaching and learning and it has been contributed to by a number of significant intellectual movements contextual, dialectical, empirical, information-processing, methodological, moderate, Piagetian, post-epistemological, pragmatic, radical, realist, social, and socio-historical (Turkmen & Pedersen, 2003). In constructivist perspective, students are encouraged to ask their own questions, carry out their own experiments, make their own analogies and come to their own conclusions by teachers (Caprio 1994; Staver, 1998; Yılmaz, & Huyuguzel Cavas 2006)

Turkey is always paying close attention to innovations in education. The majority of Turkish people believe that Turkey can catch up to other developed countries through solid education. For these reasons, the Turkish government is aware of the importance of education and has made great efforts in modernizing the national educational system for the 21st century. The first big step for the Turkish government was to increase the length of compulsory primary schooling from five years to eight years in August, 1997. With the implementation of eight-year compulsory education, the Turkish education system has been completely reorganized and the primary science curriculum (4th- 8th grade) was revised by the Ministry of National Education in 2000 (Ministry of National Education, 2001).

The U.S. and other modern European countries, especially those in European Union (EU), heavily influenced this reconceptualiztion effort (Turkmen, 2006). Turkey continues to shape and to renew her educational system, especially in the areas of learning theories, curriculum development, and educational technology. Some projects have played a larger role in shaping the Turkish education system such as: “Science for All Americans; Project 2061,” “Benchmarks for Science Literacy,” “National Science Education Standards,” “Educational Multimedia Software in the fields of Education and Training,” “Socrates I-II,” and “Erasmus” (Turkmen & Pedersen, 2005). These reforms support the use of student-centered teaching approaches, technology in science classrooms, and the overall integration of educational technology into the Turkish educational system. Therefore, governmental initiatives have made student-centered teaching approaches with technology one of the major foci of educational policies and reforms in Turkey. Moreover, the results of international achievement studies, such as PIRLS, TIMSS, PISA, showed that Turkish 6-8 graders’ performance in math and science are under the average of their peers in other countries. For example, current OECD research, done on two hundred fifty thousand 15 years-old students from 41 countries, showed Turkey is significantly behind many other OECD countries in science and problem solving in math, reading (Elevli, 2004, December 8). According to  TIMMS 1999 reports Turkey was in 33/38 for math and science (TIMSS, 1999), 2003-PISA reports Turkey was in 39/45 for math (Council of the European Union; OECD Program for International Student Assessment, 2004; Ministry of National Education, 2006). Moreover, many national studies showed that in-service science teachers were insufficient to understand what nature of science is, to impact the pedagogy practices of science, to use technology in their class. Some Turkish philosophers and educators blame teacher education programs for inadequate preparation and instruction of elementary school teachers in science (Kaptan, 2005; Unal, Costu, & Karatas, 2004).

By increasing the length of compulsory primary schooling from 5 to 8 years in primary education schools another problem was created, the lack of qualified teachers to meet the needs of the additional students. The Council of Higher Education and the Ministry of National Education co-operated and established the need for teachers in each subject area, which caused the Council of Higher Education to restructure teacher education programs.  The revised programs began in the 1998-99 academic year.  The restructured program is based on three essential concepts, constructivist theory, multiple intelligence theory, and student-centered teaching approaches. In addition, alternative measurement and assessment methods were added to the new teacher education programs. Thus, pre-service teachers began to be more involved with school experience and teaching practice activities (hands-on-activities) (Ministry of National Education, 2000).  Based on these initiatives to restructure teacher education, Turkish education faculties began to modify the teaching and preparation of science in the 2000’s. Moreover, results of international studies were somewhat alarming and provided impetus for urgent action. Thus, Turkey started to revise primary science curriculum again in 2004. Even the name of the “science” course was changed to “science and technology” in primary education. After modification of Turkish primary science curriculum in 2004, the purpose of the science curriculum was widened to include preparing students to be scientifically literate citizens who are able to use scientific facts in their daily life in the light of constructivist perspective.

In this new perspective, students were to be equipped with advanced thinking; perception and problem solving skills; enabling them to contribute to modern civilization as well as mastering their own national culture. Turkish teachers have been educated in and have been encouraged to use other teaching approaches which have as its theory base constructivism and include inquiry and other student empowering methodologies. This purpose of modified science curriculum was evaluated by some Turkish academician. For example, Bozyilmaz and Bagci-Kilic (2005), and Cakir (2005) stated that scientific knowledge was diminished, scientific process skills were increased, and science-technology-society connection was much more focused on into science topics than 2000 reform effort.

In order to evaluate this new teacher education program, many researchers and educators have been studying teaching approaches; especially those linked to constructivism, teachers’ and students’ attitudes towards science, and science curriculum since 2000 (Demircioğlu, Ozmen, & Demircioğlu, 2004; Erdogan, 2005; Stevens, Sarigul, & Deger, 2002; Unal, & Ergin, 2006; Yılmaz, & Huyuguzel Cavas, 2006). While much thought and research has been spent on the teaching science, little has been done to examine students’ perceptions about teaching science in Turkey

The Draw-A-Science-Teacher-Test Checklist (DASTT-C) is one tool that can be used to measure pre-service teachers perceptions of teaching science.  DASTT-C is a modified instrument developed from Goodenough’s original Draw-A Man-Test (1926) and Chambers (1983). Draw-A-Scientist-Test (DAST), which measured children’s perceptions of scientists’.  The original DAST used children’s drawing and assessed the drawings according to seven basic standard image elements and discovered that higher-grade levels of students’ images of scientists become more stereotypical. Schibeci and Sorensen (1983) found similar results in their study. Finson, Beaver, and Crammond, in1995 modified the DAST in order to further consider alternative images and facilitate ease of assessment as the Draw-A-Scientist-Test Checklist (DAST-C). DAST-C data indicated a significant shift from stereotypical images to more realistic images of the variety of persons involved in science as students increased contact with real-life scientists. The DAST-C was further modified and included characteristic of science classrooms and science teachers, calling the instrument the Draw-A-Science-Teacher Teaching Checklist (DASTT-C) by Thomas and Pedersen in 1998 and modified again by Thomas, Pedersen, and Finson (2001). They expected to illuminate the knowledge and beliefs pre-service elementary teachers construct prior to coursework in elementary science teaching methods. The main concept of DASTT-C is a listing of teacher-centered and student-centered attributes of an elementary science teacher rather than a scientist (Carnes, 2003; Carnes, Brown, Munn, & Shull, 2002; Pedersen & Thomas, 1999; Thomas & Pedersen, 1998a-1998b; Thomas, Pedersen & Finson, 2001).  The purpose of this study is to investigate elementary pre-service teachers’ image of science teachers and of science teaching using DASTT-C, analyze the gender differences in those images, and evaluate restructured 2004 education reform via pre-service teachers’ drawings.


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