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Perspectives on designing and evaluating science teaching

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There are increasing numbers of instructional design studies in the science education literature where claims are made about the effectiveness of specific teaching sequences in promoting learning. In such studies, the term teaching sequence is used to describe the sequence of activities presented by teachers to students and the design of each sequence is usually based on a detailed analysis of the scientific content to be taught and research on students' pre-instructional knowledge. Any reported improvements in students' learning is accounted for in terms of changes to the nature or sequence of activities, whilst the role of the teacher in mediating those activities is rarely taken into account. In this paper, we review some of these existing approaches to instructional design and then set out a broader perspective on the design and evaluation of science teaching. This perspective is based upon a social constructivist view of learning, which conceptualizes science teaching in terms of introducing the learner to the social language of school science. We also introduce the concept of learning demand (Leach Scott, 1995) as a tool for informing the design of teaching sequences. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the implications of these perspectives for the design and evaluation of science teaching.

Language: English


Publication date: October 1, 2005

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