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Science teachers teaching outside of subject specialism: challenges, strategies adopted and implications for initial teacher education

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This article reports a research study that investigated, through semi-structured interviews, the perceptions of a range of 18 science teachers, including trainee teachers, of teaching outside their main subject specialism. In particular, the aim was to understand the issues and challenges science teachers face in teaching outside their subject specialism, to investigate the expertise experienced teachers, working in their school and department contexts, bring to meet these challenges and to understand in what ways and to what extent the trainees' perceptions of these challenges are similar and/or different to those of experienced teachers. Although the findings indicate that the challenges the respondents faced were mostly consistent with previous research, this study demonstrates that such perceptions were very similar regardless of the level of teacher experience. The findings also revealed interesting insights into the strategies the respondents used to overcome the challenges described and highlighted the role of the workplace in teachers' learning how to teach outside their subject specialism, an area where there has been limited research conducted. The article finally considers the implications of the findings for science teacher education.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Oxford University Department of Educational Studies, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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