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ENHANCING PHYSICS TEACHERS’ KNOWLEDGE BASES FOR TEACHING SCIENCE PROCESS SKILLS IN SENIOR SECONDARY PHYSICS IN BOTSWANA Mooketsi V. Lanka University of Capetown
Overview p p p Background/Rationale for the study Purpose of the study Research Questions Theoretical framework Methodology n n n Research approach Data collection methods Data analysis
Background/Rationale for the study p p p The study is contextualized in the teaching of physics at senior secondary level in Botswana Education system in Botswana is guided by the Revised National Policy of Education (RNPE) of 1994 The RNPE of 1994 recommended, among others: § § § Localization of senior secondary curriculum – from Cambridge O’level School Certificate (COSC) to Botswana General Certificate of Education (BGCSE) Recognition of school-based continuous assessment in the final certification at senior secondary level Coursework assessment proposed for the science curriculum to replace timed practical examinations – assessment scheme is based on the assessment of learners’ investigative practical abilities
Background/Rationale for the study § The BGCSE coursework assessment scheme is categorized into four skill areas, each with subsidiary assessment criteria: § § § Skill C 1: Using and organizing techniques, apparatus and materials Skill C 2: Observing, measuring and recording Skill C 4: Interpreting, measuring and evaluating experimental observations and data Skill C 4: Planning, carrying out and evaluating investigations The assessment criteria in these skill areas require learners to show competence in both cognitive and manipulative skills (process skills) – e. g. , observing, classifying, hypothesizing, controlling variables, interpreting, predicting, experimenting, etc. Thus, coursework assessment has increased the emphasis on science process skills, which requires teachers to have the knowledge for engaging learners in learning activities that will facilitate the development of these skills
Backround/Rationale for the study § The emphasis on science process skills or inquiry skills is also well articulated in the BGCSE science syllabi, including the physics syllabus: Science is an experimental discipline and its method of inquiry allows learners to appreciate the practical impact of science on their lives and society as a whole. The Science programme will equip learners with skills that will be of long term value and encourage them to participate in lifelong learning. In the process the learners will exercise their creativity and develop skills such as critical thinking, innovativeness, communication, analysis, observation, recording, drawing conclusions, making judgements, etc. (Ministry of Education, 1997: p. i).
Purpose of the study p p p The purpose of the study is to support physics teachers in their efforts to effectively facilitate process skills development in Botswana senior secondary physics The study aims to enhance physics teachers’ knowledge bases, particularly their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) of integrating science process skills development within their normal classroom teaching The support to teachers will be rendered through: § § The development and validation of an inventory of core indicators or characteristics of effective teaching of science process skills taking into account the socio-economic and cultural context of senior secondary schools in Botswana The development, in collaboration with a selected sample of physics teachers in Botswana, of curriculum materials based on the validated inventory of indicators of effective science process skills teaching
Focus research question: p What are the key indicators that can be used to construct a valid and reliable knowledge base required by physics teachers in Botswana for effective teaching of science process skills in senior secondary physics in Botswana?
Subsidiary research questions: p p p What sources can be used to guide in the design of a draft inventory of key characteristics or indicators of effective teaching of science process skills in senior secondary physics in Botswana? To what extent do physics teachers in Botswana agree with a preliminary questionnaire instrument depicting key indicators of effective teaching of science process skills in senior secondary physics? What changes should be made to the inventory of key indicators of effective teaching of science process skills in Botswana senior secondary physics in light of the responses of the physics teachers to the draft instrument?
Subsidiary research questions: p p What changes should be made to the inventory of key indicators of effective teaching of science process skills in light of the inputs made by other professionals in science education to the draft instrument? What statements should be included in the final version of the inventory of indicators for effective teaching of science process skills in senior secondary physics in Botswana? What are the experiences of physics teachers in Botswana with respect to the use the indicators of science process skills teaching in preparing instructional materials and delivering instruction? What modifications to existing theories of teaching science process skills will be required in the light of the evidence gathered in Botswana?
Theoretical framework p p Literature reveals that science process skills can be promoted through inquiry-based teaching and learning in which learners identify problems and devise procedures for solving them Thus, design frameworks for inquiry-based teaching and learning will be adapted to guide construction of an inventory of key indicators of effective teaching of science process skills Typical design framework for inquiry-based teaching was advanced by Davis & Krajcik (2005), who developed design heuristics for educative science curriculum materials ‘Coordination of cognitive and socio-cultural constructivism’ (Keys & Bryan, 2001) to account for the contextual influences on the enactment of inquiry-based teaching and learning
Design heuristics for educative science curriculum materials (After Davis & Krajcik, 2005) I. Design Heuristics for PCK for Science Topics Design Heuristic 1 – Supporting teachers in engaging students with topic-specific phenomena n. Relates to providing learning experiences that are scientifically and pedagogically appropriate for specific topics. Design Heuristic 2 – Supporting teachers in using scientific instructional representations n. Relates to promoting the use of appropriate instructional representations of scientific phenomena, e. g. , analogies, models, diagrams, etc. Design Heuristic 3 – Supporting teachers in anticipating, understanding, and dealing with students’ ideas about science n. Relates to the need to recognize the importance of students’ ideas and how they can be dealt with.
Design heuristics for educative science curriculum materials (After Davis & Krajcik, 2005) II. Design Heuristics for PCK for Scientific Inquiry Design Heuristic 4 – Supporting teachers with engaging students in questions p. Relates to guiding the formulation of questions that are scientifically and pedagogically productive; helping students pose and answer their own scientific questions. Design Heuristic 5 – Supporting teachers in engaging students with collecting and analyzing data p. Relates to providing guidance of using techniques of data collection, presentation and analysis, and the need to emphasize the importance of evidence in scientific inquiry. Design Heuristic 6 – Supporting teachers in engaging students in designing investigations p. Relates to providing opportunities for students to design their own science investigations and carrying them out.
Design heuristics for educative science curriculum materials (After Davis & Krajcik, 2005) Design Heuristic 7 – Supporting teachers in engaging students in making explanations based on evidence p. Relates to how teachers can support students in interpreting data and providing explanations based on their experimental data and their conceptual understanding Design Heuristic 8 – Supporting teachers in promoting scientific communication p. Relates to promoting communication amongst students and with the teacher through class discussions, presentations, laboratory reports, etc.
Design heuristics for educative science curriculum materials (After Davis & Krajcik, 2005) III. Design Heuristic for Subject Matter Knowledge Design Heuristic 9 – Supporting teachers in the development of subject matter knowledge p. Relates to the role of curriculum materials in supporting the development of teachers’ factual and conceptual knowledge of science content in order for them to be able to explain science concepts to their students.
Relevance of Davis & Krajcik’s (2005) design framework p p p The design heuristics were developed with science as the reference subject area, which is the same for this study as it is concerned with the teaching of physics. The design heuristics highlight key features of curriculum or instructional materials that should enhance the development of teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge for effective teaching. The design heuristics in the category of ‘PCK for disciplinary practices’ focus on promoting authentic representations of a subject, that is, in ways that would reflect the nature of that particular discipline. n The authors noted that “because inquiry is a prevalent idea in science education, we refer to PCK for disciplinary practices in science as PCK for scientific inquiry [sic]” Davis & Krajcik (2005: 6).
Adaptation of the design framework for this study [format adapted from Angell, Ryder & Scott (2005)] Knowledge Bases Categories of Pedagogical Competences Fundamental Influences Subject Matter Knowledge q. Communicating Context p. Specific classroom context p. Socio-cultural context p. Constraints Beliefs p. Views of nature of science p. Views on teaching and learning of science p. Self-efficacy beliefs Curriculum Knowledge Pedagogical Knowledge of Learners the rationale for science process skills q. Creating effective learning environments q. Fostering scientific attitudes q. Planning for and facilitating investigative/inquiry activities q. Promoting techniques for handling scientific information and phenomena q. Diagnosing and evaluating learning q. Managing contextual influences
Research Approach p A development research approach (van den Akker, 1999) will be utilized. According to van den Akker (1999: 5), development research can serve the purposes of: n n p “providing ideas (suggestions and directions) for optimizing the quality of the intervention to be developed” “generating, articulating and testing design principles” Two products will be developed in this study: n n An inventory of core indicators of effective teaching of science process skills in senior secondary physics in Botswana within the boundaries of the socio-economic and cultural context of Botswana senior secondary science education Curriculum materials, in collaboration with a selected sample of physics teachers in Botswana, based on the inventory of indicators for effective teaching of science process skills
Data collection methods p p A preliminary inventory of indicators of effective science process skills teaching will be drafted based on an extensive literature review and analysis of policy documents pertaining to the teaching of physics in the Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) The items of the inventory will be compiled into a questionnaire and validated through a number of phases as may be necessary: n n Pilot study will be conducted with physics teachers from three schools (about 21 teachers) to establish potential ambiguities in the statements Subsequent surveys will be conducted with selected samples of physics teachers to solicit inputs on the relevance and practicality of the statements to the teaching of science process skills in the context of BGCSE physics
Data collection methods n p Consultations with science education experts will also be made to solicit their inputs on the validity of the inventory of indicators Once validity of the inventory has been established, case studies (n=3) will then be conducted: n n n Development of instructional materials, in collaboration with the teachers, based on the validated inventory of indicators Classroom observations will be conducted in which teachers will be trying out the instructional materials for teaching science process skills Interviews will be conducted to gain further insights on the experiences of the physics teachers with using instructional materials for promoting process skills development
Analysis of data p p Two types of data: quantitative data from the surveys and qualitative data from observations and interviews Quantitative data analysis: n n n The quantitative survey data will be checked, verified and coded accordingly in preparation for use with appropriate statistical analysis computer software, e. g. , SPSS or STATISCA. Relevant statistical processes such as frequencies, correlations, etc. , will be applied to the data in order to generate descriptive and inferential information The statistical information will then be interpreted qualitatively, that is, meanings will be attached to the statistical data to describe the judgements of the physics teachers with respect to the component themes of the survey, and eventually draw inferences about the physics teachers’ perceptions about the validity and practicality of the inventory of indicators of science process skills teaching.
Analysis of data p Qualitative data analysis: n n n Qualitative data from observations and interviews will be subjected to the necessary processes of transcription, coding, and categorization prior to analysis Categories for classroom observations will be predetermined by the use of an observation guide Observation notes will be made, whose purpose will be to capture incidents that may not be reflected in the categories of the observation schedule, and also to provide comments to justify the scoring on the observation schedule The observation data will be analyzed to establish the practicality of using the inventory of indicators to support physics teachers in Botswana in facilitating science process skills development in their particular socio-economic and cultural contexts Interviews will be transcribed analyzed to establish the physics teachers’ personal experiences with using the inventory for instructional design and classroom teaching. Since the interviews will be based on observations, their analysis will be conducted with reference to the observation data.
Analysis of data p An in-depth analysis of the focus case studies will be conducted to document the specific experiences of the participant physics teachers with using the inventory of indicators, including their perceptions and professional judgements about how the indicators were helpful in enhancing their knowledge of science process skills teaching and what specific problems they encountered in the process of using the indicators.