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Do we dare to teach physics? - Primary science student teachers´ development of subject matter knowledge and a positive attitude towards physics
Halmstad University, School of Teacher Education (LUT), Research on Education and Learning within the Department of Teacher Education (FULL).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5283-7038
Leiden University Graduate School of Teaching, The Netherlands.
2008 (English)In: Proceedings of ECER 2008, From Teaching to Learning?, Berlin: European Educational Research Association (EERA) , 2008Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

We know from research that primary school teachers have limited science knowledge which results in a low confidence of teaching science (Appleton, 2003, 2005, 2006). We also know that in particular primary teachers hold conceptions about physical phenomena similar to those hold by school children, although expressed in a more sophisticated language (Cochran & Jones, 1998). The low confidence often results in a teaching limited to ‘science activities that work’ (Appleton, 2003) related to science pedagogical content. Further to this, teachers who have little subject matter knowledge have limited options “…especially if they lack confidence to choose activities that work from science topics about which they know little, or to acquire new science content knowledge for themselves” (Appleton, 2005, p. 42). With this in mind, by focusing attention on how student teachers develop subject matter knowledge and positive attitudes as particular aspects of the knowledge base for teaching (Shulman, 1986, 1987), important factors for this development to occur need to be mapped and conceptualized. In 1986 Shulman focused attention on the subject matter knowledge (SMK) by emphasizing that a teacher cannot explain to his/her students the principles underlying physical phenomena if he/she does not explicitly understand them. Subject matter knowledge refers to a teacher’s quantity, quality and organisation of information, conceptualisations and underlying constructs in a given field of science (Zeidler, 2002). Shulman (1986, 1987) argued further that only subject matter knowledge was not enough for teaching. Hence the question of how the subject matter knowledge was to be transformed made him introduce the term pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) as a special amalgam of subject matter knowledge and knowledge of general pedagogy. In the context of primary science teacher education, research has indicated that primary student teachers often experience physics as difficult and abstract resulting in difficulties to transform the content to the students (Author 1, in press). During physics courses the student teachers learn to use laws and formulas, but they do not manage to link these formulas to the everyday phenomena that they are supposed to teach in primary school. Research has also indicated that science knowledge is a significant factor that influences primary teachers´ attitudes towards and confidence in teaching science (Appleton, 2006, Harlen & Holroyd, 1997). There is a relationship between primary teachers´ subject matter knowledge and their attitudes which in turn affects pupils´ understanding and attitudes (Jarvis & Pell, 2006, Osborne & Simon, 1996).

Therefore, the project that underpinned this study aimed to make physics more comprehensible and attractive for primary student teachers so that they become able to teach physics in a stimulating way to young children. Research Questions The following research questions formed the basis from which a research study was constructed to appropriately respond to the overall purpose of the study:

• What factors do primary science student teachers consider as important for their development of subject matter knowledge in physics?

• How do these factors contribute to the student teachers´ development of SMK and a positive attitude towards physics?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berlin: European Educational Research Association (EERA) , 2008.
Keywords [en]
Primary teachers, Attitudes, Physics
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-2713Local ID: 2082/3115OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-2713DiVA, id: diva2:239931
Conference
ECER 2008, From Teaching to Learning?
Available from: 2009-07-06 Created: 2009-07-06 Last updated: 2018-03-23Bibliographically approved

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Nilsson, Pernilla

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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