, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 357-375

Science teachers' beliefs about curriculum design

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Teacher beliefs about curriculum design affect the quality of science education in schools, but science researchers know little about the interrelation of beliefs about alternative curriculum designs. This article describes a quantitative study of secondary science teachers' beliefs about curriculum design. A 33-item Science Curriculum Orientation Inventory (SCOI) was developed to measure five distinct orientations to curriculum: academic, cognitive processes, societycentred, humanistic, and technological. Data were collected from 810 integrated science, chemistry, physics, and biology teachers in Hong Kong. A confirmatory factor analysis of teacher responses to the SCOI indicated that science teachers' beliefs about curriculum design had a hierarchical structure; the five distinct curriculum orientations were positively correlated, forming a second-order curriculum, meta-orientation. Physics teachers were less society-oriented than biology, integrated science and chemistry teachers, and integrated science teachers were more humanistic than physics teachers. Although science teachers' beliefs about any of the five alternative curriculum designs did not vary with their teaching experience, the difference between beliefs about the cognitive processes orientation and the humanistic orientation increased when teachers had gained more teaching experience. Implications of these findings are discussed.