Research in Science Education

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 551–565 | Cite as

Primary Connections: Simulating the Classroom in Initial Teacher Education

  • Anne Christine HumeEmail author


The challenge of preparing novice primary teachers for teaching in an educational environment, where science education has low status and many teachers have limited science content knowledge and lack the confidence to teach science, is great. This paper reports on an innovation involving a sustained simulation in an undergraduate science education course as a mediational tool to connect two communities of practice—initial teacher education and expert primary science teaching. The course lecturer and student teachers role-played the expert classroom teacher and primary students (Years 7/8) respectively in an attempt to gain insights into teaching and learning through authentic activity that models good practice in primary science teaching and learning. Activity theory was used to help frame and analyse the data. Findings from the first trial indicate that the simulation was very effective in initiating science pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) development of primary student teachers.


Primary science teacher education PCK Activity theory Simulation as a meditational tool 


  1. Australian Academy of Science. (2005). Primary connections. Stage 2 trial: Research report. Canberra: Australian Academy of Science.Google Scholar
  2. Bell, J. (1999). Doing your research project. Berkshire: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, J., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1980). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32–42.Google Scholar
  4. Bryman, A. (2008). Social research methods (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University.Google Scholar
  5. Bybee, R. W. (1997). Achieving scientific literacy: from purposes to practices. Portsmouth: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  6. Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrision, K. (2007). Research methods in education (6th ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Creswell, J. W. (2005). Educational research. Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. New Jersey: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  8. Engeström, Y. (1999). Activity theory and individual and social transformation. In Y. Engeström, R. Miettinin, & R. Punamäki (Eds.), Perspectives on activity theory (pp. 19–38). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Erikson, F. (1998). Qualitative research methods for science education. In B. J. Fraser & K. G. Tobin (Eds.), International handbook of science education (pp. 1155–1174). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  10. Girod, M., & Girod, G. (2006). Exploring the efficacy of the Cook School District simulation. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(5), 481–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Grossman, P. L. (1990). Making of a teacher: teacher knowledge and teacher education. New York: Teachers College.Google Scholar
  12. Guba, E., & Lincoln, Y. (1989). Fourth generation evaluation. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  13. Hipkins, R., & Bolstad, R. (2008). Seeing yourself in science. The importance of the middle school years. Wellington: NZCER.Google Scholar
  14. Hung, D., Tan, S., & Koh, T. (2006). From traditional to constructivist epistemologies: a proposed theoretical framework based on activity theory for learning communities. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 17(1), 37–55.Google Scholar
  15. Keeves, J. P. (1998). Methods and processes in research in science education. In B. Fraser & K. Tobin (Eds.), International handbook of science education (pp. 1127–1153). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  16. Kenny, J. (2010). Preparing pre-service primary teachers to teach primary science: a partnership-based approach. International Journal of Science Education, 32(10), 1267–1288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Leach, J., & Scott, P. (2003). Individual and sociocultural views of learning in science education. Science & Education, 12, 91–113. education.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Loughran, J., Mulhall, P., & Berry, A. (2008). Exploring pedagogical content knowledge in science teacher education. International Journal of Science Education, 30(10), 1301–1320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lloyd, J. K., Smith, R. G., Fay, C. L., Khang, G. N., Wah, L. L. K., & Sai, C. L. (1998). Subject knowledge for science teaching at primary level: a comparison of pre-service teachers in England and Singapore. Internationl Journal of Science Education, 20(5), 521–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Magnusson, S., Krajcik, J., & Borko, H. (1999). Nature, sources, and development of pedagogical content knowledge for science teaching. In J. Gess-Newsome & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Examining pedagogical content knowledge: the construct and its implications for science education (pp. 95–132). Boston: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  22. Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media.Google Scholar
  23. Moon, J. A. (1999). Learning journals. A handbook for academics, students and professional development. London: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
  24. Nilsson, P. (2008). Teaching for understanding: the complex nature of pedagogical content knowledge in pre-service education. International Journal of Science Education, 30(10), 1281–1299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nilsson, P., & van Driel, J. (2010). How will we understand what we teach?—Primary student teachers’ perceptions of their development of knowledge and attitudes towards physics. Research in Science Education. doi: 10.1007/s11165-010-9179-0.
  26. Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  27. Putnam, R. T., & Borko, H. (2000). What do new views of knowledge and thinking have to say about research on teacher learning? Educational Researcher, 29(1), 4–15.Google Scholar
  28. Resnick, L. B. (1987). Learning in school and out. Educational Researcher, 19(9), 13–20.Google Scholar
  29. Rice, D. C. (2005). I didn’t know oxygen can boil! What preservice and inservice elementary teachers’ answers to ‘simple’ science questions reveal about their subject matter knowledge. International Journal of Science Education, 27(9), 1059–1082.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Shulman, L. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1–22.Google Scholar
  31. The Royal Society. (2010). Science and mathematics education, 5–14. A ‘state of the nation’ report. London: The Royal Society.Google Scholar
  32. Tytler, R., Osborne, J. F., Williams, G., Tytler, K., & Cripps Clark, J. (2008). Opening up pathways: Engagement in STEM across the primary-secondary school transition. A review of the literature concerning supports and barriers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics engagement at primary-secondary transition. Canberra: Commissioned by the Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations