Research in Science Education

, Volume 49, Issue 5, pp 1415–1432 | Cite as

Quality Teaching in Science: an Emergent Conceptual Framework

  • J. Zoe JordensEmail author
  • Nick Zepke


Achieving quality in higher education is a complex task involving the interrelationship of many factors. The influence of the teacher is well established and has led to some general principles of good teaching. However, less is known about the extent that specific disciplines influence quality teaching. The purposes of the paper are to investigate how quality teaching is perceived in the sciences and from these perceptions to develop for discussion a framework for teaching practice in the sciences. A New Zealand study explored the views of national teaching excellence award winners in science on quality teaching in undergraduate science. To capture all possible views from this expert panel, a dissensus-recognising Delphi method was used together with sensitising concepts based on complexity and wickedity. The emergent conceptual framework for quality teaching in undergraduate science highlighted areas of consensus and areas where there were a variety of views. About the purposes of science and its knowledge base, there was relative consensus, but there was more variable support for values underpinning science teaching. This highlighted the complex nature of quality teaching in science. The findings suggest that, in addition to general and discipline-specific influences, individual teacher values contribute to an understanding of quality in undergraduate science teaching.


Quality teaching Science Dissensus Delphi Complexity Bernstein 



We thank the members of the expert panel including Gary Bold, Juliet Gerard, Kevin Gould, Judy Magee, Derek Moot and Michael Walker.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This project was reviewed and approved by Massey University Human Ethics Committee Southern B Application 14/01.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of EducationMassey UniversityPrivate Bag 11-222, Palmerston NorthNew Zealand
  2. 2.Institute of Fundamental SciencesMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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