Research in Science Education

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 31–40 | Cite as

Teaching science in primary schools: What knowledge do teachers need?

  • Robyn Baker


Several reviews on science education have lamented the lack of content knowledge of primary teachers and implied that improvements in this area would lead to better teaching and learning. Subject knowledge, however is a complex issue. What knowledge is required and how much? There is knowledge of the ‘content’ and the ‘processes’ of science. An elusive but essential third component has been described as syntactic (Grossman, Wilson & Shulman, 1989), experiential (Burnard, 1986) or personal knowledge. This paper argues that it is unrealistic to consider the implementation of pre-service primary science courses that will provide potential teachers with all the ‘knowledge’ that they will require to be an effective teacher of science. Science educators, can however, provide effective frameworks from which pre-service students can identify and develop their existing knowledge. If teachers of science have their knowledge of science set within a personal view of science the potential exists for their school science programs to be more comprehensive, dynamic, relevant and contemporary. One perspective that could provide this framework is that offered by ‘Science, Technology and Society’ (S-T-S).


Primary School Science Education Content Knowledge School Science Complex Issue 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Australasian Science Education Research Association 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robyn Baker
    • 1
  1. 1.Wellington College of EducationWellingtonNew Zealand

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