A Community College Instructor’s Reflective Journey Toward Developing Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Nature of Science in a Non-majors Undergraduate Biology Course

Abstract

Research supports an explicit-reflective approach to teaching about nature of science (NOS), but little is reported on teachers’ journeys as they attempt to integrate NOS into everyday lessons. This participatory action research paper reports the challenges and successes encountered by an in-service teacher, Sarah, implementing NOS for the first time throughout four units of a community college biology course (genetics, molecular biology, evolution, and ecology). Through the action research cycles of planning, implementing, and reflecting, Sarah identified areas of challenge and success. This paper reports emergent themes that assisted her in successfully embedding NOS within the science content. Data include weekly lesson plans and pre/post reflective journaling before and after each lesson of this lecture/lab combination class that met twice a week. This course was taught back to back semesters, and this study is based on the results of a year-long process. Developing pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) for NOS involves coming to understand the overlaps and connections between NOS, other science subject matter, pedagogical strategies, and student learning. Sarah found that through action research she was able to grow and assimilate her understanding of NOS within the biology content she was teaching. A shift in orientation toward teaching products of science to teaching science processes was a necessary shift for NOS pedagogical success. This process enabled Sarah’s development of PCK for NOS. As a practical example of putting research-based instructional recommendations into practice, this study may be very useful for other teachers who are learning to teach NOS.

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Correspondence to Sarah J. Krajewski.

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Krajewski, S.J., Schwartz, R. A Community College Instructor’s Reflective Journey Toward Developing Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Nature of Science in a Non-majors Undergraduate Biology Course. J Sci Teacher Educ 25, 543–566 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10972-014-9390-3

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Keywords

  • Nature of science
  • Pedagogical content knowledge
  • Action research
  • Community college
  • Science education