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Examining the Beliefs and Practices of Four Effective Australian Primary Science Teachers

Abstract

With trends across many countries still indicating the decline of student interest in school science and diminishing numbers of students studying science beyond the compulsory years, it seems that the field remains in crisis. To address these unfortunate trends, there needs to be a greater emphasis on science education research that highlights the good news stories. For example, what are science teachers actually doing in their classrooms to increase student interest and understanding in science? This article focuses on the science teaching beliefs and practices of four Western Australian primary school teachers. The teachers were nominated by a professional colleague as effective practitioners. The study involved gathering information from classroom observations and teacher interviews to provide background information to assist in developing understandings of these teachers and their science teaching. This article reports on the initial findings drawn from Deanne A, Kate B, Lisa C and Rebecca D. Their practices were organised into the following six categories: classroom environment; conceptual knowledge and procedural skills; teaching strategies and approaches; student-specific considerations; teacher-specific considerations; and context-specific considerations. In examining the components contributing to these categories, it was evident that the teachers’ beliefs, as well as the contextual factors inherent in each classroom environment, influenced how and why they teach science in the ways they do.

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Correspondence to Angela Fitzgerald.

Appendix 1: Teacher Interview Questions

Appendix 1: Teacher Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    What do you think about when you plan science lessons?

  2. 2.

    What do you hope your students will achieve from your science lessons?

  3. 3.

    Describe one of your science lessons that went really well. In what ways was this lesson a success? Why did it go really well?

  4. 4.

    What do you consider to be characteristics of effective science teaching?

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Fitzgerald, A., Dawson, V. & Hackling, M. Examining the Beliefs and Practices of Four Effective Australian Primary Science Teachers. Res Sci Educ 43, 981–1003 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-012-9297-y

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Keywords

  • Effective primary science teachers
  • Effective science teaching practices
  • Primary science education and teacher beliefs