Research in Science Education

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 97–120

A Study of Students' Focal Awareness when Studying Science Stories Designed for Fostering Understanding of the Nature of Science

  • Ping-Kee Tao
Article

Abstract

Using Marton's theory of the structure of awareness as a theoretical framework, this study investigated the aspects that students discerned and brought into their focal awareness while they studied four science stories in an instruction designed for fostering understanding of the nature of science (NOS). The data showed that when students studied the stories many focused only on one or two aspects, from among a range, presented in the stories. Further, the aspects of the stories in the students' focal awareness were closely linked to the views of NOS that they developed subsequent to the instruction. Students who focused on certain appropriate aspects acquired adequate views of NOS while those who focused on other aspects acquired inadequate views of NOS. The theory therefore offers a viable explanation for why students often construct idiosyncratic meanings from learning experiences that differ from those intended – by attributing it to students attending to certain aspects rather than others. However, the data also show that students' prior conceptions strongly influence their construction of meanings from the learning experiences. The complementarity of the theory of the structure of awareness and the constructivist view of learning are considered. Implications for classroom practices are discussed.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bowden, J. & Marton, F. (1998). The university of learning: Beyond quality and competence in higher education. London: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
  2. Carmichael, P., Driver, R., Holding, B., Phillips, I., Twigger, D., & Watts, M. (1990). Research on students' conceptions in science: A bibliography. Leeds, UK: Centre for Studies in Science & Mathematics Education, University of Leeds.Google Scholar
  3. Crook, C. (1994). Computers and the collaborative experiences of learning. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Damon, W. & Phelps, E. (1989). Critical distinction among three approaches to peer education. International Journal of Educational Research, 13, 9-19.Google Scholar
  5. Driver, R., Squires, A., Rushworth, P., & Wood-Robinson, V. (Eds.). (1994). Making sense of secondary science: Research into children's ideas. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Marton, F. (1981). Phenomenography-describing conceptions of the world around us. Instructional Science, 10, 177-200.Google Scholar
  7. Marton, F. (1988). Describing and improving learning. In R. R. Schmeck (Ed.), Learning strategies and learning styles (pp. 53-82). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  8. Marton, F. (1998). Towards a theory of quality in higher education. In B. Dart & G. Boulton-Lewis (Eds.), Teaching and learning in higher education (pp. 177-200). Melbourne: ACER.Google Scholar
  9. Marton, F. & Booth, S. (1997). Learning and awareness. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  10. Pfundt, H. & Duit, R. (1994). Bibliography: Students' alternative frameworks and science education (4th ed.). Kiel, Federal Republic of Germany: IPN.Google Scholar
  11. Solomon, J. (1991). Exploring the nature of science. Glasgow: Blackie.Google Scholar
  12. Solomon, J., Duveen, J., Scott, L., & McCarthy, S. (1992). Teaching about the nature of science through history: Action research in the classroom. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 29(4), 409-421.Google Scholar
  13. Solomon, J., Scott, L., & Duveen, J. (1996). Large-scale exploration of pupils' understanding of the nature of science. Science Education, 80(5), 493-508.Google Scholar
  14. Tao, P. K. (in press). Eliciting and developing junior secondary students' understanding of the nature of science through a peer collaboration instruction in science stories. International Journal of Science Education. Google Scholar
  15. Tao, P. K., Yung, H. W., Wong, C. K., Or, C. K., & Wong, A. C. K. (2000). Living science. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Tobin, K. (1993). The practice of constructivism in science education. Washington, DC: American Association for Advancement of Science Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ping-Kee Tao
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Hong KongHong Kong

Personalised recommendations