Teacher Explanations

  • David GeelanEmail author
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 24)


The ways in which science teachers explain science concepts to students are complex and rich phenomena. Science teaching explanations have identifiable features, with some of these features being shared with formal scientific explanations and some with everyday explanations. This chapter reviews the existing research on science teacher explanations, explores research on explanations in chemistry, physics and biology and reviews studies of the role of analogy in explanation. Teleological and anthropomorphic explanations are recognised as having a legitimate role in science teaching, although they are unacceptable in formal science explanations. Several of the studies reviewed also consider how beginning teachers learn, through teacher education and experience, to offer high-quality explanations. Other research indicates that teachers sometimes offer ‘tautological’ explanations or explanations that are flawed in some serious way, and consider remedial approaches. The chapter concludes by arguing that significant further research should be conducted in this under-researched field.


Argument Explanation Nature of science Teacher education Teaching 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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