Teaching Secondary Science in Rural and Remote Schools: Exploring the Critical Role of a Professional Learning Community

  • Debra Panizzon


Much of the literature around rural education highlights broader issues and challenges faced by teachers in rural and remote secondary schools with little emphasis on the detail of teacher pedagogical knowledge and classroom practice that might be specific to these very different contexts. This is a serious oversight in country like Australia and Canada where the first teaching position for many graduates may be in small rural schools with few “experienced” mentors in their discipline areas. This is most particularly the case in fields such as the physical sciences. While the key components of quality teaching are relevant regardless of context, it is the way in which teachers apply, develop and implement their pedagogical knowledge to meet the needs of particular students that becomes the real craft of teaching. This chapter explores challenges likely to be confronted by secondary science teachers in rural/remote schools in Australia, and pedagogies and practices that are appropriate responses to these challenges. These challenges include engaging students in small senior classes, multigrade teaching, benchmarking practices that enhance student learning, maintaining academic standards (particularly in senior classes), and using contexts to teach science that are relevant to students and meet curriculum requirements. The implications of these experiences are considered in relation to preservice and inservice teacher education.


Science Teacher Pedagogical Content Knowledge Professional Learning Teacher Knowledge Pedagogical Knowledge 
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.



Appreciation is extended to Professor John Pegg, Ms Teresa Wright, and Dr Bruce Cameron for their insights and views about teaching in rural and remote schools that significantly helped in the formulation of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Flinders Centre for Science Education in the 21st CenturyFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

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