Science Teacher Education Partnerships with Schools (STEPS)

  • Andrew GilbertEmail author
  • Sandra Herbert


This chapter describes the background and context surrounding the STEPS project and articulates both the process and goals established at the outset of the research endeavour. The STEPS research responded to a continuing concern regarding primary teachers’ acquisition of scientific understanding, confidence to teach science and persistent questions concerning the effectiveness of traditional approaches to teacher education. STEPS brought together academics from five Australian universities with established, innovative and successful primary science practices involving partnerships between universities and primary schools that engaged pre-service primary teachers in classroom teaching and learning that effectively connected theory with practice. This chapter presents the multiple case-study methodology (Yin in Case-study research: Design and methods, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2009) utilised to examine the experiences of establishing, maintaining and growing these partnerships with each university campus acting as a “site”. Key features and critical success factors required to establish and maintain strong working relationships with schools leading to the development of the interpretive framework are presented.


Partnerships Science teacher education School-based Interpretive framework Primary science Pre-service teachers 


  1. Argyris, C., & Schon, D. (1996). Organizational learning II: Theory, method, and practice. New York: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  2. Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE). (2004). Submission to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the suitability of pre-service teacher training in Victoria. Retrieved from
  3. Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). Teaching quality and student achievement: A review of state policy evidence. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 8(1), 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Darling-Hammond, L. (Ed.). (2005). Professional development schools. Schools for developing a profession. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  5. Darling-Hammond, L. (2006). Constructing 21st century teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(3), 300–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST). (2003). Australia’s teachers: Australia’s future—advancing innovation, science, technology and mathematics. Canberra: ACT, Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training, 7.Google Scholar
  7. Evans, C. A., Abrams, E. D., Rock, B. N., & Spencer, S. L. (2001). Student/scientist partnerships: A teachers’ guide to evaluating the critical components. American Biology Teacher, 63(5), 318–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gilbert, A. (2009). Utilizing science philosophy statements to facilitate K-3 teacher candidate’s development of inquiry-based science practice. Early Childhood Education Journal, 36(5), 431–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Vocational Training. (2007). Top of the class. Report on the inquiry into teacher education. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  11. Houseal, A., Abd-El Khalick, F., & Destefano, L. (2014). The impact of a Student-teacher-scientist partnership on students’ and teachers’ content knowledge, attitude toward science, and pedagogical strategies. Journal of Research in Science Teaching., 51(1), 84–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kenny, J. (2010). Preparing primary teachers to teach primary science: A partnership based approach. International Journal of Science Education, 32(10), 1267–1288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kenny, J. (2012). University-school partnerships: Pre-service and in-service teachers working together to teach primary science. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37(3), 57–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Keys, P. (2005). Are teachers walking the walk or just talking the talk in science education? Teachers and Teaching: Theory and practice, 11(5), 499–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Korthagen, F., Loughran, J., & Russell, T. (2006). Developing fundamental principles for teacher education programs and practices. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22, 1020–1041.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kruger, T., Davies, A., Eckersley, B., Newell, F., & Cherednichenko, B. (2009). Effective and Sustainable University-School Partnerships: Beyond determined efforts by inspired individuals. Canberra: Teaching Australia—Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Limited.Google Scholar
  17. Ledley, T. S., Haddad, N., Lockwood, J., & Brooks, D. (2003). Developing meaningful student-teacher-scientist partnerships. Journal of Geoscience Education, 51(1), 91–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Louden, W. (2008). 101 Damnations: the persistence of criticism and the absence of evidence about teacher education in Australia. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 14(4), 357–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Milne, I. (2010). A sense of wonder, arising from aesthetic experiences, should be the starting point for inquiry in primary science. Science Education International, 21, 102–115.Google Scholar
  20. Moreno, N. (2005). Science education partnerships: Being realistic about meeting expectations. Cell Biology Education, 4(1), 30–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mulholland, J., & Wallace, J. (2003). Crossing borders: learning and teaching primary science in the pre-service to in-service transition. International Journal of Science Education, 25(7), 879–898.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Parliament of Victoria, Education and Training Committee. (2005). Step up, step in, step out. Report on the suitability of pre-service teacher training in Victoria. Melbourne: Victorian Government Printer.
Google Scholar
  23. Peterson, J., & Treagust, D. (2014). School and University partnerships: The role of teacher education institutions and primary schools in the development of preservice teachers’ science teaching efficacy. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(9), 153–167.Google Scholar
  24. Patrick, C.-J., Peach, D., Pocknee, C., Webb, F., Fletcher, M., & Pretto, G. (2008). The WIL [Work Integrated Learning] report: A national scoping study. [Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Final report]. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology. Retrieved from
  25. Rossner, P. & Commins, D. (2012). Defining ‘Enduring Partnerships:’ Can a well-worn path be an effective, sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship? Queensland College of Teachers. Retrieved form:
  26. Ryan, J., Jones, M., & Walta, C. (2012). Creating a sustainable and supportive teaching practicum in rural and regional locations. Australian & International Journal of Rural Education, 22(1), 57–72.Google Scholar
  27. Speldewinde, C.A. (2014). STEPS (Science Teacher Education Partnerships with Schools): Annotated Bibliography. Geelong VIC: Deakin. Available:
  28. Stake, R. (2006). Multiple case study analysis. New York, N.Y.: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  29. Tytler, R., Osbourne, J., Williams, G., Tytler, K., & Cripps Clark, J. (2008). Opening up pathways: Engagements in STEM across the Primary-Secondary school transition. Canberra: DEEWR.Google Scholar
  30. Yin, R. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.George Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Deakin UniversityWarrnamboolAustralia

Personalised recommendations