The Use of Journal Clubs in Science Teacher Education

April 2016

Source: Journal of Science Teacher Education, Volume 27, Issue 3, April 2016, p. 325–347

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study aimed to understand how a journal club, which is used in the science and medical fields to connect theory to practice, could be used in teacher education to reduce the theory–practice gap.

The participants were six science teachers: three preservice and three inservice teachers.

Data were collected through audio recordings of the meetings; semi-structured pre- and post-interviews of the teachers; focus groups; and artifacts (e.g., journal articles, reflective paper, email exchanges, and researcher’s field notes).

The findings suggest that the development of a journal club into a community of practice helps to bridge the theory–practice gap. The authors found that the teachers came together with a shared domain and practice, and the beginnings or a sense of community due to their volunteering to do so.

The authors argue that the journal club incorporated the three characteristics of a community of practice (Wenger, 1998): learning, meaning, and identity. As the participants presented, discussed, and tied the articles they chose to their practice, their initiative to make the journal club a site for learning grew (enterprise), they grew to respect and trust one another (mutuality), and they became more aware of how participation in the journal club helped them to improve their practice (repertoire).
The authors also note that in a journal club like this one, teachers are invited into the world of educational theory: the language, the methods, the context, and analysis that are used to generate theory. The participants felt, in this journal club, they were able to think about teaching in an intellectual way. Intellectual work helped the teachers consider new understandings about teaching.

The authors conclude that through critiquing research studies and discussing what the studies looked like in practice, the teachers became aware that science education research has a purpose and a place in teaching practice. 

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press

Updated: Nov. 11, 2018