Learning to teach science: Personal epistemologies, teaching goals, and practices of teaching

Feb. 15, 2008

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 24, Issue 2, February 2008, Pages 478-498

The purpose of this study was to understand what personal epistemologies and science teaching goals preservice secondary science teachers of a teacher education program in the USA bring with them to their learning to teach and how they translate such beliefs into actions. A set of essay questions, developed through a pilot study, was used to identify preservice teachers’ personal epistemologies and teaching goals at the beginning of science methods instruction.

Classroom observation reports, video recorded teaching episodes, lesson plans and self-video reflections were collected to identify connections between their epistemologies, teaching goals, and practice of teaching. Relational and ontological dimensions of epistemological beliefs were found to be useful for understanding preservice teachers’ personal epistemologies and teaching practices. The data suggests that the participants’ espoused teaching goals were relevant to their personal epistemologies when differentiating naïve personal epistemologies from the sophisticated, and their emerging teaching practices demonstrated shifts in personal epistemologies and potential for further development in teaching practices.

Findings indicate sources of how teaching practices are shaped. Implications for teacher education include needs for addressing ways to deal with teaching constraints for constructivist teaching approaches, collaboration with content course instructors, critical reflection on field experience, and developing induction programs that support continuing development of emerging teaching practices.

Updated: Apr. 08, 2008