Critical Elements for the Science Teacher to Adopt a Student-centered Approach: The Case of a Teacher in Transition

Jun. 15, 2008

Source: Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, Volume 14, Issue 3 June 2008 , pages 209 – 224

Much research has been done and reform is suggested relating to teachers' implementation of student-oriented learning environments, yet research on the role, beliefs, pedagogy, and knowledge of teachers simultaneously in classroom environments has been minimal (Kyle, 1994, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31, 785-786). This case study reports on a teacher's perceptions, epistemology, and understandings of student-oriented learning environments during a large project in which teachers from Grades 7 to 11 implemented an interactive-constructivist approach in place of a traditional teacher-oriented approach.

In-depth analysis of data revealed that the participant teacher's perspective of a student-centered science learning environment concerned the following: understanding of students' prior knowledge, the importance and challenges of questioning, the teacher's conceptual understanding of topics and unit preparation before and during the implementation, and the teacher's motivation and problems in moving toward such an environment. There was consistency between the emerging themes and the crucial components of Simon's Mathematics Teaching Cycle model, such as the teacher's conceptual and pedagogical knowledge, hypothetical learning trajectory, and the teacher's beliefs and teaching practice as argued by Haney, Czerniak, and Lumpe (1996, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 33(9), 971-993) and van Driel, Beijaard, and Verloop (2001, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(2), 137-158). Further, findings of this study would help teacher education and reform planners to conduct more comprehensive studies on teachers' perceptions about inquiry-based teaching over the course of several years of inservice and preservice programs.

Updated: Nov. 23, 2008