Ubiquity Press

The Science Education MA aims to reflect contemporary theory in all aspects of practice in science education: international, formal and informal. Each of the views of science articulated above highlights particular modes of thought that are essential to that view. These views are not mutually exclusive descriptions of science, but rather each stresses particular aspects. Since students need to progress in all aspects, it is useful for teachers to have a clear understanding of each of these components of scientific development, just as they need a clear understanding of the subject matter, the specific science content, that they are teaching. It is also useful at times to focus instruction on development of specific skills, in balance with a focus on the learning of specific facts or the understanding of a particular conceptual framework.

This is a key understanding: science is subject to development and change, yet well-tested and established theories remain true in their tested domain even when dramatic new ideas or knowledge changes the way one views that domain. Such theories are tentative in domains in which they have not yet been tested, or in which only limited data are available, so that the tests are not yet conclusive but are far from tentative in the domains in which they have repeatedly been tested through their use in new scientific inquiries.

In science education, there has been a frequent assumption that development is a kind of inevitable unfolding and that one must simply wait until a child is cognitively ready” for more abstract or theory-based forms of content. In other words, through maturation with age, children will achieve certain cognitive milestones naturally, with little direct intervention from adults. Many science educators and policy makers have assumed that the power and limitations of children’s scientific reasoning at different grade levels could be derived from the stages delineated in the cognitive developmental literature. In this view, developmentally appropriate” education would thus require keeping instruction within these bounds.

The relationship between physics and mathematics is reviewed upgrading the common in physics classes’ perspective of mathematics as a toolkit for physics. The nature of the physics-mathematics relationship is considered along a certain historical path. The triadic hierarchical structure of discipline-culture helps to identify different ways in which mathematics is used in physics and to appreciate its contribution, to recognize the difference between mathematics and physics as disciplines in approaches, values, methods, and forms. We mentioned certain forms of mathematical knowledge important for physics but often missing in school curricula. The geometrical mode of codification of mathematical knowledge is compared with the analytical one in context of teaching school physics and mathematics; their complementarity is exemplified. Teaching may adopt the examples facilitating the claims of the study to reach science literacy and meaningful learning.

Viewing the science classroom as a scientific community akin to communities in professional science is advantageous (although K-8 students are clearly not engaged in professional science). Science advances in large part through interactions among members of research communities as they test new ideas, solicit and provide feedback, articulate and evaluate emerging explanations, develop shared representations and models, and reach consensus. Likewise, participation in scientific practices in the classroom helps students advance their understanding of scientific argumentation and explanations; engage in the construction of scientific evidence, representations, and models; and reflect on how scientific knowledge is constructed.