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Changes in primary teachers' science knowledge and understanding during a two year in-service programme

By Tina Jarvis, Anthony Pell and Frankie McKeon


A test to assess teachers' science knowledge and understanding was developed to monitor change over two years of a primary science in-service programme in 31 schools. Two cohorts took a six-month core course on 'Developing and Assessing Investigations'. The 70 teachers' science understanding was measured by multi-choice and open-ended questions on electricity; melting, dissolving and evaporation; forces; and investigations. Three sub-scales were developed that provide good discrimination. Despite the moves to improve primary teachers' subject knowledge, many still have the typical misconceptions that have been identified in the past. Teachers also had a poor understanding of variables and their control. The analysis of the results has enabled a pattern of development to be identified. While the in-service programme enabled the majority of teachers to progress through these stages, this progress did not always take the teachers to the scientific stage. It was clear that teachers need a thorough understanding of interrelated concepts beyond the requirements of the children's National Curriculum, as without it they may develop misconceptions that might interfere with children's understanding. This indicates that in-service education needs to be sustained over a considerable length of time

Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1080/02635140308341
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/1076
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