Teachers’ and Students’ Conceptions of Good Science Teaching

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Wilfrid Laurier University]On: 13 September 2013, At: 19:59Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>International Journal of ScienceEducationPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tsed20</p><p>Teachers and Students Conceptions ofGood Science TeachingBenny Hin Wai Yung a , Yan Zhu a , Siu Ling Wong a , Man WaiCheng a &amp; Fei Yin Lo aa Faculty of Education , The University of Hong Kong , PokfulamRoad, Hong Kong , SAR, People's Republic of ChinaPublished online: 27 Oct 2011.</p><p>To cite this article: Benny Hin Wai Yung , Yan Zhu , Siu Ling Wong , Man Wai Cheng &amp; Fei Yin Lo(2013) Teachers and Students Conceptions of Good Science Teaching, International Journal ofScience Education, 35:14, 2435-2461, DOI: 10.1080/09500693.2011.629375</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2011.629375</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>Teachers and Students Conceptions</p><p>of Good Science Teaching</p><p>Benny Hin Wai Yung, Yan Zhu, Siu Ling Wong,Man Wai Cheng and Fei Yin LoFaculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong,</p><p>SAR, Peoples Republic of China</p><p>Capitalizing on the comments made by teachers on videos of exemplary science teaching, a video-</p><p>based survey instrument on the topic of Density was developed and used to investigate the</p><p>conceptions of good science teaching held by 110 teachers and 4,024 year 7 students in</p><p>Hong Kong. Six dimensions of good science teaching are identified from the 55-item</p><p>questionnaire, namely, focussing on science learning, facilitating students understanding,</p><p>encouraging students involvement, creating conducive environment, encouraging active</p><p>experimentation and preparing students for exam (PSE). Significant gaps between teachers</p><p>and students conceptions on certain dimensions have been revealed. The inconsistency on the</p><p>dimension PSE is particularly evident and possible reasons for the phenomenon are suggested.</p><p>This study raises the important questions of how the gap can be addressed, and who is to change</p><p>in order to close the gaps. Answers to these questions have huge implications for teacher</p><p>education and teacher professional development.</p><p>Keywords: Good Science Teaching; Teacher Conception; Student Conception</p><p>Introduction</p><p>Over the last few decades, many studies have described the disappointing state of</p><p>science teaching at all school levels across many countries (e.g. Brown, 1974;</p><p>Goodrum, Hackling, &amp; Rennie, 2001; Harlen, 1998; Tobin &amp; Fraser, 1988; Yager,</p><p>Hidayat, &amp; Penick, 1988). It is suggested that one way to improve such situations is</p><p>through identifying and describing the behavior of exemplary science teachers</p><p>(e.g. Tobin &amp; Fraser, 1988; Treagust, 1991; Tyler, 2003; Waldrip, Fisher, &amp;</p><p>International Journal of Science Education, 2013</p><p>Vol. 35, No. 14, 24352461, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2011.629375</p><p>Corresponding author: Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road,Hong Kong, SAR, Peoples Republic of China. Email: hwyung@hkucc.hku.hk</p><p># 2013 Taylor &amp; Francis</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [W</p><p>ilfrid</p><p> Lau</p><p>rier U</p><p>nivers</p><p>ity] a</p><p>t 19:5</p><p>9 13 S</p><p>eptem</p><p>ber 2</p><p>013 </p></li><li><p>Dorman, 2009). The descriptions of what such teachers do could provide guidance</p><p>for the design of teacher education programs at both pre-service and in-service</p><p>levels and will, eventually, lead to enhanced learning of science in school.</p><p>With the rise of cognitive psychology in the early 1980s, teacher educators began to</p><p>focus more on the ways in which teachers think rather than the ways they behave</p><p>(Calderhead, 1996). Research over the last few decades has suggested that teaching</p><p>is a process that involves teachers cognition instead of teachers behaviors alone. In</p><p>their influential review of research on teacher thinking, Clark and Peterson (1986,</p><p>p. 255) suggested that teachers thought processes, theories and beliefs substantially</p><p>influenced and even determined their classroom practices. Indeed, this realization</p><p>has led to increasing interest in studying teacher cognition, in particular, the beliefs</p><p>and conceptions underlying their classroom practices (e.g. Mellado, 1998; Yerrick,</p><p>Parke, &amp; Nugent, 1997; Yung, 2006).</p><p>Early studies in the domain of conceptions of teaching were concerned about teach-</p><p>ing in general (Kember, 1997). More recently, on the premise that there are critical</p><p>features specific to the teaching of particular disciplines, there have been more</p><p>studies of teaching conceptions pertaining to specific disciplines. For instance, in</p><p>science education, it is found that the type and amount of inquiry instruction per-</p><p>formed by teachers in their classrooms are guided by their core conceptions including:</p><p>conceptions of science, their students, effective teaching practices and the purpose of</p><p>education (e.g. Lotter, Harwood, &amp; Bonner, 2007; Luft, Roehrig, &amp; Patterson, 2003;</p><p>Wallace &amp; Kang, 2004).</p><p>However, these and most other studies of conceptions of teaching at school levels</p><p>have been conducted in Western cultural contexts (e.g. Boulton-Lewis, Smith,</p><p>McCrindle, Burnett, &amp; Campbell, 2001; Porlan &amp; del Pozo, 2004) and very few in</p><p>Chinese cultural contexts (see for exception, Gao &amp; Watkins, 2002). Yet, it has</p><p>been shown that there are tangible differences both in the practices of teaching</p><p>(e.g. Stiger &amp; Hiebert, 1999) and in the notions of good teachers and students</p><p>(Jin &amp; Cortazzi, 1998). Our study thus attempts to shed light on these issues by</p><p>exploring teaching conceptions among Hong Kong teachers, where teachers are</p><p>exposed to Western educational philosophies in their professional training while</p><p>being required to teach in sociocultural contexts that are overwhelmingly Chinese</p><p>in origin. Indeed, Watkins and Biggs (2001) characterize the system as one that is</p><p>driven by vernacular Confucianism, with students (and teachers) under constant</p><p>pressure of relentless norm-referenced assessment. These pressures, together with</p><p>other deep-rooted cultural beliefs in relation to social status, student ability and</p><p>effort, will intuitively have a bearing on Hong Kong teachers conceptions of what</p><p>exactly is good teaching in science.</p><p>Previous research in teachers conceptions of teaching has focussed on university</p><p>lecturers or teachers teaching higher forms (Kember, 1997). This present study,</p><p>however, looks at science teachers at the junior secondary level for two reasons.</p><p>First, it will provide evidence to support or refute the view that some aspects of teach-</p><p>ing conceptions may vary according to subject area or level of schooling (Prosser &amp;</p><p>Trigwell, 1998). Second, at this level of schooling, Hong Kong students experience</p><p>2436 B. H. W. Yung et al.</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [W</p><p>ilfrid</p><p> Lau</p><p>rier U</p><p>nivers</p><p>ity] a</p><p>t 19:5</p><p>9 13 S</p><p>eptem</p><p>ber 2</p><p>013 </p></li><li><p>their first formal science curriculum, with the provision of practical work in the</p><p>science laboratory. By all accounts, this is a critical stage during which students inter-</p><p>est in science can be turned on or diminished depending on how science is taught</p><p>(Darby, 2005; Logan &amp; Skamp, 2008; Speering &amp; Rennie, 1996); and that, in turn,</p><p>may be related to the teaching conceptions possessed by the teachers concerned.</p><p>Hence, this study can provide valuable information on how teacher preparation</p><p>courses should be structured to take into account these influences on classroom</p><p>practices.</p><p>Theoretical Underpinnings</p><p>Conceptions of Teaching</p><p>Despite the widespread acknowledgement of the importance of teachers thinking and</p><p>their beliefs, confusion exists among researchers about the definitions of beliefs</p><p>(Pajares, 1992). On one hand, some researchers, like Ponte (1994), argue that both</p><p>beliefs and conceptions are part of knowledge, but they are of different nature: the</p><p>former being prepositional and the latter metaphorical (p. 169). On the other</p><p>hand, some researchers consider beliefs as a subclass of conceptions, hence the two</p><p>inevitably have an overlapping nature. For example, Lloyd and Wilson (1998)</p><p>define conceptions as a persons general mental structures that encompass knowl-</p><p>edge, beliefs, understandings, preferences and views (p. 249). In sum, the term</p><p>beliefs is ill defined; and the distinction between beliefs, knowledge and conceptions</p><p>remains controversial.</p><p>After due consideration, it is decided that the term beliefs will not be strictly dis-</p><p>tinguished from the term conceptions in this study. The two terms will be used inter-</p><p>changeably. In particular, the word conceptions is preferred, as there is already an</p><p>existing body of literature on conceptions of teaching, albeit mostly undertaken in</p><p>the context of higher education (e.g. Biggs, 1989; Christensen, Massey, Issac, &amp;</p><p>Synott, 1995; Kember &amp; Gow, 1994; Prosser, Trigwell, &amp; Taylor, 1994). This is in</p><p>line with Enwistle, Skinner, Enwistle, and Orr (2000) thinking that, in so doing, it</p><p>can bring the empirical findings deriving from staff in higher education and those</p><p>from school teachers together, and hence paving the way for a more complete</p><p>picture of what may underlie the notion of good teaching.</p><p>Broadly speaking, conceptions of teaching can be viewed as the categories of ideas</p><p>underlying different peoples descriptions of how they experience the teaching process</p><p>(Pratt, 1992). From a detailed analysis of 13 studies, Kember (1997) identified</p><p>5 dimensions on which teachers constructed their conceptions of teaching: the essen-</p><p>tial features of teaching and learning; the roles of student and teacher; the aims and</p><p>expected outcomes of teaching; the content of teaching and the preferred styles and</p><p>approaches to teaching. In other words, no matter what kind of teaching conception</p><p>a teacher possesses, be it teacher-centered or student-centered, elements correspond-</p><p>ing to the five dimensions mentioned above could still be identified. Based on a</p><p>holistic assessment of the essential ideas articulated in the five dimensions,</p><p>Teachers and Students CoGST 2437</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [W</p><p>ilfrid</p><p> Lau</p><p>rier U</p><p>nivers</p><p>ity] a</p><p>t 19:5</p><p>9 13 S</p><p>eptem</p><p>ber 2</p><p>013 </p></li><li><p>Kember classified the different kinds of teaching conceptions into five categories</p><p>which he referred to as first-order conceptions, viz, imparting information, transmit-</p><p>ting structured knowledge, student teacher interaction/apprenticeship, facilitating</p><p>understanding and conceptual change/intellectual development.</p><p>Different opinions exist on whether there is a hierarchical relationship between</p><p>different categories of teaching conceptions, with the less sophisticated conceptions</p><p>subsuming under the most sophisticated conceptions (e.g. Biggs, 1989; Martin &amp;</p><p>Balla, 1990). Yet majority in the field prefer arranging the conceptions in a linear</p><p>sequence while some have argued that teachers views fall into contrasting subsets:</p><p>teacher-centered vs. student-centered. This led Kember (1997) to propose two</p><p>higher order orientations to complete his model: teacher-centered/content-oriented</p><p>and student-centered/learning-oriented. The former focusses on clear presentation</p><p>of knowledge by the teacher for transfer to students in an easily digestible form.</p><p>This is in contrast with the latter orientation where students are expected to</p><p>process information actively with the teacher acting as a facilitator of their learning.</p><p>In sum, like most researchers, Kember depicts teaching conceptions as lying on a con-</p><p>tinuum with two extremes: the most teacher-centered vs. the most student-centered.</p><p>Instead of probing participants conceptions of teaching, the present study investi-</p><p>gates their conceptions of good teaching. It builds on an earlier study</p><p>(Wong, Yung, Cheng, &amp; Hodson, 2006; Yung, Wong, Cheng, Hui, &amp; Hodson,</p><p>2007) in which two videos of exemplary science teaching at the junior secondary</p><p>level had proven to be effective in eliciting and tracking student teachers conception</p><p>of good science teaching. It is believed that characteristics of good teaching are indi-</p><p>cators of the ideal toward which teachers aim and students prefer, albeit implicitly.</p><p>Hence it is easier for teachers and students to respond to survey questions pertaining</p><p>to good teaching rather than teaching in general. In fact, there is no need for total</p><p>agreement on whether these recorded lessons demonstrate good teaching or not.</p><p>The viewers can identify with the good practices shown in the video or not. In offering</p><p>their opinions of whether they think certain teaching practices are good or not, they</p><p>are implying in their answers the corresponding conceptions of good teaching. In</p><p>short, these video excerpts serve as a dynamic stimulus to elicit respondents con-</p><p>ceptions of good teaching, a normally abstract phenomenon (Gao &amp; Watkins, 2002).</p><p>In a previous study (Yung et al., 2007), we provided pre-service teachers with a set</p><p>of videos of reform-based exemplary science teaching and asked them to review and</p><p>reflect on the same set of videos on different occasions during a teacher education</p><p>program. The videos were found to serve as an effective probe to elicit student tea-</p><p>chers conceptions of good science teaching (CoGST). In particular, the instructional</p><p>arrangement of asking student teachers to watch the same videos on three separate</p><p>occasions at different times of the course was recognized by them as a crucial</p><p>element in facilitating their reflection on their changing CoGST. The present study</p><p>capitalizes on the potency and strength of these videos in eliciting respondents con-</p><p>ceptions of good teaching to develop a quantitative survey instrument for studies</p><p>involving a large population of respondents. This differs from our earlier work</p><p>which was a qualitative study involving only a small number of pre-service teachers.</p><p>2438 B. H. W. Yung et...</p></li></ul>


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