Learning and teaching of science in primary schools in Fiji: Beliefs and practices of teachers in the field

Year: 2019

Author: Ali, Runaaz

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In Fiji, which is not immune to the impact of scientific and technological advancements, science education is essential for citizens to be productive in a society that requires interaction with scientific information daily, especially in the context of climate change. However, there is a decline in students pursuing science subjects and an equally high failure rate amongst those students who do pursue science in higher secondary schools in Fiji. Possibly the way primary science is taught in schools discourages Fijian students from pursuing science disciplines in their secondary schooling. Previous studies in Fiji have shown that primary science teaching is didactic and often about learning science content and not doing science as befitting the nature of science. Teacher beliefs about science and learning and teaching science affect the way science is taught in schools. This study attempts to provide an in-depth analysis of beliefs and classroom practices of science as lived and experienced by Fijian primary school teachers. In particular, beliefs that teachers have about the nature of science and various aspects of learning and teaching science together with their classroom practice help in understanding how and why a teacher teaches science the way they do. Specifically an interpretive phenomenological analysis case study approach is employed to explore in-service teachers’ beliefs about the nature of science, various aspects of learning and teaching science and the relationships (if any) amongst them. The key data collection methods include semi-structured interviews, science lesson observations and researcher journal. This presentation will explain the methodology employed together with the analysis of preliminary findings from one in-service teacher participant. Since interpretive phenomenological analysis is a fairly new approach to science education research, it will add a new dimension to the repertoire of methods employed in science education research on teacher beliefs and practices both in Fiji and elsewhere.