Teacher professional growth at science centres

Year: 2021

Author: Nelson, Chloë

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Out-of-school science centres, including places such as science museums, are common around the world and are visited by millions of school children and their teachers each year. Previous studies have highlighted a range of benefits for pre-service teachers interacting with science centres, however, less attention has been given to the benefits that in-service teachers experience through their interactions with these centres. In a previous study we found that in-service teachers of science experienced a range of professional growth benefits from their interactions with science centres. These benefits included science content knowledge gains, increased motivation to teach science and subsequent improvements in their own students’ learning. Teachers also described benefits such as connecting to other science teachers, science professionals and industry as well as learning about the latest scientific developments.This study explored the mechanisms of how teachers’ professional growth occurred through their interactions with science centres. A total of 10 volunteer in-service primary and secondary school teachers of science from around Australia participated in a semi-structured interview about their past experiences with science centres. Qualitative data analysis, using deductive and inductive coding, has identified that there are multiple, intricate mechanisms of how teachers engage with the resources presented at and available through science centres. These differences lead to teachers experiencing a diverse range of professional growth outcomes. Additionally, enabling and inhibiting factors have been identified that can influence whether these growth outcomes for teachers are able to be enacted in their schools.Future research should focus on collecting additional evidence of teacher growth from observing teachers’ practice. Additionally, studies should also be conducted to explore how changes in teachers’ professional growth from their interactions with science centres subsequently affects their students’ outcomes. This would hopefully inform how these existing science centre resources could be further leveraged for the ongoing professional development and growth of in-service teachers of science and for the ultimate benefit of students.