Learning to teach science through inquiry: The impact of authentic learning experiences on the development of preservice teachers' pedagogical content knowledge

Year: 2012

Author: Sutherland, Louise, Anderson, Kate

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


One of the major studies of science teaching in Australian schools identified traditional teacher-centred approach as common practice with students reporting that school science was irrelevant, unengaging with limited opportunities for challenge (Rennie, Goodrum, & Hackling, 2001).  By contrast, inquiry-based approaches to teaching science have been shown to promote student engagement, understanding and the development of students' scientific literacy (Areepattamannil, 2012). How universities could prepare preservice teachers to use interactive student-cantered inquiry approaches in their classroom practices?

This paper reports on the development, implementation and evaluation of two projects in preservice teachers education in science designed to promote preservice teachers' pedagogical content knowledge about teaching science through inquiry.   In the first project - called “myscience@sydney” - groups of preservice primary teachers team-taught a set of lessons to science lessons to a whole class of primary students.  The impact of these experiences on the preservice teachers understanding of and confidence in undertaking a hands-on science instruction will be discussed.

In the second project – called “I-science” - pairs of preservice secondary teachers worked as mentors to support a small group of high school students undertake an authentic science inquiry. The impact of the initiative on the preservice teachers' beliefs about the NoS, teaching, learning and the development of their understanding of how to teach science through classroom based inquiry will be examined. Issues associated with using authentic learning experiences to support the development of preservice teacher pedagogical content knowledge will be discussed.