Item – Theses Canada

OCLC number
Bencze, John Lawrence,1950-
Towards a more authentic and feasible science curriculum for secondary schools.
Ph. D. -- University of Toronto, 1995
Ottawa :National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada,1995.
5 microfiches.
Includes bibliographical references.
'Hybrid, interventionist' action research, combined with naturalistic research methods, was used to: (i) develop a science curriculum which is more authentic and feasible in the contexts of particular secondary teachers' situations, and (ii) determine factors which may affect its feasibility. Many secondary school science programmes may present students with an illusion of certainty. Sources of this illusion may include the: (i) omission of epistemological justification, combined with an excessive focus on transmitting easily measurable content knowledge; (ii) use of 'recipe-style' laboratory 'experiments' to justify knowledge claims, without appropriate debate, and/or to simulate scientific 'discovery,' without mention of their theory-dependence; and (iii) omission of correlational studies. School science may also present an illusion of indispensability for professional science, by way of: (i) the ordering of course content from theoretical to practical; and (ii) omission of technological design activities. Contiguous to these is students' limited opportunities to carry out open-ended scientific investigations and invention projects of their own design. A net effect may be that students are developing a measure of intellectual dependence on authority figures. This situation may serve interests of academic scientists. However, its perpetuation may also have been related to positivistic, technical-rationalist approaches to curriculum renewal, in which teachers' personal practical knowledge is not honoured. 'Emancipatory' action research may be an appropriate way to achieve the goals stated above. However, a 'hybrid' form of action research, including a participant researcher acting in an 'interventionist' style, was considered to be most fruitful. Over a two-year period, five secondary school teachers and myself collaborated to produce and evaluate a constructivist approach to science teaching. Based on their reactions to 'practical experiences,' students conducted controlled experiments, correlational studies, and experimental tests of inventions of their own design in order to test alternative ideas. The action research method seemed to contribute to the feasibility of the approach. However, the nature of the teachers, students, curriculum and milieux appeared to also have an influence on feasibility. The thesis concludes with a number of recommendations for science education, teacher education, and educational research.