A commentary on the national standards for science education from the perspective of a university faculty member in the physical sciences.
One of two articles on academic achievement, this article discusses the performance of U.S. students on mathematics and science achievement tests compared to students in other countries. Recent data show they are performing better. This commentary examines the importance of meeting certain research conditions before drawing conclusions about achievement trends.
The historical, social, and political context
of women’s experience in science serves to challenge the stereotype that girls “historically?
have had a difficult time in math and science.
This article describes Stanford University's interdisciplinary, core, middle grades curriculum in human biology that combats alienation from science by making it interesting to adolescents.
A revolution in genetics is occurring, but when looking ahead, we must not romanticize the past. The social history of genetics, and American education's association with eugenics, make it necessary that we understand that both education and science are informed by social attitudes.
Given the increasing extent to which ours is
a culture influenced by and dependent upon science and its technological
applications, the good of the individual and the further
development of the culture are said to require the study of science. The
focus of this yearbook on the idea of a common curriculum coupled
with concern for individual differences invites a break with traditional
arguments and calls for a novel analysis, one which also attends to the
way schools operate at the present time.
Two themes upon which the operation of the Department of Science Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, is based are: (1) Educational institutions are successful when educational traditions are consistent with practices; and (2) the fortunes of a department depend on the field's status and other developments in society as a whole.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the moral, political, and epistemological consequences of the methodology of and theoretical commitments to a behavioral research pattern and its application to education.
Analyzes current environmental emphasis in light of past efforts in the same area, and suggests that environmental studies'' belongs with the humanities rather than with the natural sciences.
The nature of the teacher shortage following World War II and its effect on future educational policy are analyzed.
!hat science has played a significant role in the development of our culture is an obvious fact; that it will play an increasingly important role in our future development is, in light of present progress, taken for granted. What the exact nature of that role will be is a question with which all educators need to be concerned. Educational programs in schools and colleges must be appropriately conceived of and skilfully planned. Accordingly, this first chapter of the yearbook is given over to a consideration of the significance of science in our culture.
The march of science just preceding and following the mid-period of the twentieth century has caused education to realize that science-teaching must differ in emphasis, purpose, and kind from that of the preatomic and premissile eras. During the past twenty years science has contributed many distinguishing characteristics of our civilization. National security, economic stability, public welfare, and the maintenance of a free society are intimately related to the discoveries of science and the applications thereof. The emerging scientific revolution, together with the trend toward world industrialization, demands a program of science education with new dimensions. More than a casual acquaintance with scientific enterprise is essential for effective citizenship. It is apparent that now is the time to evaluate and redefine the purposes of science teaching.
Important among the objectives of science teaching are the learning of concepts, generalizations or principles, and scientific methods and attitudes, This chapter deals with the ways in which pupils learn these concepts, principles, methods, and attitudes, how aptitude and achievement in science can be evaluated, and, finally, a point of view about learning science.
Sociologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, anthropologists, natural scientists, science teachers, and educational administrators have pondered the question: What makes a scientist? The methods of study employed vary; refined statistical procedures, biographical study, psychometric approaches, and logical analyses of observations of scientists at work have all been used. One valuable analysis1 of work in vocational development theory as it relates to scientific careers lists a bibliography of 229 papers.
It is not the purpose of this chapter to measure or to document recent and current changes in science education. But change is identified and analyzed by comparing two or more points along a continuum. This chapter is a status report, intended to describe science education in public schools at the time of this writing. These pages should constitute a benchmark in science education-a reference point to help today's scholars assay changes of years gone by and to help tomorrow's scholars visualize changes as yet undreamed.
Liberal education of fifty or a hundred years ago was apparently seeking about the same goals as is general education today. That is, they both have tried to help the individual orient himself in his society. Liberal education became specialized education as young people used college education to improve their financial and occupational status. As a result, colleges graduated an increasing number of trained specialists who were not sufficiently adjusted to the total life of their society. The general-education movement is an effort to re-establish education as "the formal means a society takes to submit its members to a common set of intellectual and social experiences." This education is thought of as a force tending toward social cohesion.
The general purposes of science education have been discussed in the earlier chapters of this volume. This chapter and the one which follows, relate specifically to science in the elementary school, in which science offerings are most closely related to the total school program and thus to the objectives of the school as a whole.
In the preceding chapter we have examined the purposes and the program of science in the elementary school and have considered evaluation as it relates to the program. In this chapter we shall consider some features of the methods of instruction and also of evaluation as they relate to the teaching process.
If, as it has been said, it takes fifty years for educational theory to become practice in the schools, science-teaching in the secondary schools of America is entering the most critical years of its history. Periodically since 1920 authoritative pronouncements have been made regarding the purposes of science and the ways in which it should be taught in order to achieve those purposes. A comparison of the earlier statements of purpose with those set forth in chapter ii of this yearbook reveals marked similarity. For almost forty years there has been general agreement, in theory at least, regarding the purposes of science teaching. However, studies by Beauchamp and Obourn reveal that little has been done in science classrooms across the country to attain some of the most important of these purposes.
It is the purpose of this chapter to analyze some of the significant efforts to develop programs for improving secondary-school science-teaching. An attempt has been made to describe the activities and proposals of various public and private groups, agencies, professional societies, philanthropic foundations, and colleges and universities. In some sections of this chapter, individual organizations have been included as representative of a group of such organizations. In no section is the listing of individual groups exhaustive.
The older concept of "curriculum" has been expanded beyond the dictionary definition of "a course of study," to embrace the total spectrum of content, resources, materials, and methods of teaching through which the purposes of education are achieved. Thus, as the directory to the ultimate goals of science instruction, the curriculum, next to the teacher, becomes a most important factor in determining the nature of science education. This chapter will consider some of the procedures and developments that are essential to curriculum- planning in science for this critical and challenging period.
Operational problems of one kind or another will quite certainly confront any established organization. If an organizational group is
to remain dynamic, it must struggle toward equilibrium in structure
at the very time that it is seeking ways to unbalance the equilibrium
in order to improve the structure. This conflict between stability and change is blended most successfully in organizations where the expectancy is one of "structural mobility" or "organized change." In such situations the energy typically spent in resisting change is channelled into seeking and fostering types of change designed for the improvement of the whole organization.
As a result of accelerated construction of elementary and secondary schools and the trend toward strengthening science instruction at all levels, many problems which are related to facilities, equipment, and materials for science instruction are becoming of para- mount importance. Planning and equipping the new science facilities and remodeling others to provide adequate science instruction will create new problems for school officials, teachers, and parents. The purpose of this chapter is to. present some guidelines which may help in solving some of these problems.
As perhaps never before in history, the education of the person who has direct responsibility for the teaching of science in our schools has come under the review of our citizenry. Very appropriately, parents, government officials, scientists, and engineers have joined with the professional educators in efforts to determine the basic problems of science and to find means of providing a more adequate education for those who are to become science teachers. Many organizations, agencies, and institutions have been involved in these efforts. Among these are colleges of education, colleges of the arts or of the sciences, certification and accreditation agencies, professional and scientific societies, and numerous agencies of government. These forces, in turn, have been joined by local groups in all regions of our nation. Tentative steps have been taken, and experimental programs of various types have emerged. Experimentation is necessary because, in the education of teachers, research is essential to fundamental advances.
The professional growth of the science teacher has involved, during the last few decades, the acquisition, on the part of the teacher, of an ever increasing amount of knowledge and number of understandings. The rapid growth of science and technology has made the teacher's task of keeping abreast of developments a difficult one. The problems faced by science teachers in their day-to-day work have become increasingly complex. During the same period, the increase of knowledge relating to human behavior and the consequent gain in our understanding of the processes of teaching have given new dimensions to the problem of teacher growth.
Confident theory and practical action in education, as in science, must be based upon the results of research. However, now that the spotlight of public concern has been turned abruptly upon science-teaching in the schools, we find that proven research in this area is not sufficient to guide us in determining what changes would be profitable for improving the teaching of science. Some advances have been made, but only on a narrow front.
The education of the science teacher is the responsibility of the colleges and universities. The previous chapters in this yearbook indicate that the proper discharge of this responsibility now requires an evaluation of present programs. The statements in these chapters concerning the role of science in our culture, the status and problems of elementary- and secondary-school science, and the education and professional growth of the science teacher have implications for the evaluation of the present programs in colleges and universities for the education of science teachers.
The purpose of this chapter is to report the major problems and issues in science education that are apparent at this time. The issues of science-teaching under consideration represent those which have often been discussed by teachers, technologists, and laymen during the past several years. A review of numerous articles, committee reports, research studies, symposia, editorials, and publications on science-teaching provided the basis for the selection of current issues. A limited number of science teachers and all members of the year- book committee have contributed to this review of the literature on problems and issues in science education. Also, comments by nearly a hundred well-known scientists are represented in the pronouncements and issues to be reviewed in this chapter.
Several useful reports dealing with instruction in science have appeared
during the past two decades. There are, however, a number of
considerations justifying the preparation at this time of a yearbook in
The differences between our day and that of
the ancients are in refinements and degree. We are on our way, but have
far to go.