This chapter has a somewhat more restricted focus. It is concerned
with discussing, illustrating, and assessing both the impact of constructivist
ideas on classroom research and the ways this research
informs classroom practice. I will also consider some of the critiques
directed at constructivism. All this will be done within the context of
This chapter will begin by picking up some of the themes in constructivism
that were troublesome in 1993-94 when I last wrote about
the subject. The most important of these concerns constructivism as a
method of teaching and the various brands of constructivism which lie
beyond what the students tell us they think about scientific phenomena
(as though these were wholly invented or constructed by them). Then
there are two almost completely new themes which we should explore
because they are becoming more confusing but also more interesting.
The first of these is the so-called Science Wars, where angry exchanges
and polarized views about truth and constructivism between the relativists
and the scientists are beginning to assail the quieter domain of
science education in order to recruit teachers and youngsters to their
sides of the argument.
Against a backdrop of increasing concern about promoting student achievement in science, this study examines the construction of science classes without science in an academically prestigious high school.
Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS88), this study examines the access to constructivist and didactic instuction in U.S. high school science classrooms.
The five articles in this set of commentaries reflect the richness and energy of the issues surrounding national standards in math and science as they begin to reach a wider audience and take shape in implementation. The dominant issue discussed and debated in the articles is the shift in emphasis from memorizing procedures (calculations) to problem solving and understanding.
This article addresses the development, content, and potential for implementation of nationallly developed science education standards, including their adoption and effects at the state level.
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.