Exploring the implication of science communication practices on a model for teacher professional development: Serving up the Pierian Waters

Other supervisory panel members:

Mark J Ellison CPAS, Australian National University (Advisor)

Thesis Abstract:

Science communication, over the last two decades, has shifted its onus from public understanding to public engagement. These efforts have been paralleled in science education, which strives to promote continued student engagement with science. Persistence with more traditional forms of pedagogy by teachers in middle school is a chief deterrent to this endeavour. Since many teachers’ inadequate understanding about science is regarded as inhibiting their use of inquiry-based pedagogy, professional development based on constructivist principles has been identified to remedy this problem. This study investigates the constructivist basis for a model of short-term professional development, which has not been addressed in the literature. The one-day workshops offered to middle school science teachers in Australia and overseas by the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (ANU, Canberra) were investigated. While the workshops did facilitate conceptual change in the teachers, it was found that the constructivist principles which were incorporated into the workshops’ design and delivery were underpinned by science communication practices. The conclusions presented include: the possibility of a constructivist framework for short-term professional development; the need for greater involvement of science communication in science education reform; and the unique challenges which confront science teachers from non-Western cultures.