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Traditional school science education practices (teacher ad director, learning of de-contextualized conceptual knowledge through acquisition, practical exercises to demonstrate known phenomena) continue to enjoy an extraordinary level of popularity in primary and secondary school curricula. Concurrently, and in all likelihood, as a consequence of these teaching approaches, many students have little or no interest or engagement in science. Despite recent advancements of, and reforms in, pedagogical approaches, numerous factors impact on primary teachers’ willingness to adopt new practices. Challenges include the duration of professional development associated with the reform, institutional and individual teacher characteristics, context (physical environment, human interactions and school policies) and teacher beliefs (about science, science learning and science teaching). An inquiry-based, student-led, mentor-supported science program named My Science has been implemented in a number of Australian schools to address these issues.

My Science builds communities of science practice to broaden primary teachers’ perceptions of what it means to learn about science and of ways to engage students and enhance their understanding of the nature of science (NOS). This chapter reports qualitative and quantitative research findings from participating primary teachers following their involvement and participation in MyScience. Qualitative results revealed teachers’ learning through participation in MyScience, and the findings contributed to the design of an online quantitative survey. Quantitative results showed observable gains in NOS for participating teachers, compared to a control group. Implications for science teaching and learning in primary school community of practice settings are discussed.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Book Chapter

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