The development of science student teachers’ knowledge base in England

The University of Nottingham, United Kingdom

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Veal, et al., (1998: 3) suggest that ‘What has remained unclear with respect to the standard documents and teacher education is the process by which a prospective or novice science teacher develops the ability to transform knowledge of science content into a teachable form’. The aim of this research was to increase our understanding of this development since it focuses on the process of secondary science students’ knowledge base including subject matter knowledge (SMK) and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) development in England and Wales to meet the standards specified by the science ITT curriculum.

This study reveals the nature of the problems encountered by students and any persistent problems experienced by newly qualified teachers (NQTs) in the aspects of their knowledge base development, during their training year and their first year of teaching, respectively. Strategies and sources which contribute to students’ knowledge base development are identified together with the roles of students and PGCE courses in this development.

The inquiry process that guided this study is predominantly qualitative, but also quantitative in nature. Three groups participated to this study: the University of Nottingham PGCE secondary science students, their science tutors and secondary science NQTs who qualified from a range of universities and who were working in schools around Nottingham. Sixteen students, eleven NQTs and five science tutors were interviewed and thirty-five students also participated in this research by completing a questionnaire including both likert-scale and open-ended items.

The results indicate a number of important issues, including; that the process of becoming a secondary science teacher and the development of SMK and PCK is not a linear process but a very complex process. Wide-range problems were encountered not only by the students but also by the NQTs. The problems were not exclusively in their non-specialist subject areas, they also encountered difficulties in their specialist subject areas. A number of reasons were identified for students’ and NQTs’ difficulties. Crucially, this research revealed that the majority of students and NQTs were unaware of their own weaknesses in many aspects of PCK including identifying and overcoming pupils’ misconceptions and, identifying and using appropriate models. Students and NQTs did not acknowledge and appreciate the support given by their Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). In addition, they were unclear of their own role in the PGCE course and in their professional knowledge base development. The findings also identified factors influencing or preventing effective knowledge base development.


Assist. Prof. Dr. Yasemin Gödek
Gazi University, Kirsehir Education Faculty, Department of Primary Education,
Program of Science Teacher Education, 40100, Kirsehir - TURKEY
Tel: 00 90 536 649 07 72
Fax: 00 90 386 213 45 13
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