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Teachers' conceptions of the nature of science: their impact on the planned implementation of mandated curriculum
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This study explores the effect of teachers' conceptions of the nature of science on the planned implementation of a mandated curriculum. I used naturalistic and qualitative methods to address three research questions: ³To what extent do teachers' personal conceptions of the nature of science contribute to the planning of a science lesson? *To what extent do the conceptions of science expressed in a mandated curriculum contribute to the planning of a science lesson? ³When the two are in conflict, which contributes more to the planning of a science lesson: the teacher's personal conceptions or the nature of science, or those expressed in the mandated curriculum? An ethnographic interview was conducted to determine the conceptions of science held by 10 middle school teachers and to identify cultural, or commonly held, themes of conception among teachers. These themes were then compared to the conceptions of science expressed in lesson planning documents (representing planned implementation) and the mandated curriculum. The data were analyzed to determine the effect of teachers' cultural themes on planned implementation compared to the effect of themes expressed in the mandated curriculum. The results of the analysis indicated that teachers' conceptions of the nature of science played a greater role in planned implementation of the mandated curriculum than did the conceptions expressed in the curriculum itself. These results led to the formation of two hypotheses: Teachers' conceptions of the nature of science play a definitive role in determining planned implementation of science curriculum. Teachers will tend to more faithfully implement science curriculum that they perceive to reflect their own conceptions of the nature of science. Future study is indicated in the determining how teachers' conceptions of science are formed and identifying those components of conception that exert the strongest influence on planning for implementation. Most importantly, research might be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of teacher education programs that provide a rich base of practical experience, knowledge of the history and philosophy of science, and the opportunity to discuss and refine emerging conceptions in enabling teachers to consciously form their understandings of the nature of science.
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Travis, Moreen K. (1993). Teachers' conceptions of the nature of science: their impact on the planned implementation of mandated curriculum. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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