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Students in education reflecting on their knowledge frameworks: One way through the dilemma of science content?

Adrianne Kinnear
School of Natural Sciences, Edith Cowan University
In this presentation, I describe some strategies I have been trialing in my classrooms to help primary education students meet the age old challenges of Content, Competency and Confidence in science and mathematics. The research literature continues to describe these students as lacking confidence in their science and mathematics competencies, and without interest and enthusiasm for the subjects. The acquisition of appropriate science knowledge frameworks by primary teachers in an already subject-crowded profession, is still seen as an important issue. For those of us who teach science at the preservice level, there is an opportunity to lay the groundwork of positive attitudes towards, and personal confidence with working mathematically and scientifically.

The teaching and learning challenges at first glance can seem formidable. In my case, how to design a single semester unit in integrated science and mathematics for a group of students new to the university culture, many of whom have strong negative attitudes towards science and mathematics, combined with poor scientific literacy and numeracy.

I developed a unit which is learner centred and inquiry focussed, but through which the theme of student reflection on learning is paramount. I have focussed on strategies which encourage student reflection of their current science knowledge. This, in turn, provides the tools to evaluate, improve and extend their knowledge frameworks, moving them towards taking responsibility for their own learning in science and mathematics. The challenge has been to manage this in a positive learning environment that not only challenges their current knowledge frameworks but also develops their confidence in, and enthusiasm for working mathematically and scientifically. This presentation is both a summary some of the strategies I have used and some reflections on the successes and pitfalls along the way.

Please cite as: Kinnear, A. (2003). Students in education reflecting on their knowledge frameworks: One way through the dilemma of science content? In Partners in Learning. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 11-12 February 2003. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/kinnear-abs.html

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Last revision: 15 Jan 2003. This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/kinnear-abs.html