From black and white to shades of grey

Science & Education 26 (5):483-511 (2017)
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Abstract

Traditional school science has been described as focused on indisputable facts where scientific processes and factors affecting these processes become obscured or left undiscussed. In this article, we report on teachers’ perspectives on the teaching of sociocultural and subjective aspects of the nature of science as a way to accomplish a more nuanced science teaching in Swedish compulsory school. The teachers took part in a longitudinal study on NOS and NOS teaching that spanned 3 years. The data consists of recorded and transcribed focus group discussions from all 3 years. In the analysis, the transcripts were searched for teachers’ suggestions of issues, relevant for teaching in compulsory school, as well as opportunities and challenges connected to the teaching of these issues. The results of the analysis show that the number of suggested issues increased over the years, teachers’ ways of contextualizing the issues changed from general and unprecise to more tightly connected to socio-scientific or scientific contexts, and the number of both opportunities and challenges related to NOS teaching increased over the years. The most evident changes occurred from the beginning of year 2 when the focus group discussions became more closely directed towards concrete teaching activities. Tensions between the opportunities and challenges are discussed as well as how these can be met, and made use of, in science teacher education.

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