Reforming primary science education : beyond the ‘stand and deliver’ mode of professional development
Keywords130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators
teacher professional development
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractThe skills crisis in science and engineering can be tracked, in part, to a lack of effective science education in primary schools. Recent curriculum reforms and professional learning programs for teachers focus on constructivist-inspired pedagogies but to date have had little impact on the quality and quantity of science learning in primary classrooms. Central to implementing these reforms has been the role of professional development. A typical model for professional development programs has been the one-off after-school presentation with minimal follow-up or linkage to the teachers‟ current needs. The effectiveness of presenter-led modes of PD has a number of constraints, including relevance, teachers‟ time and the availability of suitable facilitators. This study examines the literature on teacher professional learning and proposes a model addressing the identified constraints, in the context of implementing the Primary Connections science/literacy program. Strategies identified as most effective in facilitating change in teachers‟ practice include: educative curriculum materials; curriculum development; collaborative partnerships; and teacher reflection. These strategies are of particular interest because they offer potential to mitigate three major constraints to professional learning: time; individual needs; and classroom context. In addition, these strategies all reduce the participants‟ dependence on the role of a „presenter‟ or facilitator. This paper provides guidance for PD facilitators and designers in developing more successful and cost-effective models for achieving reform in classroom practice.