Date of Award
Master of Science
Curriculum and Instruction
Joanne K. Olson
This study examined how the nature of science is currently represented in eight grades 3-5 life science curriculum materials. The materials are self-described as aligned with current reform documents. Two of the selected teacher guides were from a textbook series and six were from kit-based programs. Despite consistent emphasis in reform documents that the nature of science is a crucial part of K-12 science education, this study demonstrates the lack of inclusion in grades 3-5 curriculum materials. Analysis of the curriculum materials indicated incorrect information about the nature of science permeated the materials. All materials examined lacked explicit, accurate NOS concepts.
This study confirms that like the lower elementary materials (Schrauth, 2009), accurate, explicit portrayals of the nature of science are not consistently present in many curriculum materials used by upper elementary teachers. The reviewed materials failed to provide students with explicit opportunities to know how scientists work and what science is.
A central issue the science education community must consider is whether they want to continue to put their efforts into attempts to change secondary students' deeply-entrenched misconceptions, or whether efforts should be made to improve NOS instruction at the elementary level, at a time when views of science are being formed. This study has multiple implications for those that wish to improve the current state of upper elementary science materials. A three-prong approach should be considered for improvement in the field: curriculum redesign to include accurate and explicit NOS, increased NOS education for pre-service teachers, and continued NOS education for in-service teachers.
Lindsey R Richey
Richey, Lindsey R., "The portrayal of the nature of science in upper elementary instructional materials" (2011). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 10287.