Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Curriculum and Instruction
Michael P. Clough
Joanne K. Olson
This study explores the use of historical short stories as nature of science (NOS) instruction in thirteen secondary science classes. The stories focus on the development of science ideas and include statements and questions to draw students' and teachers' attention to key NOS ideas and misconceptions. This study used mixed methods to examine how teachers implement the stories, factors influencing teachers' implementation, the impact on students' NOS understanding, students' interest in the stories and factors correlated with their interest.
Teachers' implementation decisions were influenced by their NOS understanding, curricula, time constraints, perceptions of student ability and resistance, and student goals. Teachers implementing stories at a high-level of effectiveness were more likely to make instructional decisions to mitigate constraints from the school environment and students. High-level implementers frequently referred to their learning goals for students as a rationale for implementing the stories even when facing constraints. Teachers implementing at a low-level of effectiveness were more likely to express that constraints inhibited effective implementation. Teachers at all levels of implementation expressed concern regarding the length of the stories and time required to fully implement the stories. Additionally, teachers at all levels of implementation expressed a desire for additional resources regarding effective story implementation and reading strategies.
Evidence exists that the stories can be used to improve students' NOS understanding. However, under what conditions the stories are effective is still unclear. Students reported finding the stories more interesting than textbook readings and many students enjoyed learning about scientists and the development of science idea. Students' interest in the stories is correlated with their attitudes towards reading, views of effective science learning, attributions of academic success, and interest in a science-related career.
If NOS instructional materials are to be used effectively, designers must take into account the needs of classroom teachers by limiting the length of the materials and providing additional teacher support resources. Many teachers will likely require professional development opportunities to build their NOS understanding, develop a compelling rationale for teaching NOS and using the stories, observe modeling of effective implementation, and collaborate with other teachers regarding how to mitigate constraints.
Jennifer Ann Reid-Smith
Reid-Smith, Jennifer Ann, "Historical short stories as nature of science instruction in secondary science classrooms: Science teachers' implementation and students' reactions" (2013). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 13633.