NATURE OF SCIENCE AND MODELS: A FOLLOW UP STUDY CONCERNING PROSPECTIVE SCIENCE TEACHERS’ OPINIONS AFTER AN INTERVENTION PROGRAMME

J. Torres, C. Vasconcelos

Faculty of Sciences of Oporto University, Institute of Earth Sciences (PORTUGAL)
The development of accurate views of nature of science is currently considered a crucial aim for science education. Given the relevance of scientific models in scientific research, the understanding of their relevance in science is also important for understanding science itself. Furthermore, scientific models are fundamental tools in science education, as they facilitate learning, they prompt the development of inquiry skills and they also promote the development of accurate views of nature of science. However, many studies highlight that students and even teachers do not hold informed views of nature of science and that there is a lack of activities in science classes that contribute to counter this situation. Moreover, it is shown that models are scarcely used in science classes and when that happens, they are mostly used in a limited way.

Bearing this in mind, we developed and applied an intervention programme to Portuguese prospective science teachers, aiming to improve their views regarding nature of science and models. This study is a follow up study as it corresponds to the second implementation of the intervention programme, which is entitled: Scientific models, modelling and nature of science in science teaching. Twelve prospective science teachers (eleven female and one male) with ages ranging from 21 to 28 (mean= 23.16), that will teach biology and geology in middle and secondary schools, voluntarily participated in this study. They attended the classes of the intervention programme and answered to previously validated short questionnaires after each class, which mainly consisted of two questions:
(i) What were the main concepts that you developed in this class?;
(ii) What concepts have you altered?

Data was analysed with the help of the Q.S.R. NVivo 11 qualitative data analysis package.

Results generally revealed that prospective science teachers recognized that they developed their views about scientific models and nature of science and that they better understood the relevance of the nature of science and of using models in science education. Prospective science teachers also highlighted that they understood some precautions that should be taken into account when using models in science classes.

With this study, we reaffirm the relevance of the intervention programme to improve prospective science teachers’ views about models and nature of science. Nevertheless, more research is needed in order to better understand the factors that mediate teachers’ views into their teaching practices.