Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Science Education, Mallinson Institute

First Advisor

Dr. Bill W. Cobern

Second Advisor

Dr. Marcia Fetters

Third Advisor

Dr. Renee Schwartz

Abstract

This study investigates the perspectives of Uganda science teacher educators on three areas foundational to science education reforms: Nature of science, preferred science pedagogy and classroom learning environment. Uganda has embraced science education reforms but classroom science teachers struggle to implement them. Could these struggles be attributed to their science teacher educators’ perspectives? Using a concurrent mixed method design, the study profiles the views of 63 science teacher educators in Uganda.

Data were collected using four instruments: Student Understanding of Science and Scientific Inquiry, Pedagogy of Science Teaching Test, Views of Nature of Science survey and Constructivist Classroom Learning Environment survey. Additional qualitative data were collected using semi-structured telephone interviews and content analysis of science methods course syllabi used by the participants.

Analysis of data yielded results showing that a majority of the participants’ views on nature of science are transitional, characterized by an objectivist worldview and do not fully conform to the consensus view of teachable nature of science. A majority of their views favor pedagogies that portray classroom science as ‘science-in-the-making’. Although, results show reluctance to embrace uncertainty and critical voice manifestation during classroom discourse, their views on other aspects of classroom learning environment support a constructivist learning environment and current science education reforms. The study postulates that a Uganda government policy to ‘vocationalize’ classroom experiences influenced participating science teacher educators’ perspectives on classroom learning environments.

There were no statistically significant correlations between their views on the three foundation areas investigated signifying that their perspectives on these areas are disconnected, incoherent and still evolving.

This study also reveals that science methods course syllabi had limited to no reference to the nature of science. Syllabi at National teachers colleges reflect participants’ views on preferred pedagogy and classroom learning environment better than University syllabi.

This being a pioneer study on Uganda science teacher educators’ perspectives, its findings have practical and theoretical implications for professional development, science teacher education curriculum and teaching reforms, and accreditation of science teacher education programs. These are critical professional strategies that can lead to a successful realization of science education reforms in Uganda.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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