Natural science teachers' understanding of the nature of science and how their understandings influence their instructional planning : a case study in Umsunduzi Circuit in KwaZulu-Natal.
Zulu, Barbara Duduzile.
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An adequate understanding of the nature of science (NOS) has become increasingly imperative for science teachers in South Africa as all-inclusive curricular developments over the past decade. The NOS is viewed as a central and critical component of scientific literacy in the science education reform. Therefore it is essential that teachers need to possess an adequate understanding of NOS so that the goals of the intended South African science curriculum of promoting scientific literacy is achieved. To achieve this vision, the introduction of Curriculum 2005 (C2005) in South Africa resulted in a shift from an outdated system of education of the apartheid era to Outcomes-Based Education (OBE), and it incorporated NOS as well. Therefore the purpose of this study is to explore Natural Sciences teachers’ understandings of NOS, and how they translate their understanding into classroom planning. This is a qualitative study. Using a case study approach, the research design for this study pivoted around the use of questionnaires Views of Nature of Science Form C (VNOSC) and interviewing teachers for their NOS understandings using VNOS-C follow-up interview protocol. It also uses their instructional documents to see if their lesson planning shows any explicit links to NOS. This study also employed the case study method since it intended to focus on the particular group, namely Grade 9 Natural Sciences teachers and using a conceptual framework of the core aspects of NOS, teachers’ naive and sophisticated understandings of NOS and explicit and implicit instruction to explore how teachers link their understanding and instructional planning. Therefore this study made use of qualitative data collection method and an interpretive analysis was then conducted. The purpose of the questionnaire was to probe Natural Sciences teachers’ understanding of NOS. Interviews were essential to probe the variety of instructional strategies planned to be used for NOS teaching and learning and documents were analyzed to probe a relationship between teachers’ NOS understanding and their instructional planning. The findings of the study suggest that even though the teachers possessed more adequate understandings of NOS, their planning for teaching was not influenced by their understanding of NOS. Another finding revealed that most of the teachers do not explicitly plan to teach NOS aspects it only happens incidentally and some of their teaching approaches can be described as implicit. The findings also suggest that teachers were not able to perceive NOS aspects stipulated in their work schedules. Teachers revealed that they are mostly depended on the textbooks including experimental procedures. Lastly this study concluded that the participants in this study have had little formal exposure to the NOS construct and its aspects.