Science through the camera lens : some learners' perceptions of science.
The role of science education is to pass on knowledge and understanding of science and its practices to learners. Learners' perceptions of science should therefore reflect those of the scientific community. The purpose of this study was to establish if learners in one South African school shared nature of science views common to the scientific community. Two key questions framed this study: What are learners' perceptions of the nature of science? and What are learners' perceptions of science within the context of their daily lives? Quantitative data was collected using a cartoon-style questionnaire to address the first research question. Qualitative data was collected from a photographic activity in which learners were asked to take photographs of science within the context of their daily lives and offer explanations of why the photographic images were representations of science. This qualitative data was used to address the second research question and map out more fully the complexity of learners' perceptions of the nature of science. The findings of this study point towards a blur between learners' perceptions of science and their perceptions of technology and provide evidence that learners' perceptions of the nature of science are inadequate. However, this study also provides evidence to suggest learners do share some nature of science views with the scientific community. The findings of this study also lend support to the argument that the learning of science should involve an explicit initiation into the culture of science. This study is a grassroots account of some attempts to include the nature of science construct within learning programs. It is simply a snapshot of what happened in one South African secondary school at the cusp of curriculum change, a collection of learners' perceptions of science captured on film and an insight into some learners' perceptions of the nature of science.