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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Connecting the dots of a moving image : future teachers' undergraduate experiences with science Bergere, Trudy Leigh


Elementary students are taught science by teachers from social sciences and humanities backgrounds, begging the question about when and how these elementary teachers learn science content. This study explores the experiences of four future teachers in Bachelor of Arts (BA) science elective courses. More specifically, in terms of their perspectives as non-science majors learning science, their conceptions about the nature of science, and their views about how activities in their university classroom might apply to their future careers. The methodological framework borrows from Giorgi’s phenomenological inquiry as one way to interrogate students’ experiences in a university science course. Aikenhead’s Border Crossing perspective emerged as an interpretive frame to understand student’s experiences as lived. Data collected from interviews and personal journal testimonies led to individual stories about four future teachers, represented by unique metaphors from the natural world. The stories are not the same, nor is there an intention to represent universal generalizations about all future teachers. The analysis resulted in the generation of a Structures Table that locates particular characteristics or traits of aspiring teachers across a spectrum of possibilities that might be informative for science education instructors responsible for similar programs or courses. In addition, interpretation of Aikenhead’s Border Crossing perspective prompted the creation of a Border Crossing map that might also be of use to science educators. Further, the analysis illustrated that the participants: held preconceptions that learning science was hard, complex, and boring; perceptions of science varied between something independent of human perception to something that was embedded in the culture in which it was constructed; social science backgrounds and their interest in environmental issues influenced how they viewed the usefulness of scientific knowledge; felt that learning science is most effective through direct, hands-on activities; and were most engaged when they could make direct connections between the content of the courses and their future career as classroom teachers. Attention to improving science learning for future teachers during the earliest phase of their university experiences may facilitate developing teachers of science who pass on their vision of science as a tentative, subjective, creative and socio-cultural pursuit.

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