chapter  36
46 Pages

Research on Science Teacher Knowledge

BySandra K. Abell

It is commonly held that the teacher is the most important factor in student learning (Committee on Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation, 2001). We who educate future and practicing teachers assume the veracity of this statement. However, what characteristics of teachers are crucial to student learning? Do teachers who know more science make better science teachers? If this were true, surely the best science teaching would take place at the university level by individuals who possess a Ph.D. in their science field. Yet we know that this is not necessarily so; university science students cite poor teaching as one of the main reasons for dropping out of science majors (National Science Foundation, 1996). What should science teachers know in addition to subject matter knowledge? What do future and practicing science teachers know and how do they come to know it? How does their knowledge interact with beliefs, goals, and values? How does their knowledge affect their practice and their students’ learning? Such questions have generated a plethora of research in science education.