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Placing the History and the Philosophy of Science on Teacher Education.

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Recent research indicated that teachers conceive and orient their teaching depending (among others things) on their conceptions about both the nature of science and the construction of the scientific knowledge. This is an important educational issue because the image generally held by students sees science simply as a rhetoric of conclusions. Science teaching strategies designed in line with the principles of the "new philosophy of science," e.g. emphasizing the context of discovery of scientific ideas (and not simply the context of justification of those ideas), methodological pluralism and the human and social side of science (STS relationships), are usually ignored. Part of the problem lies in inadequate teacher education strategies. Thus the aim of the study was to design, to develop and to evaluate an innovative teacher education program exploring the History and the Philosophy of Science (HPS) in order to improve the teaching and learning of mass conservation in chemical reactions, a key curricular theme in Portuguese secondary teaching and also a relevant historical and cultural topic of study. The main hypothesis was that it is possible to develop in-service teacher education strategies based on the HPS to promote adequate epistemological perspectives of science teachers. The research design followed was organized in three interrelated steps: a naturalistic phase (over 40 hours of teaching of two secondary teachers were video recorded and analyzed); a second phase concerning the teacher education program itself exploring action-research strategies and involving the design of new teaching plans and the construction of new didactic materials; the third phase in which the new teaching strategies were then implemented by the two teachers. Evidences of the evolution of the epistemological perspectives underlying teachers' practices from the first to the third phase are presented together with examples of the use of the HPS in the three methodological categories of analysis: scientific methodology, dynamics of the construction of scientific knowledge and the human and social face of science. The results of a triangular evaluation of the program (external observer, students and teachers self-evaluation) is also presented. We can conclude that the teacher education program developed exploring HPS was able to improve the teaching of the chosen topic, in particular making the students more aware of images of science congruent with the principles of the "new philosophy of science." (Contains 27 references.) (Author/YDS)

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Author:Cachapuz, Antonio F.; Paixao, Fatima
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Date:Jul 1, 2002
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