Teacher Resources - Chapter 4 - Agenda Strategies


This chapter provides an historical perspective on science teaching, and provides detailed information on the major reform efforts influencing science education, especially the National Science Education Standards, and Project 2061 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

You can use Inquiry Activity 3.1 as an introductory activity to help you find out about your students' understanding and opinions of science teaching goals. Inquiry Activity 3.2 (Icons of science education) can be the major activity for the chapter and will enable each student to become an expert on one of several phases in the history of science education. Inquiry 3.3 can be used to illustrate the similarities and differences in contemporary science programs from those developed in the past.

Case to Consider: Fallacies as Norms

Based on a speech by Jonathan Osborne of Kings College, England in which he identifies a number of norms that drive contemporary science education, which turn out to be fallacies.

Inquiry Activity 3.1: The Goals of the Science Curriculum

What do your students think science should emphasize? What do they think should be the goals of science? That's what this inquiry is about.

We recommend you divide your class into three groups, and name them the elementary, middle and high school groups. Give each a set of goal cards (from the Inquiry Activity). Make one copy of the cards for each team, and have them cut them up to form a deck of 11 cards, each with a different goal.

Follow the procedures outlined in the inquiry. Have each team report their results to the whole class. What were the differences among the teams, e.g. elementary, middle and high school? Compare these results with the results that Weiss found.

Science Education Reports

We've reviewed two reports in this section of the chapter:

**Essential reports for your students---viewable online using the links above. I also recommend that you add to this list your own state education website with a link to the science curriculum standards.

These two reports have had tremendous impact on the science education community. Its impact has had a wide range of effect, not only for the classroom teacher, but for science educators and scientists developing proposals for funding from state and national agencies.

We recommend that your students become familiar with the Benchmarks document of Project 2061 and the National Science Education Standards. Both of these reports are used in subsequent chapters, especially with respect to the science curriculum, and the develop of teaching strategies and lesson plans.

You might use the Jigsaw strategy in your class while investigating the above reports. Assign a report to a different group in the class so that they become the "experts" on that report. Tell them that their assignment is to create visuals (poster, Powerpoint, webpage), and present the results to the class. Indicate that their job is show how the report/project can be practical in the development of curriculum and lesson plans. Their reports should not take more than 10 minutes.

Influence of Research on the Goals of Science Teaching

The rationale and direction of the reports that are outlined in the previous section are based (at least to some degree) on the work of researchers in the field of science education. Thus, this section in the chapter highlights that fact, as well as points out that in the Science Teacher Gazette of each chapter there is a column called Research Matters which are consumer-like research reports from a resource of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching called Peers Matter. The Peers Matters link is still not active, but you can access the earlier NARST Research Matters site.

History of Science Education

Preliminary Icons Activity: An activity we like to do with our classes (especially advanced graduate level courses) is a simplified version of the Icons of Science Education inquiry. In this simplified version, you will need 5 index cards (or Post-it notes) for each student; colored marking pens; a blank mural (tape together 4 or 5 large sheets of chart paper and tape to a wall in your classroom), masking tape. Draw three lines accross the width of the mural and label the lines science, technology and science education, respecitively. Ask your class for a few of examples (two or three) of icons---powerful discoveries, persons, instruments---that have influenced science, or technology, or science educatioin, e.g. invention of the telescope [1608], discovery of the structure of DNA [1953], Scopes Trial [1925]. The students may not know the exact date, but encourage them to give a + or - 10-15 years. After they get the idea, have them work individually to generate at least five icons. Have them consider the fields of science, technology and science education. If your classes are like mine, the science and technology categories will exceed what your students know about science education. When they have completed their list have them post their icons on the mural.


Science Education
The Mural Timeline: Tape together large pieces of chart paper and tape it to a wall in your classroom. Three concurrent timelines are stacked one on top of the other to compare the "History of Ideas" in science, technology and science education.

You should follow up with a discussion of the results. How does one field infuence the other? Are there relationships among the three that the students can identify?

Inquiry 3.2: Icons of Science Education: How Do They Tell the Story of Science Education?

We have divided the history of the development of ideas in science education into seven phases. If you can, divide your class into seven groups, assigning one phase to each group. Each team is to assemble icons from their assigned period. These can be exhibited on poster board or 3-panel posters, or if you build a class mural timeline, then each team can post their results there in the appropriate time frame on the timeline.

Phases include: (These can be the groups in your class)

I: The Roots of Modern Science Education, Pre-1900-1930

II: Progressive Education and Science, 1930-1950

III: The Golden Age of Science Educatioin, 1950-1977

IV: Textbook Controversies and Back to Basics, 1977-1983

V: A Nation At Risk, the 1980s

VI: The Reform Efforts of the 1990s: A Contrast with the Golden Age

VII: Science for All and the New Millennium

Students should use the inquiry questions to help them research their phase and find icons. The questions are the same for each phase.

Inquiry Activity 3.3: How Were Course Improvement Projects of the 1960s Different from the Reform Projects of the 1990s?

In this inquiry, your students can learn about and compare projects developed in the 1990s and are in use today, to the reform projects of The Golden Age in science education. The reform projects of the 1990s all have websites, so you can use them for the students to do their investigations. Select one project from the Golden Age, e.g. BSCS Biology and a reform project from the 1990s, e.g GLOBE and use the criteria in the text's Table to discuss the differences. You can use the questions in ghd procedures section on page 102 to guide your discussion. 


Think Pieces

Students are encouraged to think about how new developments in science education impact education.

Cases to Consider (on the Companion Site)

  • Case Study: Rehashing theSixties
    • In this case, Newsome Wave (a fictional character) challenges the AAAS Report (Science for All Americans) as being elitist, and seemingly remote from the business of real schools (a return to the 60s approach to science eduction, according to Wave). Rginald regis, coordinator of a western school district is an advocate of the report and wrote a blistering rebuttal to Wave's assertions. Students are asked to look at each side of this debate, and make their own positions known.
  • Case Study: New ScienceGoals---Just Another Fad
    • New approaches in education are sometimes viewed as fads by the general public. This case encourages students to look at the Project Synthesis proposals which include goals including personal needs, societal issues, academic knowledge and career education. STS in tone, this approach makes one parent "sick and tired" of these "new education fads."

Problems and Extensions

Three problems are outlined that engage students in exploring the goals and development of science education.


The readings will direct your students to practical resources related to the goals of science education, and the science standards.

On the Web

A collection of resources that link to key projects in the history of science education.