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Improving Quality of Science Teacher Training in European Cooperation

  Assessing Science for Understanding (CZ) Training Module Based on Socio-cognitive Constructivism (CY) European Dimension in Integrated Science Education (LT) Development Procedural Skills in Science Education (BG) Using Laboratory to Enhance Student Learning and Scientific Inquiry (TR)  
Unit 1 - A Conception of Integrated Science Education Unit 2 - Some Philosophic, Didactic and Social Aspects of Integrated Science Education Unit 3 - The Main Tendencies of Integrated Science Education Development Unit 4 & Unit 5 - Integrated Science Education in the Context of the Constructivism Theory
Unit 6 - The Models of Integrated Science Education Unit 7 - The Integrated Science Education Curricula and its Designing Principles in Comprehensive School Unit 8 - The Science Education Tools and Ways of Producing them in the Collaboration Process Unit 9 & Unit 10 - A Constructivist Approach to Integrated Science Education: Teaching Would-be Teachers to do Science
Unit 11 & Unit 12 - Contextual Teaching and Learning of Integrated Science in Lower and Upper Secondary Schools Unit 13 - The Evaluation Strategies of Integrated Science Teaching / Learning Unit 14 - The Collaboration Peculiarities of Science Teachers  

Unit 11 & Unit 12
Contextual Teaching and Learning of Integrated Science in Lower and Upper Secondary Schools

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Contextual Teaching and Learning of Integrated Science in Lower and Upper Secondary Schools

The Specificities of Integrated Science Teaching in Lower and Upper Secondary School


Natural science education is usually integrated in forms 5 and 6 of basic school. Obviously, this is a crucial period as:

A.Blum (1994) notices that integrated science curricula differ in the degree to which they are integrated, with distinctions being made between coordination, combination, and amalgamation (full integration) (p.2901).

Pedagogy literature, obviously, debates and assesses various integrated teaching aspects of teaching, didactics and methodology. Different authors have unlike approaches to this issue. A part of them (Naumčenko, 1996; Makarkin, 1996; Kiričiok, 1997, etc.) agree that education space has to exist as the organic wholeness. The majority of the representatives of American educology (Boyer, 1983; Goodlad, 1983; Collins, 1989; Brown, 1989, etc.) encourage the integration of education, work and free time. However, one of the questions holds no discussions – the teacher plays a key role in the educational process. Teaching quality directly determines pupils’ learning (Sandoval, 1995), and therefore teachers themselves have to know more about the styles of teaching / learning and diverse ways of work organization (Vaitkevičius, 1995; Eric V. Tsang, 1997; Gedrovics, 1997). The problems of a different format of integrated curricula exist. For example, most of the countries have the so called curricula of humanities and natural sciences (in higher forms). Lithuanian comprehensive school that gives secondary education started profiled teaching in 2000-2001. The problem remains the same – teaching natural sciences in profiled school. According to J. Gedrovics (1997), the preparation process of the integrated curriculum should evaluate that an integrated course is not a simple mixture of topics of chemistry, physics or biology. Therefore, priority has to be given to the integrated style of teaching (Gedrovics, 1997). A. Tõldsepp and V.Toots (2003) prefer balanced curricula (there should be a balance between governmental and non-governmental, formal and informal education, between subject oriented and student oriented teaching, algorithmic and non-algorithmic activities). V.Dabrišienė (1997) maintains that the curricula of integrated teaching must satisfy the following requirements:

P.Shlesinger also pays attention to the teacher. He says that the role of the teacher becomes even more significant in the process of integrated teaching as teachers have to cooperate, take decisions, look for effective methods to retain teaching material for a longer period of time (Shlesinger, 1996). The importance of the teacher to successful systemic (integral) teaching is stressed by a number of authors (Fink, 1985; Risholm, 1997; Johannessen, 1997; Mikalsen, 1997; Gedrovics, 1997, etc.). P.Jarvis supposes that the integration of educational subjects should guarantee reflective (involved) teaching/learning through practic experience. Therefore, the author treats learning in a different way. P.Jarvis understands learning as changes of behaviour, as the result of experience and practice (Jarvis, 1993). Z.Alaunienė is certain that, “no matter how good the educational curricula or textbooks should be designed the final integration depends on the teacher. Only s/he observes how a student perceives and acquires knowledge, only s/he coordinates training, gives assignments to develop the learner’s abilities and skills” (Alaunienė, 1991). Along integrated education the teacher has enormous influence on schoolchildren. With awareness and analysis of the format of this influence the teacher can be the best to notice what should be changed or improved in the process of integrated education. In this case, regular contemplation of personal activities and competence, self-assessment, understanding of the permanent alteration of educational paradigms is necessary.

Most educators would agree that the basic tenets of constructivism describe the way we have "always known that people learn." Still some teachers resist constructivist pedagogy.

Teacher education programs must begin to foster in beginning teachers of all disciplines new images of collaboration, involvement, and inquiry-images of classroom environments where students of all cultures engage in interdisciplinary activities and construct knowledge rooted in their own personal experiences.

Researchers agreed that it is important to improve science teaching in comprehensive school. For improving it is necessary to (Chi, 1992; Diakidoy, Kendeou, 2001; Smith, Maclin, Grosslight, Davis, 1997):
  1. explicitly talk about preliminary everyday knowledge to make it conscious;
  2. show the inconsistencies between everyday and scientific explanations and their reasons;
  3. verbally teach the new explanations and give time to think and discuss about them;
  4. use models and analogies to enhance the understanding.

We consider that integrated teaching, if involved into the sociocultural context, will help the student to comprehend the causal relations. It will develop the personality and form moral orientations and standpoints together with habits to independently apply the acquired knowledge in real life situations. Such teaching and learning are characterized by integrity. Integrated teaching diminishes inconsistencies between the knowledge that separate subjects impart as well as the necessity and inevitability of the synthesis. The only fact of presenting the content is not the essence of teaching. The main point is work, a widely sided and motivated activity. In order to direct the teaching process in the desirable direction, it is imperative to encourage the motivation for learning. In this respect the principle moment cannot be neglected. A student cannot only master but also apply the basic knowledge in practice. Therefore, the duty of every teacher is to reveal and show to the students their potential powers (Lamanauskas, 2003).

Tasks (assignments)

  1. What are the specificities of science education at the stages of primary and secondary education? How is the significance of science education expressed at the above mentioned stages?
  2. With reference to the principles of constructivistic teaching / learning, knowledge of psychology at different age stages and / or practical experience, reason the idea presented in learning material that a sensual – affective component is still prevailing. Effective natural sciences teaching based on children’s intellect is not the only and the foremost task.
  3. Define teacher’s role teaching an integrated course on sciences in the forms of lower and upper secondary school.
  4. Describe different integration stages of sciences: coordination, combination and amalgamation (A. Blum, 1994). Put the above introduced levels of integration considering a degree of integration starting from the lowest one:

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Case study

As it was mentioned in the above presented theoretical material of the module, profiled teaching in Lithuania was introduced in 2001. On the basis of the previously mentioned provisions for learning, the integrated course on sciences is devoted to the upper secondary school students of forms 11 and 12 preferring a humanitarian profile of learning and interested in choosing the follow-up studies or types of professional activities other than sciences. This course concentrates on modern achievements in sciences, life experience and environmental problems. All topics are examined in broad outline, the evolution of sciences is described as a method of acknowledging nature, the issues of personal and public life are emphasized, natural phenomena, scientific ideas and experiments are given more thorough analysis. The integrated course on sciences is devoted to help a learner with pursuing general science education and developing the ability to distinguish between scientific and non-scientific issues as only a sufficiently sophisticated person can be actively involved in solving the problems of a modern country. The course assists the learners in perceiving the significance of sustainable development ideas and protecting biosphere and the quality of public life.

Questions to Case Study

  1. What is the degree of the integration (A. Blum, 1994) of sciences discussed in the above presented example? Reason your position.
  2. What extent of science content should be presented to the students of the humanitarian profile?

Contextual Teaching and Learning (CTL) integrates inquiry, problem- and project-based learning, cooperative learning. Contextual teaching and learning undoubtedly is consistent with a constructivist approach for the teaching of science in secondary schools. Contextual science teaching usually include inquiry learning, problem-based learning, cooperative learning, project-based learning, and authentic assessment. It is obvious, that learners and contexts differ, there can be no single best approach for the teaching of science. Effective teaching and learning in science requires a variety of approaches.

Frequently Asked Questions

How students learn science? How this process is going on?
The most researchers agree that:
Next Reading

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Brooks, J. G. & Brooks, M. G. (1993). The case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Hacker, R. G. (1984). A typology of approaches to science teaching in schools. International Journal of Science Education, Vol. 6, Issue 2, p. 153-167.

Kahle, Jane Butler, Riley, D. (1993). Gender differences in science education: building a model. Educational Psychologist, Vol. 28, Issue 4, p. 379-405.

Lamanauskas V. (2003). Natural Science Education in Comprehensive School. Siauliai: Siauliai University Press, p. 514.

Richardson, V. (1997). Constructivist teaching and teacher education: Theory and practice. In V. Richardson (Ed.), Constructivist teacher education: Building a world of new understandings (pp. 3-14). Bristol, PA: Falmer.


Alaunienė Z. (1991). Mokymo turinio integracijos problemos. Tautinė mokykla, Nr.7, P.16-18.

Blum A. (1994). Integrated and General Science. In.: T.Husen, T.N.Postlethwaite (eds.) The International Encyclopedia of Education, Vol.5, P. 2897-2903.

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Brown J.S., Collins A., Duguid P. (1989). Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, Vol.18 (1), P. 32-41.

Chi, M. (1992). Conceptual change within and across ontological categories: Examples from learning and discovery in science. In: R. Giere (Ed.) Cognitive models of science. Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science, 15 (pp. 129-187). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Dabrišienė V. (1997). Integruoto ugdymo programų principai ir jų sudarymo modelis. Kn.: Edukologija. Kalbotyra. Literatūrologija (I respublikinės doktorantų ir jų mokslinių vadovų konferencijos medžiaga). Vilnius, p. 145-149.

Diakidoy, I.-A., & Kendeou, P. (2001). Facilitating conceptual change in astronomy: A comparison of the effectiveness of two instructional approaches. Learning and Instruction, 11, 1-20.

Goodlad J.I. (1983). A Place Called School: Prospects for the Future. New York.

Jarvis P. (1993). The Learning Process and Late Modernity. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, Vol.37 (3), P. 179-190.

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