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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 14
The Collaboration Peculiarities of Science Teachers

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The Collaboration Peculiarities of Science Teachers


It is clear that “learning is a process of construction in which the students themselves have to be the primary actors” (von Glasersfeld, 1995). By nowadays the view of the learner has changed from that of a passive recipient of knowledge to that of an active constructor of knowledge. It must be taken into account that “learning is a process of knowledge construction, not of knowledge recording or absorption” and “learning is knowledge-dependent; people use current knowledge to construct new knowledge” (Anthony, 1996).

Collaboration and cooperation of science teachers are very important components of process of teaching and learning. It is a first step to the constructive, integrated process of teaching. Without adequate cooperation it is not possible to reach the appropriate level of integration, except for internal integration of teaching subjects at a lesson. But in that case a degree of integration is not high enough. Collaboration of science teachers is possibly at all stages of educational process. For example, such collaboration is very effective by preparation of joint teaching / learning programs (curriculum) and concrete plans of activity. Collaboration depends on many factors, for example, the psychological microclimate in collective, motivation of teachers to work better, motivations of pupils and their interest to natural sciences in general. We need teachers to go beyond traditional school science with its emphasis on “key” concepts (Eisenhart, Finkel, & Marion, 1996) and focus also on the processes of learning and thinking about learning (Watters, James, Ginns, Ian, 2000).

Some schools are completely not ready to collaboration and science teachers mostly work individually, not aspiring to find new opportunities. Science teachers` collaboration with primary school teachers also is very important factor for improving of science teaching and learning process. It is effective step for preparation of young students for further learning in secondary school level. All science teachers must agree that:
For effective science teachers collaboration is important:
Nowadays an important way is “Discovery learning”. In this case collaboration of science teachers at school is as guarantor of efficacy of teaching / learning process. “Discovery Learning” requires that the teaching process should be divided into 4 steps (Xu, 2001):
  1. design a proper situation according to the content of the course and then explain the problem to be solved in the situation;
  2. the students provide possible solutions or hypotheses through various activities;
  3. the possible solutions are tested through theories and practice;
  4. discover new theories (or new knowledge).
Collaboration among teachers, administrators, a research institute and in-service activities allowedthe development of materials which reflect the students’ relationship with nature, promote responsible action, and are sensitive to the cultural aspects of the topic (Riquarts, Henning Hansen, 1998). Educational researchers (Ball, Runquist, 1993; Weinstein et al., 1991) have documented the central and critical role of collaboration in helping teachers understand new conceptions of teaching and in developing innovative clasroom practices. Also an important point is that collaboration reduces the isolation of teaching (Brickhouse, Schifter, 1991). One way to overcome this isolation and its pernicious effects is to create collaborative opportunities for professional development and learning during which teachers can obtain information, discuss ideas, classroom experiences and techniques, critique each other`s practices and support each other`s efforts (Hunsaker, Johnson, 1992). The effective forms of collaboration are (Blumenfeld, Krajcik, Marx, Soloway, 1994):
  1. work sessions and conversations via telecommunications;
  2. structured interviews that probed ideas about teaching and learning;
  3. case reports;
  4. school visits.

Modern ICT allows new forms of collaboration over time and place, bridging differences and breaking down spatial and temporal barriers. ICT allows teachers in diverse settings to collaborate.

Teachers need to plan what the program or service will look like (e.g., a peer tutoring program, a co-teaching service, a weekly team meeting), but they also need to prepare for the requirement of working together (Gable, Friend, Laycock, & Hendrickson, 1990).

Tasks (assignments)

  1. Define the following concepts:
    Collaboration - ...
    Cooperation -...

  2. Fill in the table:

    Science teachers’ objective/s for collaboration Factors determining the possibility of collaboration Factors determining the quality of collaboration Methods/forms of collaboration
    1. 1. 1. 1.
    2. 2. 2. 2.
    ... ... ... ...

Case study

In the curriculum for the next year, a school scheduled to ensure favourable conditions for students to study sciences using the method of Discovery Learning. Thus, 4 stages of similar teaching / learning mentioned in this chapter of the module were described. It is worth emphasizing that sciences at school are taught by the teachers having rather long work experience and pedagogical practice. Traditionally, they are tending to support individual activity.

Questions to Case Study

Having discussed the situation in groups, give recommendations that could be followed by the administration of the above mentioned school and the teachers of sciences in order to implement the principles of constructivistic teaching / learning corresponding to the process of teaching / learning sciences. Focus on the factors ensuring the efficiency of the teaching / learning process.


Cooperation (collaboration) among science teachers undoubtedly raises efficiency of teaching process. It is a first step to the constructive, integrated process of teaching. Without adequate cooperation it is not possible to reach the appropriate level of integration, except for internal integration of teaching subjects at a lesson. Teachers` collaboration in schools breaks the isolation of the classrooms. Collaboration is an important vehicle through which teachers can plan and carry out an array of services for students. One of the most promising benefits of teachers` collaboration is the increased opportunity it gives teachers to interact with one another regarding different teaching and learning issues. Specifically, teachers who collaborate are more likely to discuss with their colleagues areas of the curriculum they have difficulty teaching. The some more statements on collaboration among science teachers can be mentioned: collaboration has a direct impact on students; collaboration is becoming an essential ingredient in successful schools; collaboration is based on belief in the value of shared decision making, trust, and respect among participants; teachers collaborate only when they share a goal; teachers must make a personal choice to work collaboratively; collaboration is voluntary, not administratively mandated; each teacher participating in a collaborative effort contributes some type of resource; collaboration can only occur when it is associated with some program or activity that is based on the shared goals of the individuals involved etc. Collaboration with colleagues is helpful way for improvement of professional knowledge of science teachers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why the integrated teaching usually is difficult for teachers?

This is generally difficult for teachers, due to the lack of pre-service courses and material for integrated science teaching, disciplinary routines and a teacher-centered style of teaching and the exclusion of a variety of socially-oriented topics.

What is cooperative learning?

Cooperative learning is a successful teaching strategy in which small teams, each with students of different ability levels, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject, for example, science.

Next Reading

Baud, D., & Feletti, G. (1998). The challenge of problem-based learning (2nd ed.). London: Kogan Page.

Bauwens, J., Hourcade, J. J., & Friend, M. (1989). Cooperative teaching: A model for general and special education integration. Remedial and Special Education, 10(2), 17-22.

Borko, H., & Mayfield, V. (1995). The roles of the cooperating teacher and university supervisor in learning to teach. Teaching and Teacher Education, 11, p. 501-518.

Czerniak, C. M., & Lumpe, A. T. (1996). Relationship between teacher beliefs and science education reform. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 7(4), 247-266.

Friend, M., & Cook, L. (1990). Collaboration as a predictor for success in school reform. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 1 (1), 69- 86.

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

Lamanauskas V., Vilkonienė M., Vilkonis R. (2007). Conceptual Reasoning for Didactics of Augmented Reality Teaching /Learning Platform: Some Preliminary Ideas. Gamtamokslinis ugdymas / Natural Science Education, No. 2(19), p. 17-26.


Anthony, G. (1996). Active learning in a constructivist framework. Educational studies in mathematics, 31, 349-369.

Ball, D.L., Runquist, S.S. (1993). Collaboration as a context for joining teacher learning with learning about teaching. In. D.K. Cohen, M.W. McLaughlin, J.E. Talbert (Eds.), Teaching for understanding: Challenges for policy and practice (pp. 13-42). San Francisco.

Blumenfeld, P.C., Krajcik, J.S., Marx, R., Soloway, E. (1994). Lessons learned: how collaboration helped middle grade science teachers learn project-based instruction. The Elementary School Journal, Vol. 94, No. 5, p. 539-551.

Gable, R. A., Friend, M., Laycock, V. K., & Hendrickson, J. M. (1990). Interview skills for problem identification in school consultation. Preventing School Failure, 35(1), 5- 10.

von Glasersfeld, E. (1995). Learning Mathematics: Constructivist and interactionist theories of mathematical development, Review of the book Learning Mathematics: Constructivist and Interactionist Theories of Mathematical Development, P. Cobb (Ed.), in Zentralblatt fur Didaktik der Mathematik, 4, 120-122.

Eisenhart, M., Finkel, E., & Marion, S. F. (1996). Creating the conditions for scientific literacy: A re-examination. American Educational Research Journal, 33(2), p. 261-295.

Riquarts, K., Henning Hansen, K. (1998). Collaboration among teachers, researchers and in-service trainers to develop an integrated science curriculum. Journal of Curriculum Studies, Vol.30, No.6, p. 661-676.

Xu, H. (2001). The theory and philosophy, anthropology basis of creative education. Educational Research, 1, p. 10-14.

Watters, James, J, and Ginns, Ian, S (2000). Developing motivation to teach elementary science: Effect of collaborative and authentic learning practices in preservice education. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 11(4), p. 277-313.

Weinsten, R.S., at all (1991). Expectations and high school change: Teacher – researcher collaboration to prevent school failure. American Journal of Community Psychology, 19, p. 333-402.