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Science teachers' knowledge development in the context of educational innovation

The research reported in this thesis is concerned with the knowledge development of a small sample of experienced science teachers in the context of a broad innovation in Dutch secondary education, including the introduction of a new syllabus on Public Understanding of Science.

Ineke Henze
21 November 2006
Fulltext in Leiden University Repository

The aim of the study was to make a contribution to instruments and theory on the development of teacher knowledge in the context of educational reform. The outcomes of such research will lead to an understanding of how innovators and curriculum developers can take teacher knowledge into account in designing and implementing future educational innovations.


The results of the present study indicate that the teachers’ knowledge development in the context of the introduction of the new science syllabus was influenced by their initial knowledge and beliefs (e.g. pedagogical perspectives, ideas about the new syllabus, and (lack of) relevant subject matter knowledge), personal factors (e.g., predominant learning styles) and contextual factors (e.g. colleagues, school organization). Based on their knowledge and beliefs, the teachers appeared to have designed curricula with regard to the new syllabus showing great diversity in subjects and instruction methods.

To take the teachers’ knowledge into account, future science innovations should be organized flexibly to leave room for individual teachers (and schools) to make their own choices. Given the finding that the teachers developed their knowledge in qualitatively different ways, professional development efforts in the context of future innovations should take differences between teachers as a starting point, rather than adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

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