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Effective Teaching Strategies in Science

In a study by Walan and McEwen (2016), it was suggested that there is a need for more
research to be undertaken in relation to making the learning area of science more engaging and
relatable to students. The study emphasised the use of new teaching strategies that move toward
more student-oriented education using inquiry- and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK)
approaches. In the same study, it noted that the reason for student’s disengagement in science at
school was due to a lack of relevance combined with pedagogy that was tried and tested and
lacked variation. A study by Crook (2016) found similar results, science was not being taught in
an effective manner in primary schools and this was the reason why science is so often
overlooked and taken out of the weekly timetable as many teachers are not equipped with the
appropriate pedagogical skills to effectively teach science. In the majority of the studies
researched, the two most frequent teaching strategies were inquiry-based learning and PCK
teaching strategies. These two strategies will be discussed further in this summary.

Inquiry-Based Learning
A study by Furtak, Seidel, Iverson and Briggs (2012) discusses that inquiry-based
teaching in science is students drawing upon their scientific knowledge to ask scientifically
oriented questions, collect and analyze evidence from scientific investigations, develop
explanations of scientific phenomena, and communicate those explanations with their teacher
and peer. Furtak et al. (2012) mention the critics of this teaching strategy suggest that it doesn’t
allow students to successfully grasp concepts and procedures in science as the lack of teaching
from the actual teacher allows for more information to not be retained. It is Furtak et al. (2012)
who counters this argument by introducing the idea that students who are capable themselves to
conduct and complete such tasks as science experiments, fair tests, research and other procedures
will be more likely to be more competent in this learning area as it relates back to their intrinsic
motivation. It also must be noted that this teaching strategy is not simply the teacher giving the
students a task and then sitting back and watching. The teacher must be a facilitator and
constantly be discussing, motivating and challenging ideas raised in the science classroom.
Pedagogical Content Knowledge Teaching Strategy
Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) was highly regarded in the literature as it is “the
blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular topics, problems, or
issues are organized, represented, and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners,
and presented for instruction” (Shulman 1987, p. 8, as cited in Walan, Nilsson & McEwen,
2017). PCK is also a strategy in which teachers overtime learn different pedagogical methods
that allow them to successfully educate students on specific topics and concepts. Having a wide
range of methods and strategies is crucial in keeping students engaged and being able to allow
students to realise for themselves how important science is.
This can and should be done by making these pedagogical methods relatable to real life,
by giving student content-based lessons has proven that they are more likely to engage in and
will influence especially what teachers will notice in their plenary activities (Walan, Nilsson &
McEwen, 2017). In a study by Schneider and Plasman (2011), it also mentions that preparing
science teachers who have an excellent understanding of the content themselves is crucial for
students to be able to succeed in the science classroom. Schneider and Plasman (2011) suggest
the notion of learning progress. Learning progressions are what teachers should be consistently
doing in relation to the different learning areas, it is through consistent research into different
pedagogical methods and strategies based on the science content that it allows the students the
best chance to being successful in the learning area.

It must be noted that the research was extremely consistent with the notion of
successfully teaching science through an inquiry-based and PCK strategy. It highlighted that
these strategies have been proven to develop not only scientific knowledge in students but also
extend the pedagogical knowledge of teachers. It is the combination of allowing students to
engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate on their own and using the knowledge of the
teacher which will best aid them in being successful science teachers.

Crook, S. (2016) Five ways to win with the new science & technology K-6 syllabus. Science
Education News. 65(1), 65-67. Retrieved from https://search-informit-com
Furtak, E., Seidel, T., Iverson, H., & Briggs, D. (2012). Experimental and Quasi-Experimental
Studies of Inquiry-Based Science Teaching: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational
Research, 82(3), 300-329. Retrieved from
Schneider, R., & Plasman, K. (2011). Science teacher learning progressions: A review of science
teachers' pedagogical content knowledge development. Review of Educational
Research, 81(4), 530-565. Retrieved from
Walan, S., & McEwen, B. (2016) Primary teachers’ reflections on inquiry and context-based
Science Education. Research in Science Education. 47(2), 407-426. https://doi
Walan, S., Nilsson, P., & McEwen, B. (2017) Why inquiry? primary teachers’ objectives in
choosing inquiry- and context-Based instructional strategies to stimulate students’
science learning. Research in Science Education. 47(5), 1055-1074. https://doi