College Science Teaching Changing to Mirror Real Science in Turkish Higher Education

By Yager, Robert; Kaya, Osman Nafiz et al. | Journal of College Science Teaching, July-August 2007 | Go to article overview

College Science Teaching Changing to Mirror Real Science in Turkish Higher Education


Yager, Robert, Kaya, Osman Nafiz, Dogan, Alev, Journal of College Science Teaching


College science is often poorly taught and it is rare that any consideration is given to the nine visions for reform of science teaching featured in the National Science Education Standards (NSES) (NRC 1996, p. 52). It is even more rare to see interdisciplinary science courses taught in colleges. At many universities, this is changing where there are Science-Technology-Society (STS) enthusiasts. For example, Clemson University (Cheek 2006) is struggling with developing such courses as part of their general education requirements for all undergraduates and similar changes are occurring in Turkish higher education.

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Science teacher education in Turkey

There are currently 37 universities in Turkey that have middle school science teacher education programs; Gazi University in Ankara is one of these. Specifically, the middle school science teacher education program is a four-year program, which started in 1991. Because of the lack of financial resources and such a huge number of teacher candidates, "chalk and talk" has been the dominant teaching method in the program. Many times the lectures are dependent on handwritten notes that are prepared for the students in the courses. These notes are very short summaries of the basic ideas taken from articles and textbooks from relevant European and American sources. They represent what the instructors for the courses expect all students to know for examinations.

In 1997, a new science/technology course was initiated and required as part of the university general education curriculum at Gazi. It was planned as a response to a government edict that required all middle school science teachers to "make all students literate about science and technology" (TMNE 2005). The course was seen as "the role of science teachers and leaders to achieve this goal by encouraging all to understand the interactions of science and technology with each other in society" (Turgut et al. 1997).

Unfortunately, the content of this STS course at Gazi (and other Turkish universities) was varied and based in a large part on the particular interests of the faculty scheduled to teach such a course. Little research was undertaken to measure the outcomes of the required STS courses for future middle school science teachers. Further, it was taught using traditional modes of instruction where the teacher transmitted information orally to passive learners. This report is one attempt at Gazi University to improve the teaching practices that characterize STS, as defined by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) in its official position paper on STS (NSTA 2005).

Setting up the special section of the required course

A new form of teaching, the Triadic Teaching Approach (TTA), was implemented for fulfilling the STS requirement by one of the instructors of the five STS sections offered at Gazi--each taught by different professors. The first part of the TTA course is an identification of basic science and technology problems on which small groups of students can work. The second aspect is to offer campus-based symposia reporting on the results gathered to resolve the problem(s) revealed by research. A third phase is to have all student groups prepare poster sessions high-lighting their work. After two years of debate, planning, and teaching for this new STS course, a follow-up evaluation was undertaken; this is a report of the results that include: (1) basing teaching-learning procedures on a constructivist approach, which encouraged the active participation of students in the learning process, (2) dealing with basic scientific concepts including technological dimensions, and (3) using alternative evaluation approaches, also based on a constructivist approach.

Forty-three final-year science teacher candidates (24 females and 19 males, ages 22-23) enrolled in the new course during the 2003-2004 academic year. There were no differences in terms of gender, prior experience with science, and ability as indicated by grade point and/or scores on entrance examinations.

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