Understanding a Pakistani Science Teacher's Practice through a Life History Study
Halai, Nelofer, The Qualitative Report
The purpose of the single case life history study was to understand a female science teacher's conceptions of the nature of science as explicit in her practice. While this paper highlights these understandings, an additional purpose is to give a detailed account of the process of creating a life history account through more than 13 in-depth interviews. It includes a discussion of what the author calls composite observations where the observations of the teacher and the researcher are presented as a single unified story. Also discussed are ethical issues specific to life history created due to the intimacy created by such a study that required the development of a great deal of trust and rapport. Key Words: Life History, Nature of Science, Teaching and Learning in Science, and Single Case Study
Science teachers bring together different kinds of knowledge such as science content knowledge, knowledge about science, knowledge of the curriculum, knowledge of the system of education, and most important, pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, l986, 1987). Connelly and Clandinin (1988) refer to this complex and interconnected array of knowledge as personal practical knowledge. This is not a body of pre-existing knowledge to be brought forth when required. Rather it is transient and situated knowledge which is "experiential, value laden and oriented to practice" (Clandinin, 1986, p. 19). Teachers are involved in making many decisions before, during, and after classroom teaching. The basis on which teachers choose to do one thing rather than another is based on their experiences and what sense they have made of them. Hence, it follows that teachers' life experiences have a deep and abiding effect on the kind of teachers they become. However, what is important is that it is not only professional experiences but all life experiences whether inside or outside the classroom that influence and shape this decision-making process. Hence, it is important to see teachers' lives holistically, particularly when offering professional development because when teacher-educators ask teachers to change their practice, in essence they are asking them to change their lives (Louden, 1991).
This is the rationale for this particular research study. In this paper you meet Munazza Sheikh, a science teacher who works in Karachi Model Secondary School (KMSS) which is a private, afternoon-shift, English-medium and co-educational school for children from middle-income families in Karachi, Pakistan. All teachers, students, administrators and names of institutions mentioned in this paper are pseudonyms to maintain confidentiality. Munazza has completed her Bachelors of Science and at the time of the study she was engaged in completing her Master's in Islamic History. She has had no teacher education as it is not a requirement for private schools in Pakistan. She has been teaching science for seven years, three of them at KMSS. She was teaching science to grades 7, 8, and 9 and also taught Islamiyat (the study of Islam) to grade 8.
The purpose of this single case life history study was to ascertain a female science teacher's conceptions of the nature of science explicit in her practice in a school in Pakistan, develop an understanding of her practice of teaching science, and determine how the teacher's life history has affected her practice. While teaching science, a teacher projects messages about the nature of science that can be captured by observations and interviews. Furthermore, the manner in which a teacher conceptualizes science for teaching, at least in part, depends on personal life experiences. Hence, I have used the life history method to understand Munazza's practice. I have selected this method because life history allows observation of individuals and how "they act within, respond to, and represent their times and places by presenting both individual life stories and analyses of how social patterns shape those lives" …
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Publication information: Article title: Understanding a Pakistani Science Teacher's Practice through a Life History Study. Contributors: Halai, Nelofer - Author. Journal title: The Qualitative Report. Volume: 16. Issue: 4 Publication date: July 2011. Page number: 1034+. © 2009 Nova Southeastern University, Inc. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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