Improving Science Education: The Contribution of Research

Improving Science Education: The Contribution of Research

Improving Science Education: The Contribution of Research

Improving Science Education: The Contribution of Research


This book takes stock of where we are in science education research, and considers where we ought now to be going. It explores how and whether the research effort in science education has contributed to improvements in the practice of teaching science and the science curriculum. It contains contributions from an international group of science educators. Each chapter explores a specific area of research in science education, considering why this research is worth doing, and its potential for development. Together they look candidly at important general issues such as the impact of research on classroom practice and the development of science education as a progressive field of research.

The book was produced in celebration of the work of the late Rosalind Driver. All the principal contributors to the book had professional links with her, and the three sections of the book focus on issues that were of central importance in her work: research on teaching and learning in science; the role of science within the school curriculum and the nature of the science education we ought to be providing for young people; and the achievements of, and future agenda for, research in science education.


The relationship between research in science education and effective teaching in the framework of any educational system raises the question of the role of research in designing teaching situations. Such design for each domain of physics can be an endless task. In this chapter I present an approach to designing situations based on teaching and learning where the knowledge to be taught, students' understandings of that knowledge and teaching resources are each viewed as important, and with the potential to influence each other. The theoretical bases of such designs are first presented and then three types of situation are analysed.

Theoretical bases

The theoretical elaboration presented here has been developed following a series of empirical studies carried out in the COAST research group (France), with data mainly collected in classrooms during practical work at the upper secondary school level (Bécu-obinault 1997a, 1997b; Buty 1998; Le Maréchal 1999); it is also rooted in a collaboration with teachers (Gaidioz et al. 1998). The results obtained, together with theoretical approaches to modelling (Tiberghien 1994), to didactical situations (Brousseau 1988), and to didactical transposition (Chevallard 1991) constitute the main bases of this research-ased design of physics teaching situations.


First of all, it is necessary to note that in English, the single word 'knowledge' is the only one available, whereas in French there are two words:

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