Science Education - research group
Science Education, locally, nationally and internationally is facing a decline in participation despite a growing need for a scientifically literate population and workforce. While the aim of many science curricula around the world have scientific literacy as their major aim, there appears to be little effort to take this seriously by curriculum developers, teachers, students and more importantly political decision-makers.
Our guiding question is: “Why should students study science?” Given that approximately 90% of the population currently do not fit the traditional knowledge and skills base required for a traditional base of science education, some significant research needs to be undertaken about science learning that:
Another serious consideration is that the current generation of science educators (primary, secondary and tertiary) have experiences of science that have been more traditional in nature and so there needs to be some serious research into science pedagogy and teacher change in order to find ways of creating a better match with the goals of science education (which consistently remain high priorities on the political agenda – particularly as played out in ARC priorities). Building on this then is an important question: “What comprises the professional knowledge base of science educators and how might this influence the nature of learning in science?” This larger question includes such other questions such as: how relevant is the implemented curriculum in meeting the needs of learners of contemporary science?; What pedagogies are needed to create a successful science classroom?, and What mechanisms assist in promoting teacher change that align better with the goals of science education?
A third question is: “How can the research in science education inform policy in science and science education?” One of the weakest links in the research-practice-policy triangle is the lack of interaction between research and practice and its consequence for influencing policy. The science education group at Monash has demonstrated a strong capacity to undertake both pure and applied research thus creating a reputation for strengthening the links between research and practice. A new direction of the group will be focussed on influencing policy, which has begun with projects such as the DEECD Science Continuum and the CEO in science teacher research capacity building. With the national curriculum and accountability systems being introduced on a national level, such policy-directed research will become even more critical in the future.