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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Kara Kits
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Mallinson Institute for Science Education
Title: An Exploration of Worldview and Conceptions of Nature of Science among Science Teachers at a Private Christian High School
Dr. Bill Cobern, Chair
Dr. Renee’ Schwartz
Dr. David Rudge
Dr. Loren Haarsma
Date: Monday, September 12, 2011 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
2734 Wood Hall
Both worldview and conceptions of nature of science (NOS) are important components in teaching and learning science. However, few empirical studies have examined the interplay between both of these components for teachers or students. Therefore, this study examines the possible relationship between worldview and conceptions of nature of science for secondary science teachers who currently teach at a Christian school.
Qualitative methodologies developed a rich description of the worldview beliefs and conceptions of NOS for teachers in this study. Eight secondary science teachers employed at a private Christian school participated in the study. A Views of Nature of Science (VNOS) questionnaire and follow-up interviews elicited participants’ conceptions of NOS. A semi-structured interview and Test of Preferred Explanations (TOPE) questionnaire elicited participants’ worldview beliefs regarding nature and the natural world and causality.
Participants communicated understandings of NOS that ranged from uninformed to informed in various aspects. In addition, while their worldview beliefs and conceptions of NOS reflected their faith beliefs, participants did not have a less informed view of NOS than other science teachers in previous studies. In fact, for several aspects of NOS, these participants articulated more informed conceptions of NOS than participants in previous studies.
For these participants, faith did not appear to interfere with their ability to think scientifically in regards to their worldview beliefs regarding nature and causality. Rather, faith was incorporated into a scientifically compatible worldview regarding nature and causality that is not much different from other teachers. Other than the fact that these science teachers integrated their faith beliefs into some of their responses regarding worldview and NOS, these teachers did not appear to be much different from other science teachers. That is, there was no predictable pattern between worldview beliefs regarding nature and causality and conceptions of NOS. Therefore, this study provides empirical evidence that it is not necessary to be “devoid” of religious beliefs in order to have a scientifically informed view of the world. Teachers with religious convictions can have very scientific view of the world in terms of their worldview beliefs regarding nature and the natural world and conceptions of NOS.