Philosophy of science in relation to curricular and pedagological issues : a study of science teachers' opinions and their implications
This study sought to capture how science teachers view scientific knowledge from a philosophical-epistemological perspective. The philosophical themes investigated were scientific method, criteria of demarcation, patterns of scientific change and problems related with the construction of reality. Furthermore, an attempt was made to investigate the relation teachers' views on these matters both to certain curricular issues (the question of integration and the meaning of the terms "content" and "process") and to some pedagogical issues (assumptions about learning, instruction and aspects of classroom activities). For this purpose, a framework was proposed for the analysis of the relevant issues. This framework consists of a number of distinctions. These distinctions were organised employing the technique of systemic network analysis, so as to lay the basis not only for the construction of the research instrument but also for the analysis of the empirical evidence. The epistemological systems taken into account in the a-priori analysis are: inductivism, hypothetico-deductivism (Popper, Lakatos), contextualism (Kuhn) and relativism (Feyerabend). At the ontological level, the contrast is mainly focused on the differences between idealism and realism (pragmatism is also included). Three stages can be distinguished in the analysis of the data. The first stage is a systematic description of the data and shows that the dominant pattern in teachers' philosophical and epistemological views . tends to be close to contextualism. It indicates that teachers tend to prefer the introduction of integrated science curricula, and in terms of pedagogy, to stress pupils' ability to think in abstract terms, as well as to emphasise a teacher-centred approach. In the second stage, a classification of responses into distinct categories (i.e. inductivism, relativism, etc.) was made on the basis of each individual following consistently a particular path of the network. The outcome suggests that indeed the Kuhnian system of thought is favoured consistently more than any other system. The third stage is an analysis of the correlations of teachers' views within and across the three components (philosophical, curricular and pedagogical). On the basis of this analysis, a tentative conclusion is that there are two relatively autonomous regions of "educational theory" as held by teachers, namely epistemological and pedagogical views on the one hand and ontological and curricular views on the other.