Developing science concepts in secondary classrooms : an analysis of pedagogical interactions from a Vygotskian perspective
This study is concerned with how teachers use and guide classroom talk to support students in developing an understanding of scientific conceptual knowledge. The focus is on teachers and teaching. The study involves developing theoretical tools for describing the ways in which teachers make scientific ways of talking and knowing available to their students in classroom settings. The study has both theoretical and empirical components. The theoretical component involves drawing on aspects of Vygotslcy's socio-cultural theory of learning and development and the work of other neo-Vygotskian scholars to develop theoretical tools, based on the concept of the teaching narrative, for analysing the teaching interactions of the classroom. The empirical part involves taking those theoretical tools and applying them to real classroom situations. It is anticipated that the process of applying the theoretical tools to particular classroom situations will enable elaboration and further development of those tools; in this respect there is close interlinking between theoretical and empirical components of the study. The empirical component is based on two case studies. These case studies detail short teaching sequences in which two teachers introduce their classes to particular scientific concepts. The first case involves teaching and learning about chemical change (focussing on the process of rusting) and the second about air pressure. In summary, the main aim of this thesis is to draw upon Vygotskian theory to develop ways of talking and thinking about language-based pedagogical strategies of science teaching. The intention is that such ways of talking and thinking, framed in terms of the teaching narrative, should contribute to the professional language of science teaching providing tools for reflecting on and developing teaching practice.