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Taking a closer look at science teaching orientations


  • Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


In this position paper, we examine the science teaching orientation component of the S. Magnusson, J. Krajcik, and H. Borko (1999) pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) model for science teaching. We trace the origin of the construct in the literature, identifying multiple definitions that have lead to ambiguity. After examining published studies using the PCK model, we identified the following methodological issues: (a) using orientations in different or unclear ways, (b) unclear or absent relationship between orientations and the other model components, (c) simply assigning teachers to one of nine categories of orientations, and (d) ignoring the overarching orientation component. To bring clarity to the literature, we propose defining science teaching orientations as a set of beliefs with the following dimensions: goals and purposes of science teaching, views of science, and beliefs about science teaching and learning. Consequently, there is a need for new instruments to elicit these dimensions. We conclude by making recommendations to address the four issues identified in the literature. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed95:358–376, 2011