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Abstract

This investigation was based on the assumption that a study of prevailing explanatory styles in science classrooms is a necessary, and hitherto much neglected, starting point in any attempt to improve teacher education programs in science.

Fourteen high school physics teachers were requested to handle the explanation of some physics problems to their students in microteaching situations. A study of 70 such explanations revealed that universal laws, constructs, analogies, and historical accounts were frequently used as explanatory criteria. By far the most prevalent criterion was the use of constructs.

A verbal explanation analysis instrument was developed to study the transcripts in terms of verbal styles and interpretation of physics as enquiry. Frequency counts of verbal communication units revealed a high predominance of teachers' lecturing behavior. Chi-square tests also revealed interactions among some explanatory approaches and physics content, while intercorrelation coefficients showed associations among various verbal factors.

It was recommended that specific training in a number of technical skills should form part of physics teachers' education programs.