Teachers' conceptions of the contemporary goals of science education



This study was initiated to examine what middle and high school science teachers believe should be the goals of science education for the remainder of the 1980s. Participants were given a questionnaire that had at one extreme statements reflecting 1960s goals, and at the other extreme statements corresponding to modern science education goals. Additional information such as year of degree, grade level taught, and attendance at workshops was compiled. The results of this survey indicated a lack of commitment to modern goals from the majority of respondents. However, when only those responses indicating a preferred goals orientation were considered, teachers expressed predilection towards 1980s goals. Furthermore, those teachers who favor 1980s goals felt stronger in their conviction than teachers expressing a 1960s goals preference. A discriminant analysis was employed to study whether or not differences in definitive 1960s or 1980s views were associated with one or more items on the personal data questionnaire. It was found that a combination of teaching middle school grades (6–8) and attending more in-service workshops is moderately associated with an 80s orientation to the goals of science education. The results of the study lead the authors to recommend that a concerted effort be made by professional organizations to convey the importance of contemporary goals to teachers at the high school level. Additionally, an effort should be made to disseminate these goals through local seminars and workshops.