Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum Studies (PhD)
Supporting socially responsible science education in K-12 classrooms
For always supporting, encouraging, stretching, and inspiring!
The world’s oceans face an uncertain future through human actions leading to environmental crises such as warming waters, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, mass extinction, and ecosystem collapse. Ocean education through ocean literacy is one approach to mitigate the consequences of our industrialized society by promoting awareness, connection, and caring for the ocean. This study sought to understand the perspectives of five teachers who experienced a module on ocean literacy through an ethic of care during an environmental education course. Nel Noddings’s ethics of care along with Peter Martin’s interpretations of her work within the context of environmental education provided a theoretical framework to guide the study. Qualitative research methods including structured interviews (surveys), semi-structured interviews, participant reflections, and research fieldnotes were used as data sources. By employing Miles and Huberman’s approach to thematic analysis, the findings were organized into three key themes which denoted how the teachers: (1) expanded their awareness of their relationship with the ocean; (2) increased their Ocean Literacy; and (3) increased their understanding of Ocean Literacy and the role of place in ocean education. Study findings indicated the teachers incorporated a growing awareness of their relationship with the ocean through reflection of past experiences. Recognizing the important role of companions and place was also an important contributor to their perspectives. This study’s findings have implications on how ocean education through ocean literacy, with an emphasis on an ethic of care can be framed in educational settings.
In an attempt to bridge the theory and practice gap in teacher education, this study employed a learning study approach as a platform for teacher candidates to learn about variation theory. This study investigated teacher candidates’ experiences in applying variation theory in lesson planning and explored how teacher candidates identify the object of learning and the critical aspects. In groups of four to five, 27 teacher candidates participated in a learning study and worked collaboratively to plan science lessons either on the topic of genetics and cell division (biology) or rate of reaction (chemistry). The lesson planning was framed using variation theory. Guided by a descriptive case study approach, variation theory was employed as the theoretical framework and phenomenography was the methodological approach. Data sources included the teacher candidates’ lesson plans, the researcher’s field notes, and participant interviews. Data analysis included the construction of individual profiles of the teacher candidates, followed by a construction of three categories of description that build on each other. Arranged in increasing complexity, the categories included: (1) Analysing content knowledge in order to develop a coherent learning plan; (2) Reflecting on personal experiences and beliefs about teaching and learning; and (3) Developing knowledge about students and their prior knowledge as informed by external resources. These categories captured the different ways the teacher candidates identified the object of learning and the critical aspects during their lesson planning. The findings revealed the complex nature of this critical stage of planning a lesson based on variation theory.