How did Elementary Teachers Handle Critical Experiments in Science Classrooms?

  • Published : 2009.05.31


Critical Experiments (CE) in science classrooms mean, tentatively, critical situations as comparable to anomalous cases in scientific revolutions where the results of science experiments in schools are unclear, differ from the theory, or students misunderstand the purpose of the experiments. The purpose of this research is to identify what CE occurred during science classes and to investigate how elementary teachers handled them. To analyze how teachers recognized and handled CE, we selected nine typical CE from the $7^{th}$ Korean science curriculum. 125 teachers were selected from 8 districts' elementary schools in a local city. A questionnaire with photos of the nine CE above-mentioned was distributed to these teachers. The focus in this research was the way that each teacher handled the CE. We discovered that there were three basic ways in which teachers handled CE. When CE occurred, 51% of elementary teachers explained the correct result of the experiment (what should have happened) to the students while 40.7% of the teachers repeated to get the correct results. The focuses of handling CE varied. 57 % of the teachers focused on the 'materials' while 30% of the teachers focused on the 'theory'. The other focus was 'thinking'. Only 7.6% of the teachers answered that they gave students a chance to think about the reasons why the CE happened. By analyzing our survey results, we could determine what each teacher did as a follow up to the CE and their focus and reasoning for handling the CE this way. When the CE happened in the science class, few handled the CE with the point of view about purpose of doing experiment. As a result, students could not gain educational experience from the CE. If we use CE as a new method to teach science, it will be a good subject incorporating the nature of science in science education.