Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Faculty of Education and Arts


If the status and quality of science education in schools is to improve, efforts need to be made to better understand the classroom practices of effective science teachers. Teachers are key players in this re-imagining of science education. This thesis explores how two primary science teachers, identified as effective practitioners, approached science teaching and learning over a series of lessons. The relationships between their beliefs, knowledge, teaching contexts, teaching approach and students’ engagement in learning science were explored.

Data was primarily collected through a video ethnographic approach (Pink, 2007) and supplemented with teacher and student interviews, student work samples, field notes and journal entries. Case studies of the science teaching and learning experiences of the teachers and their students were compiled. The case studies were analysed using an ethnographic microanalysis approach (Erickson, 1992) identifying several general assertions about the practices of these effective primary science teachers.

The two teachers adopted different approaches, drawing on their particular beliefs and knowledge, to support student learning in science in ways that were appropriate to their contexts. Both teachers maintained student interest and positive attitudes towards science, which acted to motivate and engage students in learning science. However, they achieved this in different ways, which reflected their different experiences and backgrounds. Concrete experiences of science enabled students to explore science phenomena in ways that were hands-on and accessible, which provided a context and purpose for discussion and representation. The teachers managed classroom discourse in ways that supported their students’ learning needs and created opportunities for students to explore and develop their science understandings. Both teachers also provided opportunities for students to reflect on and represent their understandings in multi-modal forms. This approach enabled the development of students’ science understandings to be monitored and for feedback to be given to scaffold learning over the unit. Finally, through this effective practice, the two teachers were able to support their students in becoming scientifically literate citizens.

While care must be taken in generalising from two cases, these findings lead to several implications for primary science teachers, teacher educators and curriculum developers.

LCSH Subject Headings

Edith Cowan University - Faculty of Education and Arts - Dissertations.

Science - Study and teaching (Primary) - Methodology.

Science - Study and teaching (Primary) - Case studies.

Science teachers - Case studies.

Science teachers - Attitudes.