Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Professor Denis Goodrum

Second Supervisor

Professor Mark Hackling


This study investigated Nigerian junior secondary science teachers' beliefs about effective science teaching, their pedagogical content knowledge and how these influence their classroom teaching behaviour. The research is underpinned by a conceptual framework, which establishes a strong relationship between teachers' beliefs about teaching, teachers' pedagogical content knowledge and classroom teaching practices. The study was carried out in two phases. The first phase involved a survey of all junior secondary science teachers (N=70) from the 30 secondary schools in two Local Education Districts of Lagos State, Nigeria. The second phase involved in-depth case studies of three science teachers who were purposively selected. The case study data were collected through interviews, classroom observation sessions and document analysis. Findings from the study revealed that the teachers hold narrow, objectivist or realist views of the nature of science, and narrow and elitist views of the purpose of science teaching in schools. They also espoused beliefs consistent with knowledge transmission, teacher-centred, teacher-dominated classrooms in which students should play mainly passive roles of listening, observing the teacher and copying notes whilst under strict supervision of the teacher so as to maintain a quiet classroom for science teaching. Assessment practices are based on short paper and pencil periodic tests and terminal examinations, which are mainly for summative purposes. The teachers' classroom behaviour reflected accurate knowledge of science content and an understanding of the social and physical environment in which their students are learning. However, their teaching practices reflected pedagogical knowledge and skills, and knowledge of student learning derived from the traditional knowledge transmission pedagogy, which is not consistent with current understanding, and best practices in science teaching and learning. Their teacher-centred practices are consistent with their knowledge transmission beliefs and their pedagogical content knowledge in relation to pedagogical strategies and how students learn in science. The study revealed that shortages of science textbooks, insufficient teaching facilities and large classes, limit teachers’ effectiveness in science teaching. More contemporary approaches that actively engage students in learning and develop scientific literacy in the Nigerian context have been recommended. The implications of these findings for initial teacher education, professional development, science curriculum and science teaching have been outlined.

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