This thesis explores the beliefs of three teachers about effective primary science practice, and the ways these develop in the context of a climate where there are few school resources for primary science training.
The research proposes a new theoretical model combining Lave and Wenger’s communities of practice (1991) with Bourdieu’s science capital social theory (2004) to explore the impact of science knowledge, culture and science social contacts on the development of beliefs about science, science teaching and the teachers’ position and agency in the school to enable learning from others.
A case study methodology was used, with three local primary teachers, employing participative observation and semi-structured interviews to gather data on beliefs on primary science and professional development. The data was evaluated using thematic analysis.
The three teachers identified a range of beliefs about effective teaching strategies in primary science, including enquiry, linking ideas to observables in activities and dialogic learning approaches which appeared to be influenced by each teacher’s type and amount of science capital.
There appeared to be little science expertise or CPD in schools, to support science teaching especially during the first years when teaching strategies are established. Some teachers were not part of any external ‘community of practice’ and found online resources unhelpful for developing pedagogy.
The combined theoretical model was found to be effective in recognising the teachers’ previous experience in science and its impact on their present beliefs.