IOSTE Paper


Opening up Values through History and Philosophy of Science


John Oversby, Institute of Education, Reading University, Reading, RG6 1HY, UK
Email: j.p.oversby@reading.ac.uk

Abstract


The 30 month, 8 country, EU History and Philosophy in Science Teaching (HIPST) project was established in February 2008. the UK part of the project has focused on three themes: a) the role of measuring in characterising the concept of temperature in history; b) induction as a historical method for establishing concepts of acidity; c) the historical use of the paper tools of chemical formulae and chemical equations to promote thinking about chemical processes. The first two themes are suitable, and are being trialled in lower secondary schools, with 5 comprehensive classes of Year 7 (11/12 year old pupils), in the South of England. the third theme is suitable for upper secondary pupils.

The materials produced for the first theme have been trialled and reviewed. The results so far have established the strength of a collaborative two cycle approach, involving a researcher from Higher Education, and practicing teachers in schools, producing relevant and robust resources for subject knowledge and the Nature of Science. Co-teaching has proved to be a successful tool for improving and increasing teacher subject knowledge about science and the history of science. Equally valuable, co-teaching has been a successful method for introducing pedagogical innovation, in comparison with a wiki, which has been less well used.

Pedagogical innovations that have engaged most pupils have included producing play scripts of scientific stories, and newspapers written in simple language. Using pupil work as a source of material for newspapers has also been an important innovation. the pupil newspapers have also served as a source of information for the teachers. Some new activities have been developed: lack of equipment in schools and skills of technicians was a barrier, and has led to specific training for the latter.

Lack of adequate literacy skills (reading, writing and active listening) has been a source of concern for a few pupils but most have been engaged by the project materials. The project has noted that underlying understanding of basic concepts, such as particle ideas, needs to be secure for the full potential to be achieved.

Many pupils have produced extra work, and focused on working with the new pedagogy. This is an indication that these pupils have adapted to the curriculum innovation

Introduction


The science education community's values are embedded, often implicitly, in its intended curricula. For example, the Science National Curriculum in England for 11 – 14 year olds (QCDA, 2009) states that: 'Pupils learn how knowledge and understanding in science are rooted in evidence. They discover how scientific ideas contribute to technological change – affecting industry, business and medicine and improving quality of life. They trace the development of science worldwide and recognise its cultural significance.'
Under Cultural Understanding, the same National Curriculum requires pupils to ‘recognise that modern science has its roots in many different societies and cultures, and draws on a variety of valid approaches to scientific practice’.
In recent Australian proposals, science is simply described as a ‘human endeavour’ with little reference to any historical outworking of this process.
The American Association for Advancement of Science (Project 2061) (AAAS, 1993, 2009) has ‘The images that many people have of science and how it works are often distorted. The myths and stereotypes that young people have about science are not dispelled when science teaching focuses narrowly on the laws, concepts, and theories of science. Hence, the study of science as a way of knowing needs to be made explicit in the curriculum,’ with development of some of the history to exemplify what should be done. Urevbu and Omoi (2005) describe in detail one approach to using the history of science in Nigeria in their paper delivered to the IHPST 2005 Leeds conference but do not provide evidence of success.Within the domain of History of Science, we seem to have variable and often rather weak guidance on its inclusion in Science Curricula.
Williams (2002) surveyed the history of science in textbooks in England in 1999, following the integration of science into the mainstream school science curriculum. He notes that, in the related history curriculum, pupils have to have: chronological understanding; knowledge and understanding of events, people and changes in the past; historical interpretation; historical enquiry; and organization and communication. He used this framework to assess the place of history of science in readily available textbooks. He concluded that (page 90):
  • 14 – 16 physics has a larger volume of unexplained names in the history of science than biology and chemistry;
  • the history of science is often included as a non-essential ‘add-on’ and serves little purpose in developing ides and/or concepts;
  • the figures mentioned and elaborated upon are mostly those that have been traditionally used, e.g. Newton, Einstein, Darwin, Mendeleef;
  • there is little or no attention paid to the context within which the science was developed;
  • few accounts of the lives of scientists are given or how they worked;
  • some information is factually incorrect.
Höttecke (2009) in his ESERA paper acknowledged the importance of History and Philosophy of Science towards school teaching, and the dearth of research about and curriculum resources for HPS teaching in schools. Höttecke gave the following research analysis of the impact of teaching HPS in Physics.

Comparisons of cultures of teaching physics and teaching
HPS successfully as indicated by research.


History and philosophy in physics teaching
The current culture of teaching science
Physics is demonstrated as a process dependent on a wider cultural context, content counts as developed historically.
Physics is taught as truth and a collection of facts.
Students reflect on the nature of science explicitly.
Students do not reflect on the nature of science, teachers convey messages about NOS implicitly.
Science is demonstrated as tentative, a matter of negotiation and discourse among scientists.
Scientific content is not a matter of negotiation and discourse among students.
Students’ conceptual change is supported.
Teachers provide scientific content. Spaces are designed for enabling teacher talk.
HPS encourages students to express their own ideas.
Students associate physics with heteronomy.
Female role models are demonstrated.
Physics is constructed as male.
Teachers have to focus on NOS as an explicit objective of their teaching.
Teachers do not focus on NOS as an explicit objective of their teaching.
Physics teachers’ beliefs about classroom organization are progressive. They dispose of pedagogical content knowledge for moderating discussions and negotiations among students about a variety of concepts. They support students’ meaning making, and transform reflected views of NOS during their teaching.
Physics teachers’ beliefs about classroom organization, epistemological beliefs and beliefs about teaching objectives are likely to be traditional.
Teachers know how to use HPS to transform NOS into teaching practice.
Teachers do not transform NOS knowledge into a reflective teaching practice.
Teachers appreciate learning content, context and process of science with HPS.
If physics teachers appreciate history of science, they focus mainly on learning about context of science while feeling unsafe about teaching science as a process.

Research questions


1. What are the purposes of including History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) in school curricula? What HPS is embedded in curricula?
2. What is presently known about the effect of HPS teaching in schools?
3. How do teachers respond to an explicit HPS teaching programme?
4. How do young learners respond to an explicit HPS teaching programme?

Methodology


1. The author undertook a desk study of National Curricula for Science, and of textbook resources. This was supplemented by a national meeting of researchers. teacher trainers, a philosopher of science, textbook writers, members of learned scientific societies, and a museum presenter.
2. The author undertook a desk study of literature relating to the effect of HPS teaching in schools
3. Three teachers undertook to teach a module on temperature to explore the effect of measuring on validating, and eveloping the reliability and accuracy of scientific equipment. The teachers took part in discussions by email, face to face conversations that were recorded by hand, and one by constructing a reflection log
4. Teachers in two schools volunteered to trial materials with a total of 150 pupils aged 11-12 years old. Data collection included open-ended written questions, recording of learning in notebooks, field observations by the author, debriefing discussions by the author that include reports agreed with the teachers, pupil play scripts about a historical event, and a pre- and post-test about pupil views on HPS.

Details of the programme


The project that includes this work is part of the EU funded (FP7) History and Philosophy in Science Teaching (HIPST) project (HIPST, 2008-2010). The project is led from Germany and has activities in 8 European countries devoted to producing trialled resources for teaching HPS in schools, museums and universities. The project also aims to develop teachers' personal subject matter knowledge, pedagogical skills, especially in using innovative methods, and to introduce explicit historical and philosophical thinking into science teaching. In the case of philosophical considerations, this is directly linked to the Nature of Science, and in particular in the UK to the How Science Works part of the prescribed curriculum.

The UK part of the programme has three active themes:
a) historical characterisation of concepts through measuring, in the context of temperature;
b) historical conceptual identification and change, in the context of acidity;
c) historical development and use of paper tools, in the context of chemical formulae and chemical equations.
Themes a and b are being conducted with pupils in lower secondary schools, Theme c will be conducted in both lower and upper secondary schools. This paper focuses mainly on theme a, and is partly work in progress.

The topic of measuring is part of basic scientific training in UK lower secondary schools. Pupils have studied particle ideas as concepts, and it is important that the curriculum topic meshes with the stated curriculum.

Philosophical issues
a) What are the purposes of measuring in the scientific community?
b) What is meant by validity, reliability and accuracy in scientific measurement?
c)

Historical issues
a) Is the human body a valid, reliable and accurate thermometer?
b) What is meant by standardisation, and how was it carried out for liquid-in-glass thermometers?
c) How was the constant-volume gas thermometer developed and used?

Teacher materials
A web site (www.ukhipstinstruments, wikispaces.com) has been constructed for teachers engaged in the project. The web site has these major components:
a) a teachers' subject knowledge section incorporating scholarly material on subject matter knowledge about temperature, research on typical misconceptions, pedagogical content knowledge, and philosophical information,
b) a context section incorporating historical chronological information about scientific discoveries, significant cultural events and significant political events,
c) a scheme of work to show lesson progression with conceptual, misconceptions, historical elaboration, and philosophical elaboration,
d) a teachers' section that elaborates each lesson in turn.
In addition, the project has produced simple newspapers. There are staff newspapers to share nes about the project as it progresses in schools. There are pupil newspapers, with relevant historical information about how temperature was measured in history, puzzles for pupils, reports of pupil surveys with friends and parents about what temperature is and how scientists measure, and a selection of play scripts about Gmelin's expedition across Siberia at the behest of Catherine the Great. The play plots Gmelin's report of the lowest temperature of -84.4C and the subsequent comment 50 years later by Thomson that the mercury would have frozen before then. The play scripts are used as a measure of pupil understanding of a problem in measuring temperature.

Evidence


This report is based on the work of three teachers in two UK comprehensive schools, working with a total of five classes of 11-12 year old pupils, grade 7. Approximately 140 pupils have been involved so far. The study is still in progress. Up to date data and interpretation will be available for the conference.
1.
The Science National Curriculum in England for 11 – 14 year olds (QCDA, 2009) states that:
'Pupils learn how knowledge and understanding in science are rooted in evidence. They discover how scientific ideas contribute to technological change – affecting industry, business and medicine and improving quality of life. They trace the development of science worldwide and recognise its cultural significance.' It also states that pupils should be ‘using scientific ideas and models to explain phenomena and developing them creatively to generate and test , and be critically analysing and evaluating evidence from observations and experiments’.
Under Cultural Understanding, the same National Curriculum in England requires pupils to ‘recognise that modern science has its roots in many different societies and cultures, and draws on a variety of valid approaches to scientific practice’.
Internationally, there are variations in the emphasis paid to these issues. In recent Australian proposals, science is simply described as a ‘human endeavour’ with little reference to any historical outworking of this process. The New Jersey elaboration of the US Framework for Science states one aim of science is ‘to show students that scientific ideas and theories have a history of their own by tracing the evolution of our most important present-day paradigms’ (New Jersey, no date) The American Association for Advancement of Science (Project 2061) (AAAS, 1993, 2009) has ‘The images that many people have of science and how it works are often distorted. The myths and stereotypes that young people have about science are not dispelled when science teaching focuses narrowly on the laws, concepts, and theories of science. Hence, the study of science as a way of knowing needs to be made explicit in the curriculum,’ with development of some of the history to exemplify what should be done. Urevbu and Omoi (2005) describe in detail one approach to using the history of science in Nigeria in their paper delivered to the IHPST 2005 Leeds conference but do not provide evidence of success.
Williams (2002) examined UK science textbooks for history of science content. The minimal content was an add-on, with little of the context in which the scientists worked, or about them as human beings. The history content is hardly used to develop conceptual understanding. Regrettably, there also significant numbers of errors in many textbooks.

2. Relatively little research is known about the effect of teaching HPS in schools and that which has been so far explored has mainly been in the physics domain (e.g. Höttecke, 2009 and Galili, 2009). Many researchers assert potential benefits, such as exploring difficult concepts through historical data, but there is only very modest evidence of success in this area in the literature (but see Wandersee, 1986, for one such example).

3. The teachers taking part in the trials programme are volunteers, so generalisation to other cases can not easily be made. However, these are the most positive conditions, so lack of success in these cases would be a serious setback. The main teacher in one school is a senior science teacher, and in the second school the main teacher is strongly supported by the leader of the science department. The teachers readily accept their initial lack of knowledge about the history of science, hence the production of pupil newspapers for the teachers' knowledge as much as for the pupils. They also accept their initial lack of knowledge about the philosophy of measuring, which has been developed through discussion with the author. A paper on measurement has been incorporated into the temperature wiki. The teachers claim, with strong justification, that lack of time in the face of persistent and demanding requirements for bureaucratic reporting make it difficult for them to devote significant time to studying for the project. Co-teaching, by the researcher and the teacher of each class, has been the major input source for their learning of historical and philosophical knowledge and of innovative pedagogical methods. Other sources of information, such as the web site, have played a very minor role so far, from debriefing interviews with the teachers.

4. There has been a wide variation in the way that pupils have engaged with the course. The increased emphasis on an adequate literacy base for pupils involved in the project has meant some difficulties, especially for some boys who seem to be the ones with the most serious problems in this regard. This has led, in some classes, to distracting behaviour by these pupils. The project has adopted a pragmatic approach to partially addressing the literacy issue by simplifying the language used, for example in the project pupil newspapers. However, the project participants have agreed that there is a limit to the extent that this can be done without compromising the accuracy of the ideas involved. This has meant that a small proportion (perhaps three or four in each class) have been somewhat disenfranchised from accessing some resources, such as the newspapers. Nevertheless, the great majority of the pupils show a positive attitude, in asking questions, in engaging with the practical work, in carrying out extra work at home, and in putting in extra personal time to completing play scripts. That these are often girls is only to be expected from the results of the ROSE survey (ROSE, nd), that indicates girls dominating interest in humanistic science, and in more creative methods of recording their findings. Pupil recording of their findings in the form of annotated drawings suggest that the majority are understanding the science, the history and the philosophy in the lessons. The issue of literacy is a factor with a few pupils in the project recording their data, so that this evidence can not be collected from all.

Conclusions


The project has been successful in these respects:

1. Appropriate resources have been produced for teachers and pupils.
2. A rich dedicated web site has been provided, providing suitable guidance for both teachers and pupils.
3. The project is rather unusual (Innovative) in that the teachers are highly influential in the progress of the trials and resource production. This collaborative action between a colleague in Higher Education and teachers in schools is rather unusual.
4. The resources provided are innovative in a number of ways:
a) the use of web sites with optional information and opportunity for blogs, discussion and teachers to create their own pages and upload their own files is innovative;
b) the use of newspapers for revealing history of science, in pupil-level language, is unusual;
c) the use of newspapers in which teachers and pupils can make their own contributions, is innovative;
d) recreating historical experiments is unusual
e) the use of play scripts for recording and assessing learning is unusual
f) the use of newspapers for dissemination of progress to project members, including teachers, is unusual.

Implications for teaching


The project represents work in progress. Nevertheless, there are some clear implication from the project to date:
1. More resources for teaching HPS are needed and have been provided by the project.
2. Co-teaching is a powerful method for developing teachers' subject matter knowledge and innovative pedagogical skills.
3. Curriculum materials that mesh with the curriculum are more likely to be readily accepted.
4. Teachers need more time if curriculum change is to be securely embedded.
5. Individual pupil difficulties with literacy is a major barrier to engagement with science.
6. Some innovative pedagogies such as producing play scripts, and newspapers, can support increased engagement by pupils.
7. The project has unearthed some insecure learning in particle ideas that limit application e.g. use of the gas thermometer. The project has demonstrated a requirement for some changes to teaching the existing curriculum.

References


AAAS (1993, 2009) Project 2061, American Association for the Advancement of Science at http://www.project2061.org/publications/bsl/online/index.php?chapter=1
Galili I (2009) Discipline-culture framework of implementing the history and philosophy of science into science teaching The paper presented at the 7th Biennial Conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA), Istanbul, Turkey.

HIPST (2008-2010) – History and Philosophy of Science in Science Teaching, international project of developing and dissemination of teaching materials based on the HPS: http://hipst.eled.auth.gr/index.htm
Höttecke, D. (2009). An analysis of status and obstacles of implementation of history and philosophy of science in science education. The paper presented at the 7th Biennial Conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA), Istanbul, Turkey.

QCDA, 2009 England KS3 National Curriculum at www.curriculum.qcda.gov.uk/key-stages-3-and-4/subjects/science/keystage3/index.aspx
ROSE web site at http://www.ils.uio.no/english/rose/
Urevbu AO & Omoi CN (2005) Depictions of Philosophy and History of Science in Curriculum and Texts in Secondary Schools in Nigeria http://www.ihpst2005.leeds.ac.uk/papers/Urevbu_Omoifo.pdf
Wandersee, J.H. (1986). Can The History of Science help Science Educators Anticipate Students’ Misconceptions? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 23 (7), 581-597
Williams JD, 2002, Ideas and evidence in science: the portrayal of scientists in GCSE textbooks School Science Review December 2002, 84 (307)