A framework for professional learning and development in science for New Zealand upper primary teachers
This doctoral thesis describes the development of a framework to guide the creation and delivery of bespoke professional learning and development programmes (PLD) in physical science for groups of Year 7 and 8 teachers. It identifies key principles and provides practical advice needed to produce PLD programmes specifically focused on the topics selected, in consultation with the teachers involved, that are tailored to the school environment and adhere to design principles informed by research, and tested in the New Zealand context. The framework was developed using a design-based research approach involving three iterations of use, analysis, and improvement. Audio recordings, structured interviews, classroom observations, concept maps, and field notes provided data for a qualitative analysis paradigm. The research employed a social-constructivist lens, with an emphasis on learner-centred science investigations, leading to the development of a new framework for physical science PLD design and delivery consisting of five major focus areas: Subject selection / curriculum, Subject matter understanding, Teaching practice, Support, and Logistical considerations. This research highlighted the challenges faced by generalist teachers with limited science backgrounds in working with New Zealand's non-prescriptive national curriculum, to develop specific physical science units that are relevant to their local school environment. Specifically, teachers with limited subject matter knowledge face challenges selecting topics from the New Zealand Curriculum, balancing breadth and depth of topic coverage, and selecting curriculum support materials. After participating in the PLD teachers were able to use their subject matter knowledge and teaching experience to select materials and confidently teach the physical science topics covered in the PLD.