Research in Science Education

, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 1221–1246 | Cite as

Teaching Explicitly and Reflecting on Elements of Nature of Science: a Discourse-Focused Professional Development Program with Four Fifth-Grade Teachers

  • Panagiotis PiliourasEmail author
  • Katerina Plakitsi
  • Fanny Seroglou
  • Georgia Papantoniou


The nature of science (NOS) has become a central goal of science education in many countries. This study refers to a developmental work research program, in which four fifth-grade elementary in-service teachers participated. It aimed to improve their understandings of NOS and their abilities to teach it effectively to their students. The 1-year-long, 2012–2013, program consisted of a series of activities to support teachers to develop their pedagogical content knowledge of NOS. In order to accomplish our goal, we enabled teacher-researchers to analyze their own discourse practices and to trace evidence of effective NOS teaching. Many studies indicate the importance of examining teachers’ discussions about science in the classroom, since it is teachers’ understanding of NOS reflected in these discussions that will have a vital impact on students’ learning. Our proposal is based on the assumption that reflecting on the ways people form meanings enables us to examine and seek alternative ways to communicate aspects of NOS during science lessons. The analysis of discourse data, which has been carried out with the teacher-researchers’ active participation, indicated that initially only a few aspects of NOS were implicitly incorporated in teacher-researchers’ instruction. As the program evolved, all teacher-researchers presented more informed views on targeted NOS aspects. On the whole, our discourse-focused professional development program with its participatory, explicit, and reflective character indicated the importance of involving teacher-researchers in analyzing their own talk. It is this involvement that results in obtaining a valuable awareness of aspects concerning pedagogical content knowledge of NOS teaching.


NOS teaching Discourse analysis Professional development Teachers as researchers 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Panagiotis Piliouras
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katerina Plakitsi
    • 2
  • Fanny Seroglou
    • 3
  • Georgia Papantoniou
    • 2
  1. 1.PeristeriGreece
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of IoanninaIoanninaGreece
  3. 3.School of Primary Education, Faculty of EducationAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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