Understanding science teachers' praxis: An ethnographical study of science teaching in four Bangalore schools

Jayaram, Indira (2010) Understanding science teachers' praxis: An ethnographical study of science teaching in four Bangalore schools. Doctoral thesis, National Institute of Advanced Studies.

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Thesis advisorSarangapani, PadmaUNSPECIFIED
Abstract: The curriculum that is transacted is shaped by factors associated with the cultural and social location of the teacher and the taught. The present research was undertaken to understand science teacher praxis in schools catering to different groups of students to understand equity issues associated with science learning and achievement. Ethnography was conducted in four schools in Bangalore city: two government schools, one private unaided school, all affiliated to the Karnataka state board and one private unaided international school affiliated to an international board. 24 teachers participated in the study, and two groups of student-teachers were also observed and interviewed during their practice teaching over thirteen months of observation. Basil Bernstein‘s concept of the pedagogic device that mediates the social order through its distributive, regulative rules and evaluative rules, and the notion of education as a field, in which knowledge is recontextualised, provided the theoretical framework for analysis. Government schools lacked adequate classroom space and laboratories, unlike private schools. The pedagogic processes followed in the three schools within the official recontexutalisation field (ORF) of Karnataka state were similar, but the students in government schools received less classroom instruction. Teachers used the teachering device to draw students‘ attention to information from the textbook that was to be remembered and reproduced. The ORF in which the international school functioned differed from the other schools. Although the teachers in this school also used textbooks for teaching (discussed in Chapter 5), they did not give notes and did not drill students in recalling answers to questions. Teachers in this school did not read and paraphrase information from the textbooks as teachers in the government schools did. Thus the ORF lead to different classroom processes in PI as its evaluative rules did not emphasize students‘ ability to recall knowledge. The ORFs in all the schools legitimated knowledge that had been formally validated and consequentially the knowledge available with the working class communities to which students in the government schools belonged, did not find a place in the pedagogic discourse within their classrooms. The pedagogic discourse in the classroom is not solely determined by the ORF but is also a result of the pedagogic recontextualization field, the PRF, whose agents are teachers. The observations of teacher preparation programmes in the course of this study have shown that these are insulated and discordant with the ORF as articulated in the National Curriculum Framework. In the PRF, the regulative discourse of the classroom supports teacher lead didactic praxis that is focused on delivery of textbook content and transmits evaluative criteria that encourage students to reproduce this content without requiring them to display a deeper understanding of scientific concepts and their application to the everyday world. There is a pedagogical culture that supports intersubjectively the notion of the teacher as a transmitter of knowledge. Bernstein has argued that successful learning depends to a great extent on the weak framing of pacing-that is, on conditions where children have some control over the time of their acquisition. For that reason, only those children who have access to a second site of acquisition (the family) have been likely to succeed. The tight framing of pacing across the schools meant that the availability of family support played a decisive role in student success. This was reiterated by the science teachers. The interaction of different ORF with teachers‘ personal biographies seems to engender the dispositions or habitus of teachers, who are agents within the PRF. The primary teaching habitus of pre-service teachers has been shaped by the twelve or more years of schooling where they have been enculturated into what constitutes appropriate ways of being within that context. Teachers‘ habitus lead them to work within ORF that more or less matched the ORF in which they had studied and thus government school teachers had invariably studied in government schools and private school teachers had studied in private schools. The pre-service colleges of education supported the tendency of teachers‘ to maintain their habitus by sending student-teachers to do their practicum in schools that functioned in the ORF similar to the ones in which they had studied in. Student teachers‘ notions of what constitutes effective teaching and their notions about the relationship between children‘s socio-economic backgrounds and school achievement were not called to question during their practice teaching allowing the perpetuation of popular stereo-types about individual student‘s ability being the main determinant to his or her success in school. As a result of this, the PRF of the teacher education colleges and that of schools under the state board supported a reproductive habitus, where the teachers felt constrained by their circumstances, took their social world for granted and confined possibilities to those they saw as suitable for the social group they belonged.
Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted to Manipal University, Manipal, India. [Year of Award 2011] [Thesis No. TH20]
Keywords: Science Teachers, Basil Bernstein, pedagogy, official recontexutalisation field, ORF, Karnataka,
Subjects: School of Social Sciences > Education
Doctoral Programme > Theses
Divisions: Schools > Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2014 06:48
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2023 06:19
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    Funders: UNSPECIFIED
    Projects: UNSPECIFIED
    URI: http://eprints.nias.res.in/id/eprint/613

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