The: impact of the social norms of education on beginning science teachers' understanding of NOS during their first three years in the classroom
An understanding of the Nature of Science (NOS) remains a fundamental goal of science education in the Unites States. A developed understanding of NOS provides a framework in which to situate science knowledge. Secondary science teachers play a critical role in providing students with an introduction to understanding NOS. Unfortunately, due to the high turnover rates of secondary science teachers in the United States, this critical role is often filled by relatively novice teachers. These beginning secondary science teachers make instructional decisions regarding science that are drawn from their emerging knowledge base, including a tentative understanding of NOS. This tentative knowledge can be affected by environment and culture of the classroom, school, and district in which beginning teachers find themselves. When examining NOS among preservice and beginning teachers the background and demographics of the teachers are often ignored. These teachers are treated as a homogenous block in terms of their initial understanding of NOS. This oversight potentially ignores interactions that may happen over time as teachers cross the border from college students, preservice teachers, and scientists into the classroom environment. Through Symbolic Interactionism we can explain how teachers change in order to adapt to their new surroundings and how this adaptation may be detrimental to their understanding of NOS and ultimately to their practice. 63 teachers drawn from a larger National Science Foundation (NSF) funded study were interviewed about their understanding of NOS over three years. Several demographic factors including college major, preservice program, number of History and Philosophy of Science classes, and highest academic degree achieve were shown to have an affect on the understanding of NOS over time. In addition, over time, the teachers tended to 'converge' in their understanding of NOS regardless of preservice experiences or induction support. Both the affect of different demographics amongst teachers and the 'converging' aspect of their understanding of NOS provide much needed insight for teacher trainers, mentors, and researchers.