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Nature of science
Membership categorisation analysis
Issue Date: 
Paper presented at the International Science Education Conference, National Institute of Education, Singapore, Nov 2006
The nature and purposes of science education in Singapore have been, for a long time,
an area of debate and concern. Ask teachers, curriculum developers, policy makers,
science education researchers, scientists or students about the nature and purpose of
science education, you will undoubtedly receive many different answers. The issue of
interest here is the understanding of what nature and purposes of science education are
among some teachers and students in Singapore. In this paper, we problematize the
notion that high school students can think and should be able to think like a scientist.
We hope that the discussion generated in this paper will contribute to an increased
awareness among teachers and researchers about the issues relating to the nature of
school science, learning science and the practices in the science classroom. This study
examines two students from a class of 23 girls and their perception of what science is
together with their biology teacher in a secondary school. In one of the classroom
transcripts, the teacher reminded the students several times to ‘think like a scientist!”.
This prompted us to question if the assumption that everyone knows how a scientist
operate is valid. In this paper, we attempt to use Membership Categorisation Analysis
(Freebody, 2003; McHoul and Watson, 1984) to provide insights into some ideas about
science which the teacher and two students from the same school community have
explicated. Their interview transcripts constitute the main data source in this paper. The
results of this study revealed the complexities of issues relating to the introduction of the
notion of nature of scientific enterprise in the secondary biology classrooms.
Project number: 
CRP 22/05 TAL
Appears in Collections:CRPP - Conference Papers

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