Relating Research to Practice has identified a limited set of Hot Topics representing pressing issues facing the ISE field. Download synthesis papers or browse research briefs related to these topics.





All research briefs tagged to Teaching Strategies and Teacher PD
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Santau, A.O., Secada, W., Maerten-Rivera, J., Cone, N. & Lee, O. (2010). US Urban elementary teachers’ knowledge and practices in teaching science to English language learners: Results from the first year of a professional development intervention. International Journal of Science Education, 32(15), 2007–2032.

Teachers of English language learners face the dual challenge of helping students to learn the academic content of science and to acquire English language proficiency. Elementary teachers, meanwhile, face the additional challenge of responding to new teaching requirements outlined within reform initiatives with an often limited understanding of science and its practices. The study reported in this paper sought to examine these issues (and also a comparison of teacher’s knowledge and practice between grade levels) as part of the analysis of a long-term professional development initiative for urban elementary schools. The professional development (PD) sought to enhance teacher knowledge of science content, teaching practices, inquiry processes, and teaching practices in science to support English language development.


Kind, V. (2009). Pedagogical content knowledge in science education: Perspectives and potential for progress. Studies in Science Education, 45(2), 169–204.

Debate surrounding the definition of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) has limited its use in guiding teacher practice and teacher education. To help trainees acquire the unique skills of expert teachers in translating content for learners, this paper argues that an explicit focus on PCK (rather than an emphasis on subject matter knowledge) is needed.


Oliver, M. (2011). Towards an understanding of neuroscience for science educators. Studies in Science Education, 47(2), 211–235.

In this review, Oliver calls for greater cross-pollination between neuroscience research and educational practice. She argues that a richer understanding of the brain can dispel educational myths—and indeed uses research data in this paper to do so. She explores ways in which brain science can not only inform emerging theories of learning and teaching but also inspire effective educational interventions.


Gutwill, J. P., & Allen, S. (2012). Deepening students’ scientific inquiry skills during a science museum field trip. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 21(1), 130–181. doi:10.1080/10508406.2011.555938

This article describes how two inquiry games promoted student science skills in a museum setting while minimizing demands on teachers, fostering collaboration, and incorporating chaperones. Students who played these games engaged in more scientific inquiry behaviors than did students in control groups.


Atwood, S., Turnbull, W., & Carpendale, J.I.M. (2010). The construction of knowledge in classroom talk. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19(3), 358–402.

In this study, researchers investigated the nature of three different modes of classroom talk—cumulative, exploratory, and disputational—to determine how these modes supported engagement and participation of college-aged students in psychology courses. The article is relevant to ISE educators in that conversation and verbal meaning-making often characterize programs such as science summer camps, afterschool programs, etc. The paper points out how such talk can be made more productive by making it more exploratory in nature.


Howes, E. V., Lim, M., & Campos, J. (2009). Journeys into inquiry-based elementary science: Literacy practices, questioning, and empirical study. Science Education, 93(2), 189–217.

Combining science and literacy is becoming a common teaching strategy, which builds on the importance of professional scientists’ use of reading, writing, and speaking in their work. This paper consists of descriptions of efforts of three elementary teachers to teach literacy through science. The authors’ purpose was to theorize how and why to integrate literacy practices with scientific inquiry, to provide examples for educators, and to provide considerations for implementation, all of which may also be useful for informal educators.


Tatalovic, M. (2009). Science comics as tools for science education and communication: A brief, exploratory study. Journal of Science Communication, 8(4), 1-17.

This paper argues that comic books, comic strips, and other sequential art covering scientific concepts and stories about scientists can be used to good effect for science learning, especially for grounding scientific fact in social contexts. The paper includes a rich list of existing comics that practitioners can use in classes and programs for ISE audiences.


Yasri, P., & Mancy, R. (2014). Understanding student approaches to learning evolution in the context of their perceptions of the relationship between science and religion. International Journal of Science Education, 36(1), 24–45. doi:10.1080/09500693.2012.715315

Students with strong religious views may adopt a variety of positions on the scientific concept of evolution. The attempts students make to address potential mismatches between their religious and scientific viewpoints influence their learning approaches. This Yasri and Mancy paper presents five ways in which young people reconcile evolution and religion,and discusses the implications for educators.


Maulucci, M. (2010). Resisting the marginalization of science in an urban school: Coactivating social, cultural, material and strategic resources. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(7), 840–860.

Education reform efforts often focus on material supplies and teacher knowledge of science, but this article points out additional constraints that teachers face within their schools and how the teachers from one middle school overcame them. These constraints have implications for what the researcher calls “inertial forces” that may derail social justice efforts. An awareness of these issues can help ISE educators in their efforts to design and lead professional development programs that support teachers.


van Driel, J. H., Meirink, J. A., van Veen, K., & Zwart, R. C. (2012). Current trends and missing links in studies on teacher professional development in science education: A review of design features and quality of research. Studies in Science Education, 48(2), 129–160. doi:10.1080/03057267.2012.738020

This review paper summarises the current state of research on professional development in science education. It offers a number of insights and recommendations for the many informal science institutions that offer teacher professional development courses.




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