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Unit information: Professional Development in Science Education in 2015/16

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Unit name Professional Development in Science Education
Unit code EDUCM0052
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Justin Dillon
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

The core aim of this unit is to enable science education professionals to critically evaluate aspects of pedagogy and implement research-informed improvements through professional development; their own and when designing training for others. Course participants will learn how to describe and analyse innovations in their and/or others’ work in science education with a focus on impacts on student (schools) and visitor (museums, etc.) learning. This will be an iterative process allowing participants to develop their pedagogical content knowledge.

The unit aims:

  • To provide opportunities to study specific innovations in professional development aimed at raising student/visitor attainment and engagement in science;
  • To introduce issues involved in the implementation and evaluation of innovations in teaching and learning in science;
  • To enable participants to explore curriculum developments that accommodate such innovations and novel scientific research;
  • To review frameworks for mentoring and coaching as a means of improving practice;
  • To systematically reflect on effective practice in leadership and management in science education;
  • To consider issues of managing change in science departments;
  • To enable participants to explore the benefits of and challenges to professional development in science education through techniques such as constructing a reflective practice log.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Within the context of the chosen topic area students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the key theoretical principles and practice of reflective practice and evidence-based teaching;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how to use a range of sources of data to support and evaluate professional development;
  • Provide evidence of successful improvement of planning for teaching and learning in science through evaluation;
  • Show personal and professional growth through the production of a reflective log or other appropriate strategies.

Teaching Information

The teaching strategy will employ three broad approaches, where appropriate, with the aims of contextualising as well as theorising issues of central importance, the development of student autonomy, and the individualisation of study and support. These are:

Face-to-Face Teaching

Examples here include large and small group teaching methods, including presentations from staff and experienced professionals, debates, case study analyses, student presentations and practical workshops.


E-Learning approaches will be used to facilitate individualised study and support within the broad parameters of the units and programme. These will include: synchronous and asynchronous on-line discussion (with individuals and groups), online supervision and peer mentoring, guidance and feedback. Critical use of Web resources will be encouraged.

Individual Research

Where appropriate, the use of action research, small-scale empirical studies and observations of professional practice will be encouraged and facilitated to help students contextualise their theoretical study.

Contact Hours

20 hours

Assessment Information

Assessment is designed to enable students to engage critically with literature whilst being flexible according to student circumstance and inclination.

Students will work with the tutor to identify personal, social and professional development goals through innovation in science education and create a reflective practice log of their progress towards these goals.

Summative Assessment

A written report, or equivalent, of 4,000 words in which students will use the log above as a source to report their selected innovation, its implementation and the subsequent outcomes as a critical, analytic case study. This report should include the relevant theoretical frameworks, evidence of the use of data to support professional development and a bibliography.

Reading and References

  • Bell, B., & Gilbert, J. (1996). Teacher Development: A Model from Science Education. London: Falmer.
  • Darling-Hammond, L., & Bransford, J. (2005). Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and be Able to Do. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Dillon, J. (2002). Managing teacher development: The changing role of the Head of Department in England, in P. Fraser-Abder (ed.), Professional Development in Science Teacher Education: Local Insights with Lessons for the Global Community. London: Taylor and Francis, pp. 172-186.
  • Fraser-Abder, P, ed. (2014). Professional Development in Science Teacher Education: Local Insight with Lessons for the Global Community. London: Routledge.
  • National Research Council. (2014). Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. S. Olson and J. Labov, Rapporteurs. Planning Committee on Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation, Teacher Advisory Council, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press
  • Pollard, A (2002). Reflective teaching. Effective and Evidence informed Professional Practice. Continuum Press, London.