Conference proceedings article

Integrated or subject-specific science education: What enable the students to better scientific literacy? : Nationella forskarskolan för naturvetenskapernas och teknikens didaktik (The Swedish National Graduate School inScience and Technology Education, FontD)


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Publication Details

Subtitle: Nationella forskarskolan för naturvetenskapernas och teknikens didaktik (The Swedish National Graduate School inScience and Technology Education, FontD)

Author list: Åström, Maria

Publisher: Linköping univeristy

Place: Linköping

Publication year: 2006

ISBN: 978-91-85715-59-6


This thesis is an explorative experimental study in two parts of different ways of organising

Science education in the Swedish context. The first study deals with the question if students

attain higher scores on test results if they have been working with integrated Science

compared to subject-specific Science i.e. Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The second study

concerns the similarities and differences between integrated Science education and Science

education in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, especially in the teaching organisation.

The introduction describes the nature of integrated curriculum, what integrated learning is,

issues about integrated Science education, in what way integration is carried out, between

subjects or within subjects, what the opposite to integrated Science is (here named as subjectspecific

science education) in the Swedish context and what the Swedish curriculum has to

say about integrated Science. Previous studies in integrated curriculum looking at students’

results are referred to, and it is argued for the use of the OECD’s PISA assessment instrument

in this study.

The thesis consists of two studies, one quantitative and one qualitative, within the above

framework. The quantitative study is an attempt to find differences in scores on students’

written results on a large-scale assessment in scientific literacy between students studying in

different organisations of Science education. The qualitative study is an attempt to describe

differences at classroom level between integrated Science and subject-specific Science. This

gives a quite rich description of four schools (cases) in a small town and how they organise

their teaching integrated or subject-specific.

No differences in students’ results between different Science organisations were found in the

quantitative study in this thesis. Possible explanations for the lack of differences in students’

results are discussed in the article. An additional investigation that attempts to test the variable

used in the quantitative study is carried out in the thesis, with an attempt to sharpen the

teacher organisation variable. This is done to find out if it is possible that there can be found

differences with the sharpened variable.

The qualitative study gives a glimpse of some differences in the implemented curriculum

between schools working with integrated Science education and a school that works subjectspecifically.

The teachers do the overall lesson plans in different ways according to which

organisation according to integrated or subject-specific Science they work with. When asked

in a survey what kind of Science organisation they have, students from the four schools

studied answered differently between schools and also, sometimes, within the same school. A

further analysis of this second study is carried out by defining a conceptual framework used as

structure and a possible explanation for differences between students’ views and teachers’

views on the organisation of Science education. This latter analysis tries to give an enriched

description in mainly the two levels of the implemented and attained curricula, and tries to

discuss the difference in students’ attained curriculum.

A final discussion concludes the thesis and concerns an elaboration of the results of the thesis,

problems with the main variable involved in the two studies and the possibility that the

teacher actions effects also the magnitude of students’ achievement on tests.


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