8. Any formulation of competencies in science education, without reference to any assumptions about the structure of a future science curriculum document, would contribute very little to the debate.
Framing competencies that will effectively seed into, and ramify through, a future science curriculum (see principle 5, above) requires assumptions. We assume that a future New Zealand science curriculum will contain the present six-strand structure, but that the scope and contents of the strands, especially the integrating strands, may be quite radically different. For reasons discussed in Hipkins and Barker (2002), the present integrating strand “Making Sense of the Nature of Science and its Relationship to Technology” may be redesignated the “Nature of Science” strand. A key feature would be the clarification that this strand concerns knowledge about science itself, especially about the nature of science knowledge, about how scientists work, and about the place of science in society. The present integrating strand “Developing Scientific Skills and Attitudes” (sic, Science in the New Zealand Curriculum, p.42; not “investigative”, p.44) could be clarified as applying to students, as opposed to scientists (see above), and be substantially reworked to enumerate science competencies. ‘Attitudes’ as promised by Science in the New Zealand Curriculum, but not actually delivered (Hipkins and Barker, 2002), could also articulated here.
The Context for Competencies: A Revised Framework and a Revised Science Curriculum
We have contended (principle 8) that the locations and relationships of competencies in the broad structures of a revised Framework and a revised Science Curriculum are probably as important as the formulation of the competencies themselves. We therefore propose (Figure 3) a possible model that defines the context of essential competencies and science competencies. It will be noted that:
The Framework’s essential competencies are transferred directly and prominently into science curriculum (principle 4), they are located at the level of Aims of the science curriculum (principle 2), and they should be able (see below) to be translated into a set of science competencies in the body of the science curriculum (principle 5). There is a clear indication of two-way transfer between essential competencies and science competencies (principle 6); the hatched arrows indicating this are double-headed.
The science competencies are located in the site currently occupied by ‘science skills’, but the competencies envisaged here are much broader than the present skills (principle 1). They are a catalogue of human capabilities which (as the broad unhatched arrows show) ramify through the whole science curriculum. These science competencies can be interpreted either in terms of the activities of learners in classrooms (the Contextual Strands) OR, in accordance with principle 7, in terms of scientists and citizens in society at large (the Nature of Science strand). This dual interpretation is in line with the current construction of the ‘Science IS’ website.
From TKI | NZ Curriculum Marautanga Project | What’s happening | Science | Reframing the essential skills
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