We will post findings of our research here as we produce them.
We are pleased to say that a paper submitted to the Journal, Science Education International, drawing on an exploratory survey of pupils' thinking about science and religion, has now been published. The details are below and a copy of the paper can be downloaded from this site.
Taber, K. S., Billingsley, B., Riga, F., & Newdick, H. (2011). To what extent do pupils perceive science to be inconsistent with religious faith? An exploratory survey of 13-14 year-old English pupils. Science Education International, 22(2), 99-118.
In January 2011, we presented a paper at the Education in a Post Secular Society Conference, hosted by The British Education Research Association and the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain. The paper is called, “One day, we may be able to explain the whole universe using science alone”: A study to explore pupils’ ideas about the limitations of science.
Secondary students' responses to perceptions of the relationship between
Keith S Taber, Berry Billingsley, Fran Riga & Helen Newdick
It has been argued that learning science may be complicated, and even
compromised, when students hold worldviews that may seem at odds with
what is presented in science lessons. In particular, in some parts of the
world, there has been considerable concern that students from particular
religious backgrounds may reject some science teaching if perceived
as inconsistent with their faith commitments. In this paper we report the
findings from an interview study that investigated how twelve 13-14 year
olds from four diverse English schools perceived the relationship between
science and religion. In particular, we consider how these students
responded to any perceived contradiction and conflict between science
and religion. We found a spectrum of stances among this small sample
of secondary students. The more extreme positions represented a choice
for either science or religion when conflict was perceived. However, other
stances were found that sought a synthesis, accommodated inconsistent
frameworks or considered science and religion as non-interacting domains.
These alternative stances present a similar range of possibilities to the
possible outcomes that have been discussed when students' informal ideas
in science are inconsistent with formal science teaching. The implications
for further research and for curriculum development and teaching are
A version of the paper is available via the link at the bottom of this page. This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the article,
Taber, K. S., Billingsley, B., Riga, F. and Newdick, H. (2011), Secondary students' responses to perceptions of the relationship between science and religion: Stances identified from an interview study. Science Education, 95: n/a. doi: 10.1002/sce.20459
which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/sce.20459/full
In early January 2011, Fran and Helen ran a workshop session at the Association for Science Education annual conference held in Reading. Download or view the PowerPoint presentation from the session.
At the recent BERA (British Educational Research Association) Conference which ran from 1st - 4th September 2010, at the University of Warwick, we presented a paper called:
Teachers' perspectives on collaborative teaching about the ‘Big Questions' in secondary schools: The silent treatment.
Abstract: There is much talk about how science teachers should conduct lessons on how the universe began and how life began, given that a proportion of pupils will have religious beliefs relating to these topics. In this debate, it is often said that ideally, discussions about the relationships between science and religion should take place in religious education and not science education classes. In this paper, we draw on interviews with eight teachers from four secondary schools in England to explore the issue of whether ideas and questions raised by science teaching are taken into religious education classes for further enquiry. Our findings in this small study seem to show a lack of communication between the departments and a lack of familiarity by science teachers and RE teachers about what is taught in the other classroom. We then identify some of the reasons why teaching on the ‘Big Questions,’ as currently delivered by science and RE teachers appears to be disjointed.