Theories & Perspectives in Science Education

Herr (2008) a variety of theories and perspectives to engage students in Science Education. These theories include active learning, teaching to multiple learning modalities, teaching to multiple intelligences, metacognitive strategies, nurturing higher order reasoning, constructivism, and building pedagogical content knowledge. It is important to understand that there is no one right method. Unfortunately, the focus of improving science instruction has, to a large degree, been centered over implementing one theory and practice over another. Current research suggests the dialogue to improve student learning and teaching should be focused on the intermingling of strategies dependent on the goal of a particular lesson (Ward & Murray-Ward, 1999).

Of particular interest to me are the implementation metacognitive teaching strategies and improving the pedagogical content knowledge in science. These two approaches are essentially the “how” and the “what” of teaching.  Metacognition is the "how" students learn.  Content knowledge is the “what” students will learn. The weaving of both theories is essential to increase student learning and teaching of science. Providing students with metacognitive strategies empowers them to think about their thinking (Herr, 2008).  Equipping students who have not mastered the skills of monitoring their ability to think critically increases their ability to approach unknown concepts and adapt to new learnings (Flavell, 1979). Furthermore, enhancing a teachers pedagogical content knowledge equips educators with the skills to successful prepare our next generation of scientists, engineers, doctors, and leaders.


Flavell, J. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive developmental inquiry.
        American Psychologist, 34, 906–911.

Ward, A. W., & Murray-Ward, M. (1999). Assessment in the classroom. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.