Analysing teacher behaviour in synthesizing hands-on and minds-on during practical work

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Practical work in school science has been ineffective due to students not connecting hands-on to minds-on aspects. With the designation Thinking-Back-and-Forth (TBF)we present a framework with a taxonomy of TBF activities.

Aim was to gain insight how teachers stimulate and support their students in TBF. Detailed information about what teachers do and what limitations they experience, provides insight into how they pay attention to TBF and how this can be improved.

Nineteen Dutch physics and chemistry teachers in grades 8 and 9.
Design and Methods

Based on the TBF framework an observation instrument was developed to analyse activities and teacher behaviour. 19 practical science lessons were observed and teachers were interviewed about their behaviour and the learning activities they pursue regarding TBF.

Overall, teachers seem to consider practical work primarily from the point of view of conducting an experiment. They encourage TBF predominantly by having their students draw conclusions or generate explanations. Assigning tasks to design experiments or generate predictions is less common and activities fostering discussions are rarely observed. Insufficient hands-on and minds-on student abilities as well as limited time available are seen as impediments. Another major impediment is teachers’ lack of cognizance of possible TBF activities while designing practical lessons.

Teachers have a positive attitude towards TBF. They indicated that the TBF framework with the taxonomy of activities functioned as a reflection tool to think more consciously about their lessons and offers the possibility to improve existing practical work. This indicates that the TBF framework can be used by teachers and teacher-educators to provide more diverse student activities to connect hands-on to minds-on. This study also showed that cognizance about designing and implementing TBF activities in practical work needs to be improved in both pre-service and in-service teacher training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalResearch in Science and Technological Education
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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