Investigating Pre-service Natural Science Teachers’ perceptions of earth in space through spatial modelling and argumentation
This study involves a group of pre-service teachers who are specialising in Science and Mathematics education at a university in the Western Cape province of South Africa. The aim of the study was to investigate perceptions about the earth in space held by the pre-service natural science teachers. A related aim was to create awareness among the prospective teachers about various views that people hold about the earth as against the scientifically valid view (Govender, 2009, Plummer & Zahm, 2010, Schneps & Sadler, 1989). To determine and improve the prospective teachers’ perceptions and awareness about the significance of the earth in space the study adopted the dialogical argumentation model (DAIM) and spatial modelling as a theoretical framework (Ogunniyi, 2013). Further, the study used pre- and post-test data based on the responses of the pre-service teachers to questionnaires, focus group interviews and reflective diaries. The data set was analysed using a mixed methods approach (qualitative and quantitative). Results from the study show that most the pre-service teachers involved in the study hold both scientific and alternative conceptions about the earth in space. However, they seem to suppress the latter because they believe them to be unscientific. In addition they believe that their role is to impart scientific knowledge to learners. As has been revealed in a number of studies, some of the prospective teachers did not have much background in geography.