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Trainee teachers’ understandings of news stories about science: beyond ideas about uncertainty

Kirkman, John Robert (2014)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This study explores how science and history trainee teachers, who have different amounts of higher education in science, respond to news reports about science. In semi-structured interviews, using researcher and reader selected articles, readers were asked about the likelihood of veracity of knowledge claims and also their reactions to what they read.

The thesis reports a range of heuristics which served to increase, or decrease, epistemic distance and so make the reader more or less willing to accept scientific claims as true. The quality of participants’ responses to news stories was also examined by using concepts maps to identify the extent to which ideas were interconnected. Concept maps were found to have a networked structures for both groups of participants, however, there was limited evidence for participant use of ‘ideas about interconnectedness’, thus there was limited evidence of epistemic thinking. The veracity of news stories is largely indeterminate for the non-expert reader given the limited information contained in the story and so readers’ multiple understandings are emphasised. Overall, there was not much difference between the two groups of readers.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Thomas, Gary and Stolberg, Tonie and Smith, Emma
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:School of Education
Subjects:LB Theory and practice of education
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:4407
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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