Educative Curricula and PCK Development Driven by STEM Professional Learning in Rural and Remote Schools: A longitudinal Type IV Case Study
Science performance overall in Australia is flat-lining. Science teachers hold the key to addressing this issue. One way to improve the effectiveness of science teachers is to improve their Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) through professional learning experiences, but doing so in the middle-school years in rural and remote settings through traditional face-to-face professional learning activities poses many challenges. Educative curricula designed to improve teachers’ science PCK as well as learning outcomes for students provide an alternative to traditional face-to-face professional learning for teachers in isolated locations. The Middle Years Astronomy Project is an example of one educative curriculum currently in use in the middle years of some rural and remote schools. The research reported here employed a Type IV multiple-case, embedded mixed-methods case study design to collect data from four remote sites in Western Australia and four rural sites in Victoria. The results of this research indicate that the educative curriculum improved teachers’ science PCK for most teachers. Reasons for this are presented. The findings also suggest that PCK development takes time and requires a planned and systematic approach to teacher career development with support from the employer. It also suggests that using educative curricula to improve the PCK of rural and remote science teachers, as well as science student learning outcomes, is a strategy worthy of pursuit.