NICER

The Beginning Teacher in the Science/Religion Encounter: Building Confidence for an Integrated Vision of Knowledge

This project, which is being undertaken by the National Institute for Christian Education Research (NICER) under the leadership of Professor Bob Bowie, is being funded by Templeton World Charity Foundation as part of a wider scheme of research titled Big Questions in Classrooms.

Although studies have explored school pupils’ attitudes concerning science and religion, there has been little research on beginning teachers’ experiences in their development and formation and not much is known about how big questions are framed in classrooms or the extent of teachers’ experiences of the science/religion encounter. This project seeks to address this gap, develop informed responses for teacher education and find some preliminary understandings of the impact of the use of that knowledge in teacher education programmes.

The project comprises three sub-projects two of which are researching specific gaps in knowledge of teacher development and how big questions are framed in science and RE classrooms and a third which seeks to implement some changes.

Sub-project 1, which is being led by Dr Lynn Revell and Dr John-Paul Riordan, is researching the encounter between science and religion in primary and secondary science and RE classrooms, using a video research technique that uses clips of recorded interactions in the classroom as catalysts for talking about and making sense of the encounter.

Ms Caroline Thomas and Dr Mary Woolley are leading Sub-project 2 which is researching the science/religion understanding and classroom experience of student teachers of RE and science at universities across the country with teacher training programmes. This sub-project will use group interviews and quantitative surveys to generate a comprehensive understanding of where student teachers find themselves at the beginning of their school professional lives. If you would like to make an application for your university to participate in this aspect of the research please read the Participation Agreement and complete and return an application form. If you are a ‘beginning teacher’ (in your training year or a NQT for primary or secondary science and RE) and would like to take part in the online survey please register your interest with Gill Harrison, Project Administrator: gill.harrison@canterbury.ac.uk

Sub-project 3 will combine the findings of both to make a teacher education resource for use by the participating universities, and evaluate its initial impact trialling a change to teacher education programs and evaluating the early impact of that change.

The project will produce reports and recommendations for teacher education poviders designed to enrich their programmes, a set of academic publications written to complement academic knowledge and a network impact engagement strategy designed to use the findings to influence practice more systemically.

These outputs and influences aim to shape the research conversation to ground it more closely to teacher experience and change aspects of teacher education programmes to improve how new teachers are prepared for the science/religion encounter in the classroom.

Resources will be made available on this website when they become available.

Early findings are expected to be presented at a range of events including the European Conference on Educational Research and Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies.