Department of Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education


Document Type


Date of this Version



Electronic Journal of Science Education Vol. 17, No. 3 (2013)


© 2013 Electronic Journal of Science Education (Southwestern University)


Recent efforts to reform science education have strongly emphasized the understanding of the nature of science (NOS) as important to achieving broader scientific literacy. Despite the realization that students‘ understanding of NOS is important, there is a gap between research and practice. In order to teach NOS effectively in pre-college or college classrooms, teachers need appropriate activities, examples, and models of instruction that can contribute towards the development of their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) for teaching NOS. One widespread and readily-available source teachers may consult to find appropriate models of teaching practice and example activities is professional journals. The present study investigates articles published in the Journal of College Science Teaching (JCST) in the years 1996-2012 (total n=47). We explored the extent to which these provide appropriate models for teaching NOS at the college level and the degree to which the information included can serve to inform readers‘ PCK for teaching NOS. The findings reveal that there is not a diverse representation of examples for teaching specific aspects of NOS outlined in the reforms. Furthermore, we found a discrepancy between recommendations for effective teaching of NOS in the research literature and the approaches advocated in the articles. Few of the articles included the kinds of robust information that could inform college instructors‘ PCK for NOS, particularly in regard to assessment. The study identifies gaps in the literature to be explored in further research.