Interaction of socio-cultural backgrounds and beliefs with conceptions of the nature of science, societal issues, and instructional ideology among secondary science teachers in Zimbabwe
Several scales were administered to 63 secondary science teachers in an inservice degree program to explore a hypothesis that there is an inverse relationship between socio-cultural context and orientation to traditional culture and understanding of the nature of science, awareness of science-technology related societal issues, and instructional ideology preference. A written open ended-question and a focus group interview explored their perceptions concerning interaction of traditional culture and science education. Practically all teachers in the sample gave an example of negative interaction or consequence of traditional beliefs and thinking; teachers believed that indigenous culture and science are two independent and seemingly irreconcilable systems of thinking, experiencing, and explaining phenomena. Orientation toward indigenous traditional culture was low but positively correlated to preference for traditional instructional ideology and modestly negatively correlated to inquiry instructional ideology, nature of science, and awareness of societal issue scores;Teachers had inadequate understanding of a generalized model of the nature of science but showed adequate conception of the nature of scientific knowledge model. Nature of science scores were significantly lower than those of three international comparison samples. They had a positive and socially acceptable level of awareness of a societal issue, environmental conservation, and were pessimistic about the ability and desirability of science and technology to resolve societal or environmental problems. The sample demonstrated authoritarian tendencies in their instructional ideology and in their conception of the nature of science. For example, they perceived that practical applications and production of useful technology for improving human welfare rather than curiosity were the driving force of science. They viewed scientific theories and laws as permanent and accepted the view of science as an organized body of knowledge obtained via the scientific method with a determinate number of steps. Curriculum variables may be more important than socio-cultural variables in accounting for trends in the teachers' perceptions.