Use of Future Scenarios as a Pedagogical Approach for Science Teacher Education

Research paper by Kathryn Paige, David Lloyd

Indexed on: 09 Mar '16Published on: 24 Feb '16Published in: Research in Science Education


Futures studies is usually a transdisciplinary study and as such embraces the physical world of the sciences and system sciences and the subjective world of individuals and cultures, as well as the time dimension—past, present and futures. Science education, where student interests, opportunities and challenges often manifest themselves, can provide a suitable entry point for futures work. In this paper, we describe how we have used futures themes, concepts and techniques both implicitly and explicitly in our undergraduate middle school teacher education courses and, in particular, science curriculum and general studies courses. Taking a critical orientation to the past and the present in these courses enables the future to be more than a mere reproduction of the status quo and opens up a range of possible futures in the areas of current interest. For example, having studied middle school teaching and learning in mathematics and science, students explore the past, present and possible future of a natural part of a university campus. In a general studies course on the science of the Earth’s atmosphere, students construct a normative futures scenario on living in a changing climate. One way to gain insight into an uncertain future is to construct scenarios. This technique has been used since the 1970s to bring issues of environment and development—areas with strong science content—to the attention of both scientists and policymakers.