Natural Sciences Didactics PPUNAT15

Course Description


This course curriculum refers to the didactics course in natural sciences (as an integrated subject) and to the subjects, biology, physics and chemistry. The course is primarily intended to provide students with a basis for teaching natural sciences in the lower secondary school (5th to 7th grades), and in the first grade of the upper secondary school. The course is theory-, experience- and practice-related, and will help students to develop skills that will enable them to respond in a reflective way in teaching situations.

Aims and target areas

Didactics in the natural sciences will together with pedagogy and teaching practice, help the students to develop:

  • Understanding of the unique character of the subject
  • Knowledge about how pupils learn natural sciences and skills in differentiating instruction and in providing lessons adapted to the abilities and backgrounds of the pupils
  • The ability to plan and carry out instruction in the natural sciences and in employing varied methods and learning aids
  • Insight, attitudes and skills that are relevant to teaching with the aim of helping pupils experience natural sciences as being relevant to their daily lives and to the local and global environment
  • Knowledge of and skills in the various ways in which they may evaluate a pupil’s learning and their own teaching of natural sciences

The content is divided into five target areas which illuminate the teaching of natural sciences from various perspectives, in keeping with the aims of the course. Each target area comprises several major themes and approaches which will be presented in relation to each other, allowing us to provide a general overview of didactic issues. Some of the main elements will be exemplified from a didactic standpoint in relation to the subjects biology, physics, geology and chemistry.

The scope and content of the various target areas

1. Natural sciences as a school subject

The main elements are:

  • Natural sciences in society
  • Natural sciences, values and environmental issues
  • The natural sciences as independent subjects or as parts of integrated natural sciences; new trends
  • Rationale for inclusion of the subject in the curriculum, and the aims of the school subject
  • Subject curricula and textbooks for the school subject
  • Natural sciences in other countries

2. The student and natural sciences

The main themes are:

  • Learning theories and instruction in natural sciences
  • Pupils’ knowledge of the subject from earlier instruction
  • Development of subject-relevant concepts, learning disabilities, misconceptions and popular ideas
  • Motivation, interests, experiences and attitudes
  • The pupil as a resource, and pupil participation
  • Adapted teaching in natural sciences
  • Responsibility for one’s own learning
  • Enjoyment of nature and engagement in environmental issues

The main themes are:

  • Skills and qualifications for teaching natural sciences
  • Teaching natural sciences and the various roles of the teacher
  • Cooperation between teachers and interdisciplinary activities.
  • Keeping track of current and further developments concerning the subject and its teaching.
  • Risks and responsibility for safety in the natural sciences classroom.

4. Practical organisation of teaching and learning natural sciences

The main themes are:

  • Natural sciences and aims
  • Organise and carry out teaching
  • Use of textbooks, computer equipment and other teaching and learning aids
  • Writing in natural sciences teaching
  • Pupil experiments and demonstrations
  • Theme- and project-based teaching
  • Solving exercises and the use of various types of exercises
  • Using the local community (study trips)

5. Assessment and setting grades in natural sciences

The main themes are:

  • Assessment of students’ own teaching
  • Total assessment of pupils
  • Setting grades
Teaching and learning methods

The teaching and other activities in the course are planned so as to ensure that the student will gain broad experience of various types of teaching. This will include lectures, classroom teaching, project work, group work and the use of ICT. In order to underline the distinct character of natural sciences, emphasis will be placed on fieldwork, laboratory exercises and demonstrations.

The teaching and learning methods that are used in the course, also form part of the content of the course, in the sense that by participating in the teaching activities, students will acquire practical skills and methods that they will be able to employ in their future teaching jobs. There will be an emphasis on teaching and learning methods that promote ‘responsibility for one’s own learning’.

Attendance at teaching in target area 1, Natural Sciences as a school subject, is not mandatory. The other target areas require mandatory attendance.

Participation in group activities is mandatory and all of the periods of teaching practice, as well as preparatory and follow-up work, are also mandatory. The semester plan (to be handed out at the beginning of the semester) provides information regarding mandatory submissions of student work. All of the mandatory submissions must be awarded a passing mark by the course teacher(s) before a candidate will be permitted to take the final examination.

Assessment Methods

Throughout the course, students must submit mandatory assignments, and carry out assignments individually or in groups. Three of these pieces of work will be included in a ‘Presentation Portfolio’ which must be submitted for internal assessment by two of the subject teachers at the end of the semester. The semester plan provides information concerning the date of submission for the mandatory assignments and the Presentation Portfolio.

The final examination

a) Internal assessment of the portfolio counts for 40% of the final grade (Presentation Portfolio)

b) A 3-hour individual written examination counts for 60% of the final grade.

Other mandatory work is assessed internally by the subject teacher(s) as pass/fail.

Before candidates will be permitted to take the final examination they must first have had their Presentation Portfolio approved. The final grade will be entered on the diploma, graded from A to F, where A represents the highest grade, and E the lowest passing grade. Each part of the assessment must receive a passing grade in order to achieve a final passing grade for the course.

Please refer to Telemark University College’s Examination Regulation for further information.

Minor adjustments may occur during the academic year, subject to the decision of the Dean

Publisert av / forfatter Frode Evenstad <>, last modified Ian Hector Harkness - 01/04/2011