Course Identification

Change in Science Education: Goals, Obstacles, Possibilities

Lecturers and Teaching Assistants

Dr. Hanna J. Arzi

Course Schedule and Location

Second Semester
Monday, 10:30 - 12:00, Musher, Lab 2

Field of Study, Course Type and Credit Points

Science Teaching: Lecture; Elective; 2.00 points


השיעור הראשון יתקיים ב 1.4





Language of Instruction


Attendance and participation

Required in at least 80% of the lectures

Grade Type

Pass / Fail

Grade Breakdown (in %)


Evaluation Type

Final assignment

Scheduled date 1


Estimated Weekly Independent Workload (in hours)



Why is science education often described in terms of "crisis" and need of reform? Why do issues keep re-emerging, and why is it difficult to achieve deep, sustainable, and widely-spread change? The course will explore these questions from interlinked perspectives -- historical, political, cultural, and technical -- by drawing from two literature sources: the science education literature and the literature on educational change. Persisting target issues -- what to change, and process issues -- how to change, will be illustrated through exemplary case studies of change in different countries. The discussion of key problems and theoretical frameworks will attend, inter alia, to fuzzy goals that are on the move; to the notions of incremental versus fundamental change; to the linear stages view of planned change versus the non-linear nature of actual change processes; to top-down versus bottom-up and to re-structuring versus re-culturing approaches; and to the preference for short- over long-term tasks. Despite not fully-realized expectations, past attempts at change left imprints which have accumulated gradually into significant contributions. The course aims to build a knowledge base that could be used in the follow-up of previous work and in the development of hopefully more successful new programs, with the understanding that to enhance science education continuously change should be a permanent state.


  1. The course will be given in Hebrew (or in English upon request).
  2. Students specializing in mathematics education are welcome, even though the course title refers to science education.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course students should be able to:
  1. discuss major issues and changes in science education from the mid-twentieth century to date;
  2. read critically the literature on change in science education and education in general;
  3. analyze change plans from multiple perspectives, thus differentiating theory- and evidence-based programs from initiatives driven primarily by quick fixes, fads, or pressure of interest groups;
  4. self-start a local change (e.g., in a classroom, school, or community center), contribute to the scale-up of ongoing projects and to the development of new programs.

Reading List

An annotated list of recommended reading will be available on the course website at the beginning of the  semester. During the course, discussions of case studies of change will be based on student guided reading of several papers that will be uploaded to the website. The reading list will grow along the course as items will be added depending on issues that may extend beyond the discussions and on student emerging interests. Whoever wants a preview of issues and perspectives that will be raised in the course is invited to leaf through the following references:

  1. Arzi, H.J. (2012). Change -- a desired permanent state in science education. In B.J. Fraser, K.G. Tobin, & C.J. McRobbie (Eds.), Second international handbook of science education (pp. 883-898). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.
  2. Tyack, D., & Cuban, L. (1995). Tinkering toward Utopia: A century of public school reform. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.