Research about primary school teachers’ understanding of the meaning and implications of science and technology as a learning area has revealed considerable confusion about these terms, both in their professional sense and concerning their roles in education and economic development. Many countries established science and technology in their school curriculum to help pupils develop scientific and technological literacy but programme structures and emphasis have tended to differ. Malawi also attempted to achieve the goals for a scientifically and technologically literate citizenry through the introduction of an integrated science and technology as a single learning area in schools. While the need for scientifically and technologically literate citizens is governments’ strategic goal, teachers’ understanding of science and technology has implications on their teaching practices and ultimately on student learning. This paper reports on a study that aimed at identifying the teachers’ conceptualisation of science and technology and their teaching practices. The study was implemented using a qualitative paradigm in order to develop a holistic understanding of the situation in the schools and it was undertaken in two primary schools in Blantyre. Schools participating in the study were identified through convenient sampling and involved 8 science and technology teachers for standards 5-8 from each of the two schools. Data generation for the study involved classroom observations, group discussions and teachers completing an open ended questionnaire. The data generated were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings revealed the teachers’ gaps in content knowledge about scientific and technological concepts arising from their lack of understanding of the differences between science and technology. The teachers’ perceptions and practices were also compounded by the nature of the science and technology curriculum and the teachers’ lack of induction when the subject was being introduced. The study recommends redefining the assumptions of the science and technology curriculum. It also suggests providing interventions to help teachers’ develop appropriate conceptualisation of science and technology as this has implications on their choices of what to teach and how to teach it.
Key words: Science and technology, scientific literacy, technological literacy, teaching practices, curriculum change.
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