Coteaching and Disturbances: Building a Better System for Learning to Teach Science

Catherine Milne, Kathryn Scantlebury, Jason Blonstein, Susan Gleason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Science education research has examined the benefits of coteaching for learning to teach in elementary and secondary school contexts where coteachers bring variable levels of experience to the work of coteaching. Coteaching as a pedagogical strategy is being implemented at the university level but with limited research. Drawing from the field of activity theory and our emic experience as coteachers, we examine the enactment of coteaching in university science education courses. One of the tools central to our examination of coteaching included the analysis of disturbances in the work and object of preparing science teachers. This analysis highlighted the role, during discursive interactions, of problem posing and problem solving for addressing observed disturbances. The presence of an extra instructor provided increased opportunities in the system for recognizing and valuing disturbances as indicators of underlying contradictions or tensions in elements of the activity system of the learning and teaching of science teachers. Our analysis suggests that coteaching offers expanded opportunities for the evolution of the activity system of preparing science teachers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-440
Number of pages28
JournalResearch in Science Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Activity theory
  • Coteaching
  • Preservice science education
  • Science teacher education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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