Teaching science out-of-field: beliefs and practices

Coral Campbell, Colleen Vale, Chris Speldewinde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Out-of-field teaching in science is a phenomenon in many secondary schools across the world. While the reasons for out-of-field teaching are complex, its incidence is heightened in low socio-economic communities and in regional and remote school locations. Research on out-of-field science teaching in secondary schools has tended to focus on teacher competence, particularly in relation to pedagogical content knowledge. However, while teachers’ beliefs and teaching practices within their specialist subject are shown to be related, it is unclear how teachers’ beliefs and practices alter when teaching across subject boundaries. Using a boundary-crossing lens, where teachers engage in passing back and forth between different contexts, this study explored the relationship between teachers’ beliefs about their in-field and out-of-field discipline (science) and the connections to their teaching practice. Interview data, including a video-stimulated interview of a lesson in a teacher’s specialist field and then a subsequent out-of-field lesson, were analysed using the framework of a belief that investigated the relationships between in-field and out-of-field beliefs and practices. Findings indicate that those who teach science out-of-field revert to traditional ways of teaching, despite being more open and adventurous in their in-field discipline areas. However, there were significant instances of boundary crossing with their pedagogy to support their teaching – both in-field and out-of-field. These findings support the development of structured mechanisms and strategies to assist teachers to cross boundaries to establish new and unique interdisciplinary practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-148
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Mathematics and Science Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • boundary crossing
  • constructivist beliefs
  • out-of-field teaching
  • process beliefs

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