Qualitative research in science education: A literature review of current publications

Sabrina D. Stanley 1 2 * , William Boden Robertson 3
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1 Department of Teaching, Learning, & Leadership, University of North Alabama, Florence, AL, USA
2 Department of Curriculum & Instruction, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA
3 Department of Educational Studies, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA
* Corresponding Author
EUR J SCI MATH ED, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp. 175-199. https://doi.org/10.30935/scimath/14293
Published Online: 26 February 2024, Published: 01 April 2024
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This study analyzed articles from the last four years regarding how science education research is framed and discussed as qualitative research. The research question that guided this study was: To what extent do qualitative secondary science teaching research publications reflect high-quality practices found in mainstream methodological texts? The researchers utilized a systematic literature review methodology by (1) creating search terms based on the research question; (2) choosing relevant databases in which to search; (3) conducting the search and gathering articles; and (4) selecting articles based on inclusion criteria. The researchers chose “secondary education” and “science teaching” as search terms relevant to this study. Articles included in the review were peer-reviewed for credibility, available free online as full-text for accessibility, and available in English, which is the authors’ first language. The researchers conducted three levels of screening on the full collection of articles–title, abstract, then methods, to efficiently narrow the large sample of qualitative science education research articles to a manageable and characteristic selection. The findings include that few articles addressed science teaching and learning with deep qualitative engagement. Some articles claimed to use specific qualitative methodologies without adequately expressing aspects of those methodologies, which lend support to the credibility, transferability, dependability, or confirmability of the articles such as the researchers’ subjectivity or member-checking. Those studies that did are indeed diamonds in the ruff.


Stanley, S. D., & Robertson, W. B. (2024). Qualitative research in science education: A literature review of current publications. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 12(2), 175-199. https://doi.org/10.30935/scimath/14293


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