This paper presents the third study of research trends in science education. In this review, a total of 990 papers published in the International Journal of Science Education, the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, and Science Education from 2008 to 2012 were analyzed. The results indicate that in the recent five years (2008-2012), the top three research topics in the published papers were those regarding the context of students' learning, science teaching, and students' conceptual learning. The changes in the most popular research topics in the past 15 years also evidentially indicate shifts in the journals' preferences and researchers' interest. For example, in 2003-2007, context of students' learning replaced students' conceptual learning, which was the most published research topic from 1998 to 2002. The research topic of students' learning contexts continued to rank the first in 2008-2012. Moreover, there was an increasing trend of research papers regarding science teaching from 1998 to 2012. The analysis of highly cited papers revealed that research topics such as argumentation, inquiry-based learning, and scientific modeling were recently highlighted by science educators. In recent 15 years, productive researchers' publications also focused on the topics about context of students' learning, science teaching, and students' conceptual learning.
ASJC Scopus subject areas