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From doing to learning: Inquiry- and context-based science education in primary school
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences. (SMEER)
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to develop an understanding of primary school teachers’ knowledge of Inquiry- and Context-Based Science Education (IC-BaSE) from different perspectives: what it is, how to use it and why these strategies are used. There are at least two reasons for performing research in this field. First, there is a need for professional development in teaching science among primary school teachers. Second, IC-BaSE has been suggested to provide useful instructional strategies for stimulating students’ interests in learning science. The thesis contains four papers with the overall research question: How do primary school teachers reflect on Inquiry- and Context-based Science Education as a framework for teaching and learning in the primary school classroom? Both quantitative and qualitative research methods have been used. The main participants in the studies were twelve primary school teachers working with 10-12 year old students. The results are discussed with reference to theories mainly based on pragmatism, but also from a sociocultural perspective. Primary school teachers found IC-BaSE to provide useful instructional strategies in the primary school classroom, as it engaged their students and developed their skills in planning inquiries. The teachers developed their knowledge about IC-BaSE, what it is and how to use it.  Furthermore, the primary purpose of using IC-BaSE seemed to be that students should have fun. Students also responded positive to the use of IC-BaSE. However when teachers were informed about their students’ responses to IC-BaSE, they became more aware of the importance of informing the students about the purposes of the activities. The findings presented show that teachers need to move forward, not only be “doing”, but also knowing why they are doing the activities and how to do them. Students’ experiences can contribute to this awareness among teachers and develop the teaching practice.

Abstract [en]

Inquiry- and context-based science education (IC-BaSE) have been suggested as useful, stimulating students´ interests in learning science. The aim of this thesis is to develop an understanding of primary school teachers’ knowledge of IC-BaSE from different perspectives: what it is, how to use it and why these strategies are used.

The results are discussed with reference to theories mainly based on pragmatism, but also from a sociocultural perspective. The findings show that primary school teachers found IC-BaSE useful in the primary school classroom, as it engaged their students and developed their skills in planning inquiries. Students´ experiences of IC-BaSE are included and show positive responses to the use of these strategies. However, when teachers were informed about their students’ responses, they became more aware of the importance of informing the students about the purposes of the activities, and to reflect on why they themselves choose IC-BaSE as instructional strategies.

The findings presented show that teachers need to move forward, not only be “doing”, but also knowing why they are doing the activities and how to do them. Students’ experiences can contribute to this awareness among teachers and develop the teaching practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstad University Press, 2016. , 107 p.
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2016:16
Keyword [en]
inquiry- and context-based, instructional strategies, primary school, science education
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-41100ISBN: 978-91-7063-694-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-41100DiVA: diva2:913275
Public defence
2016-05-20, Eva Erikssonsalen, 21 A 342, Karlstad University, Karlstad, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-04-28 Created: 2016-03-21 Last updated: 2017-07-04Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Primary Teachers’ Reflections on Inquiry- and Context-Based Science Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Primary Teachers’ Reflections on Inquiry- and Context-Based Science Education
2017 (English)In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898, Vol. 47, no 2, 407-426 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Inquiry- and context-based teaching strategies have been proven to stimulate and motivate students’ interests in learning science. In this study, 12 teachers reflected on these strategies after using them in primary schools. The teachers participated in a continuous professional development (CPD) programme. During the programme, they were also introduced to a teaching model from a European project, where inquiry- and context-based education (IC-BaSE) strategies were fused. The research question related to teachers’ reflections on these teaching strategies, and whether they found the model to be useful in primary schools after testing it with their students. Data collection was performed during the CPD programme and consisted of audio-recorded group discussions, individual portfolios and field notes collected by researchers. Results showed that compared with using only one instructional strategy, teachers found the new teaching model to be a useful complement. However, their discussions also showed that they did not reflect on choices of strategies or purposes and aims relating to students’ understanding, or the content to be taught. Before the CPD programme, teachers discussed the use of inquiry mainly from the aspect that students enjoy practical work. After the programme, they identified additional reasons for using inquiry and discussed the importance of knowing why inquiry is performed. However, to develop teachers’ knowledge of instructional strategies as well as purposes for using certain strategies, there is need for further investigations among primary school teachers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2017
Keyword
Primary science teachers, Inquiry-based, Context-based, Instructional strategies, Pedagogical content knowledge
National Category
Didactics Biological Sciences
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-41081 (URN)10.1007/s11165-015-9507-5 (DOI)000398944800008 ()
Available from: 2016-03-17 Created: 2016-03-17 Last updated: 2017-07-03Bibliographically approved
2. Enhancing primary science: An exploration of teachers' own ideas of solutions to challenges in inquiry- and context-based teaching
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Enhancing primary science: An exploration of teachers' own ideas of solutions to challenges in inquiry- and context-based teaching
2016 (English)In: Education 3-13, ISSN 0300-4279, E-ISSN 1475-7575, Vol. 44, no 1, 81-92 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Studies of inquiry- and context-based science education (IC-BaSE) have shown that teachers find these approaches problematic. In this study, 12 primary school teachers’ reflections on challenges related to IC-BaSE are explored. The aim of the study was to investigate which challenges primary teachers experience when working with IC-BaSE and how these may be solved. Group discussions and individual portfolios were used for data collection. Content analysis showed that the challenges teachers experienced were mainly practical relating to: how to find contexts, lack of time, handling big classes, students working at different paces, handling materials, and the teachers' need of control. The teachers also presented their own ideas of solutions to the challenges.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2016
Keyword
inquiry- and context-based education; primary school; practical challenges; solutions
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-38249 (URN)10.1080/03004279.2015.1092456 (DOI)000372337700009 ()
Available from: 2015-10-27 Created: 2015-10-27 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. Primary Teachers’ Reflections on Inquiry- and Context-Based Science Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Primary Teachers’ Reflections on Inquiry- and Context-Based Science Education
2017 (English)In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898, Vol. 47, no 2, 407-426 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Inquiry- and context-based teaching strategies have been proven to stimulate and motivate students’ interests in learning science. In this study, 12 teachers reflected on these strategies after using them in primary schools. The teachers participated in a continuous professional development (CPD) programme. During the programme, they were also introduced to a teaching model from a European project, where inquiry- and context-based education (IC-BaSE) strategies were fused. The research question related to teachers’ reflections on these teaching strategies, and whether they found the model to be useful in primary schools after testing it with their students. Data collection was performed during the CPD programme and consisted of audio-recorded group discussions, individual portfolios and field notes collected by researchers. Results showed that compared with using only one instructional strategy, teachers found the new teaching model to be a useful complement. However, their discussions also showed that they did not reflect on choices of strategies or purposes and aims relating to students’ understanding, or the content to be taught. Before the CPD programme, teachers discussed the use of inquiry mainly from the aspect that students enjoy practical work. After the programme, they identified additional reasons for using inquiry and discussed the importance of knowing why inquiry is performed. However, to develop teachers’ knowledge of instructional strategies as well as purposes for using certain strategies, there is need for further investigations among primary school teachers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2017
Keyword
Primary science teachers, Inquiry-based, Context-based, Instructional strategies, Pedagogical content knowledge
National Category
Didactics Biological Sciences
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-41081 (URN)10.1007/s11165-015-9507-5 (DOI)000398944800008 ()
Available from: 2016-03-17 Created: 2016-03-17 Last updated: 2017-07-03Bibliographically approved
4. Student responses to a context- and inquiry-based three-step teaching model
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Student responses to a context- and inquiry-based three-step teaching model
2015 (English)In: Teaching science, ISSN 1449-6313, Vol. 61, no 2, 33-39 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Research has indicated that both context- and inquiry-based approaches could increase student interest in learning sciences. This case study aims to present a context- and inquiry-based combined teaching approach, using a three-step teaching model developed by the PROFILES project, and investigates Swedish students' responses to the activity. A Likert scale questionnaire was used for the data collection. The results of a total of 105 15-year-old students showed that, overall, the students were highly positive about this science teaching module.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Australian Science Teachers Association: , 2015
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-38248 (URN)
Available from: 2015-10-27 Created: 2015-10-27 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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