Reference Type: Journal Article
Record Number: 28
Author: Corrigan, Gerry; Taylor, Neil
Title: An Exploratory Study of the Effect a Self-Regulated Learning Environment Has on Pre-Service Primary Teachers' Perceptions of Teaching Science and Technology
Journal: International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education
Short Title: An Exploratory Study of the Effect a Self-Regulated Learning Environment Has on Pre-Service Primary Teachers' Perceptions of Teaching Science and Technology
Keywords: confidence - learning environment - metacognition - science education - self-regulated
Abstract: The effects of a Self Regulated Learning (SRL) environment on pre-service primary teachers of Science and Technology were investigated in this exploratory study. A representative sample of teachers was interviewed about their experience and how it impacted on them pedagogically, affectively, conceptually and metacognitively. The preliminary results suggest that students' understanding of how to implement activity-based learning was enhanced by the SRL environment. Additionally they claimed to be more confident about their ability to teach. However, conceptual understanding did not appear to improve. These findings will inform a larger study involving SRL that will also address the issue of subject content knowledge and attempt to develop overall teaching competence in primary Science and Technology.
Notes: A “representative” sample of teachers (6) was interviewed about their experience and how it impacted on them pedagogically, affectively, conceptually and metacognitively (they are in preservice training –first year, in Australia). The interviews were of 25-30 min. duration, done at the end of the project. In addition to teachers interviews, student reports were examined (taking into account knowledge of science concepts) This study will focus on providing a positive experience in science for pre-service primary teachers through a self-regulated learning (SRL) environment. The purpose of this study was to determine whether such an SRL approach, within the confines of a first year primary science and technology education unit, would deliver reflective, independent self-aware pre-service teachers.
Primary teachers’ dislike of science and their low confidence levels in teaching in this subject area, thus teaching strategies consistent with contemporary science curricula are frequently not used.
It was observed that low confidence levels are a significant barrier to teaching science and technology.
The negative attitudes can also be transformed into an anxiety about teaching science and technology. This anxiety appears to be widespread amongst those primary level teachers for whom the teaching of the discipline is compulsory.
A positive attitude towards science is seen to be vital at the primary level. Investigative hands-on activities, a learning environment that included support, enthusiasm, encouragement and the freedom to ask questions, is perceived as one that is positive by pre-service primary teachers.
The features of a learning environment that produce these changes are likely to have the following characteristics:
• Student centred;
• Inquiry based and hands-on activities;
• Investigative approaches;
• A supportive learning environment;
• Freedom to ask questions;
• Enthusiasm and encouragement; and
• Peer group discussions
It has been shown that addressing the confidence levels and attitudes of pre-service teachers of primary science and technology are important steps towards developing a broader adoption of science and technology in the primary classroom.
- Pre-service students involved in this study reported that they had found science problematic at high school and had not enjoyed it.
- Hands-on activities were likely to result in higher levels of motivation amongst pupils than text book work
- The provision of a supportive and flexible SRL environment also played a role in developing positive outcomes in the affective domain, particularly their confidence to teach primary science and technology
- The ability to manage resources appropriately, including equipment, was one of the issues that impinged upon teacher motivation to teach science.
Albeit with a small sample, results indicate that some pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) was gained by the participants.
There is an improvement in participant’s understanding of: hands-on investigative work; how to adapt activities for different stages; how to use equipment; outcomes and their uses and the relationships between pedagogy and pupil motivation
- freedom and flexibility, fun and lecturer support are of importance for confidence motivation and cognitive engagement.
- However despite having been required to explain the science behind their various activities, students were only able to do this superficially at best. (written by P. Lucas)
Reference Type: Journal Article
Record Number: 31
Author: Cros, P.; Respaud, S.
Title: Articulation entre des pratiques d'écriture et la construction des savoirs à l'école primaire : Une étude de cas
(Relations between written records and knowledge construction at primary school: a case of study.)
Short Title: Articulation entre des pratiques d'écriture et la construction des savoirs à l'école primaire : Une étude de cas
(Relations between written records and knowledge construction at primary school: a case of study.)
Keywords: primary school, written work, formative evaluation,
Abstract: The setting up of a sequence on changes of state has enabled 10 year old pupils to discover some properties of water: That water evaporates and that water vapour can condense under certain conditions. This sequence also enables them to discover , formulate and use, in communication situations, the criteria for realising certain types of written work which are met frequently in science: reports sheets (written as a group) and explanatory texts(written individually). The authors set the hypothesis that on the one hand, improving writing leads to improving knowledge building, and on the other, that experimenting and experiencing an investigative process leads to an improved writing of what has been experienced. Three evaluations (before starting the sequence, immediately after finished and a month later) showed that the construction of knowledge is fragile and that it needs time, whereas it would seem that attitudes and writing practices can be improved quickly.
Notes: The implementation of a unit about changes of state allowed to 10 year-old pupils (26) to discover some properties of water: water evaporates and water vapour can condense under certain conditions. This unit also allowed them to discover, formulate and use when communicating, the criteria for doing certain types of written records which are frequent on science: reports sheets (group record) and texts (individual records). The authors set the hypothesis that on the one hand, improving writing leads to improving knowledge building, and on the other, that experimenting and experiencing an investigative process leads to an improved writing of what has been experienced. Three evaluations as written questionnaire (before starting the unit, immediately after finished it and a month later) showed that the construction of knowledge is fragile and that it needs time to be done, whereas it seems that attitudes and writing practices can be improved quickly in particular at the level of sentences construction where the presence of connectors (because, since,…) are often included in the final questionnaire. The authors think that the work done at language level facilitated the construction of some scientific concepts (students need to explain, to argue, to discuss, to write and this allows the construction of the knowledge. At the same time the scientific activities allowed to develop some language skills= Better structure of written records. (written by P. Lucas)
Reference Type: Journal Article
Record Number: 32
Author: Cuevas, Peggy; Lee, Okhee; Hart, Juliet; Deaktor, Rachael
Title: Improving science inquiry with elementary students of diverse backgrounds
Journal: Journal of Research in Science Teaching
Short Title: Improving science inquiry with elementary students of diverse backgrounds
Keywords: impact, skills in inquiry, elementary, gender, ethnicity, languages, learning environment, audiotape, videotape, and transcription
Abstract: This study examined the impact of an inquiry-based instructional intervention on (a) children’s ability to conduct science inquiry overall and to use specific skills in inquiry, and (b) narrowing the gaps in children’s ability among demographic subgroups of students. The intervention consisted of instructional units, teacher workshops, and classroom practices. The study involved 25 third- and fourthgrade students from six elementary schools representing diverse linguistic and cultural groups. Quantitative results demonstrated that the intervention enhanced the inquiry ability of all students regardless of grade, achievement, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), home language, and English proficiency. Particularly, low-achieving, low-SES, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) exited students made impressive gains. The study adds to the existing literature on designing learning environments that foster science inquiry of all elementary students.
Notes: This study examined the impact of an inquiry-based science teaching on (a) children’s ability to conduct science inquiry overall and to use specific skills in inquiry, and (b) narrowing the gaps in children’s ability among demographic subgroups of students.
The study involved 25 third- and fourthgrade students from six elementary schools representing diverse linguistic and cultural groups. The intervention focuses on two units each for Grades 3 (Measurement and Matter) and 4 (TheWater Cycle andWeather). These topics follow the sequence of instruction from basic skills and concepts (measurement, matter) to variable global systems (the water cycle, weather). Each unit is designed for 2 to 3 months of implementation, assuming 2 hr of instruction per week. Over the course of the year, teachers attended four full-day workshops on regular school days. The study was conducted in a large, urban school district in the southeastern United States
with a high proportion of students from diverse languages and cultures. The six elementary schools participating in this research mirrored the demographics of the school district with respect to students’ ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, SES, and English proficiency, among other factors. This study involved students from each of the seven teachers who were selected for their effectiveness in teaching science and literacy
Today’s complex society requires members to analyze and respond to issues and a constantly expanding knowledge base. To achieve this goal, classrooms must be transformed from environments that encourage students to go beyond memorizing facts into taking the initiative and responsibility for their own learning. This study is part of a large-scale instructional intervention aimed at promoting achievement and equity in science and literacy for linguistically and culturally diverse elementary students.
The literature review focuses on two issues related to science inquiry: (a) lack of a commonly accepted definition of science inquiry and (b) instructional interventions to promote science inquiry with elementary students, particularly with linguistically and culturally diverse students. The National Science Education Standards definition (1996): Scientific inquiry refers to the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work. Inquiry also refers to the activities of students in which they develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural world.
However, the variety of definitions of science inquiry in the research community, coupled with multiple interpretations of inquiry by teachers and students, presents difficulties in conducting research and interpreting results. Thus, comparing results of studies on inquiry-based learning requires explanations of the type of inquiry employed in each study.
A reason frequently cited for the failure of educators to effectively implement inquiry-based instruction is the lack of empirical studies examining how best to teach the process of inquiry. In general, success at increasing students’ ability to ask questions is made more difficult if students do not already possess personal experience or prior knowledge of the topic to be studied.
Quantitative results demonstrated that the intervention enhanced the inquiry ability of all students regardless of grade, achievement, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), home language, and English proficiency.
Particularly, low-achieving, low-SES, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) exited students made impressive gains.
Significant increases in students’ ability to conduct inquiry in general and to employ each of the specific skills of the inquiry framework were observed but students’ ability to formulate a problem statement did not improve significantly. Students’ ability to develop procedures for solving the problem improved significantly.
Students’ ability to describe how they would use those materials to conduct their investigation was not statistically significant. There was also a significant positive increase in students’ ability to formulate a conclusion.
Gaps among Demographic Subgroups : Because of a small sample size, tests of statistical significance were not conducted but gains for the low-achieving students were dramatic.
At the start of participation in inquiry-based instruction, the ability of male and female students to conduct inquiry was almost on par. After participation in inquiry-based instruction, the rmean for females increased.
Both native English-speaking and native Spanish-speaking students increased significantly in their ability to conduct inquiry. The largest gains were observed for the skills of planning and drawing a conclusion
The intervention had a positive impact on students’ inquiry ability regardless of their grade, achievement, gender, SES, ethnicity, home language, or English proficiency. Comparisons among demographic subgroups indicate that the lowachievers and the low-SES students made impressive gains from the pre- to post-elicitations compared to their high-achieving and middle- SES counterparts. Students who had exited from ESOL programs also showed a greater gain than non-ESOL students. There were no noticeable differences in mean scores on the pre- and post-elicitations as well as gain scores between male and female students, indicating that both groups equally benefited from the intervention.
There are limitations to this study. One is the lack of a control or comparison group. Another limitation is the small sample size of 25 students who completed both pre- and post-elicitations. (written by P. Lucas)
Reference Type: Generic
Record Number: 143
Author: Furtak, Erin Marie
Title: Formative Assessment in K-8 Science Education: A Conceptual Review
Publisher: Center for Education at the National Research Council - National Academies of sciences
Type of Work: commissioned paper
Short Title: Formative Assessment in K-8 Science Education: A Conceptual Review
Keywords: formative assessment, research, literature review, K-8,
Abstract: The original intent of this paper was to examine research that has been performed to date on formative assessment in K-8 science classrooms for the purpose of identifying common practices and emergent models of classroom-based formative assessment. However, a careful review of available literature revealed that strikingly little research has been performed in this important area. Thus, this paper is more of a review of new and important conceptual issues in formative assessment practices in K-8 science education since Black & Wiliam’s (1998a) review.
Reference Type: Journal Article
Record Number: 37
Author: Gott, R.; Duggan, S.
Title: Problems with the Assessment of Performance in Practical Science: which way now?
Journal: Cambridge Journal of Education
Short Title: Problems with the Assessment of Performance in Practical Science: which way now?
Abstract: This paper presents an overview of the problems associated with the assessment of practical work in science. We identify two theoretical positions from which different emphases for teaching and assessment flow and examine some of the available evidence on possible methods of assessment which articulate with these two positions. We consider the position adopted by the UK National Curriculum in science and its response to the problem of reliability. We explore possible ways forward which maintain the integrity of investigative work within the curriculum. Finally, the notion that there might be a separate ability, namely an ability to do practical work, is addressed and its consequences considered.
Notes: This paper presents an overview of the problems associated with the assessment of practical work in science. We identify two theoretical positions from which different emphases for teaching and assessment flow and examine some of the available evidence on possible methods of assessment which articulate with these two positions. We consider the position adopted by the UK National Curriculum in science and its response to the problem of reliability. We explore possible ways forward which maintain the integrity of investigative work within the curriculum. Finally, the notion that there might be a separate ability, namely an ability to do practical work, is addressed and its consequences considered.
The first problem, subject of this paper, concerns the difficulties associated with summative assessment, whilst the second is to do with problems of progression.
The link between the two can be traced to the necessity for a clear definition as to what is to be taught under the heading Scientific Enquiry, since this will, in turn define how it is to be both assessed and structured.
It is clear that ‘Scientific Enquiry’ is an important element of science education. Ensuring that its assessment is as valid and reliable as possible is critical to its survival.
Position 1: One way to approach teaching and assessment of investigations is that typified by a performance model which restricts teaching and assessment methods to practical activity. ‘Performance’ is identified with ‘skills’, which include the ‘higher order skills’ of planning, measurement, observation and so on.
Position 2: it defines ‘skills’ differently and suggests that the understanding required to carry out investigative science effectively can be regarded as a body of knowledge in its own right. The model suggests that effective problem solving involves an interaction of conceptual and procedural understanding. Problem solving is a complex and demanding activity requiring pupils to be able to synthesise procedural and conceptual understanding.
Consequences for assessment:
Position 1: The performance is not assessed directly as this requires time consuming observation of pupil actions. There are early indications’ that older pupils, regardless of ability, were accurate in reporting how they did an experiment but noted that the evidence was ‘not substantial’ They found a low level of agreement on procedures between observed performance and notebooks for students who were inexperienced in report writing and they conclude that ‘this limits the utility of the notebook’.
An alternative solution is to tighten up the design of the assessment tasks in terms of their format, wording and structure in order to reduce variation and, hence, reduce the number of separate tasks needed before the aggregated score can be said to be reliable. It seems that if tightening up the presentation of a task by specifying design criteria may not have a significant effect on reliability for the hands-on, practical element of the tasks.
It is also clear that student performance is affected significantly by the computer interface. Students tend to collect huge amounts of data and then lose their way in it, in contrast to many practical tasks where time constraints limit the volume of data. Then there is no easy solution to the problem of reliable assessment if we are to focus exclusively on complete investigations.
Position 2: The practical assessment of the application and understanding of concepts of evidence means that pupils need to carry out parts of investigations, such as the design of an experiment or aspects of measurement.
The Assessment of Achievement Programme (AAP) in Scotland monitored pupils’ performance of both procedural and conceptual science in three age groups (8/9 years, 11/12 years and 13/14 years). One of their findings was that lower achieving children in all three age groups appeared to perform better on practical than written assessments.
Gray & Sharp (2001), following on from the AAP work, compared written and practical modes of assessment controlling as many variables as possible using closely comparable tasks and giving both modes of assessment to a sample of primary pupils (10/11 years old). Their results confirmed that performance was consistently better on practical than on written tasks. The differences between lower and higher achievers was not confirmed.
In summary, while Position 2 has allowed us to consider a wider variety of assessment methods than Position 1, our review has shown that there are many unanswered questions about the validity of alternative methods.
On the basis that no single assessment format is valid, we could argue that to be fair and to give students every opportunity to demonstrate their understanding we should use multiple assessment formats.
Student performance on practical investigative work may represent some combination of practical and creative facets of intelligence and that other modes of testing, such as written activities, may represent an analytical facet of intelligence.
The search for alternative methods of practical science assessment (whether of skills, concepts of evidence or whole investigations) continues to be unproductive.
(written by P. Lucas)
Reference Type: Edited Book
Record Number: 38
Editor: Gouvernement du Québéc, Ministère de l'éducation