Inquiry Based Science Education
Inquiry holds out huge promise for science education, to arrest the decline in student attitudes towards science and mathematics, and foster better scientific thinking. TEMI views inquiry as the route 1 for covering the ‘scientific inquiry’ strand in all European curricula. Schools are under ever increasing pressure to deliver higher standards. TEMI builds on the evidence that well structured inquiry does have a positive impact on achievement. We have combined best practices from around the globe, to solve the problems of how to make inquiry-based science education fit into existing curriculum time, and make it easier for both students and their teachers to learn.
To address the promise and challenge of inquiry, TEMI teachers’ training programme is founded strongly on research-based principles of teachers continuing professional development (CPD) and Inquiry based science education, and be adaptable to the needs of each participating country.Our CPD aims to embed 4 innovations in teachers’ practice:
- Create curiosity with Mysteries
- Teach concepts with the 5E learning cycle
- Teach skills with Gradual Release of Responsibility
- Maintain motivation with Showmanship
Create Curiosity With Mysteries
In science education, a mystery is a phenomenon or event or story, which provokes the perception of suspense and wonder in the learner. It initiates an emotionally laden “want to know”-feeling which leads to curiosity and which posing of questions – which are then answered by inquiry and problem-solving activities. TEMI Mysteries are designed to have specific feature to help students learn, and to help teachers address the curriculum:
- Provide affective engagement for the students
- Generate curiosity and leads to student questions
- Make knowledge and inquiry skills part of the answer to the mystery
- Covers a sufficient part of the nationally assessed curriculum
- Are surprising ‘discrepant event’, to change students’ existing ideas
TEMI CPD will show teachers how to use Mysteries to start off an inquiry and with the help of ‘Showmanship’ (see below) provide the on-going engagement to sustain students’ efforts in learning.
Teach Concepts With The 5e Inquiry Cycle
The 5E cycle is a structure to help teachers and students develop understanding of scientific concepts through inquiry. It breaks down the inquiry process into a set of 5 stages, with clear purposes and learning functions. ‘Engage’ gets students’ attention using the Mystery and leads them towards formulating the inquiry question. ‘Explore ‘is the process of answering the question, by planning experiments, collecting observations and data. ‘Explain’ is about making sense of the data, and drawing upon scientific ideas to answer the inquiry question. ‘Extend’ applies the conceptual understanding gained to solve another problem. Evaluate is about assessing students’ understanding and skills.
‘Our CPD programme’ will show teachers how to use each stage in the classroom, and get them to practise.
Teach Skills With Gradual Release Of Responsibility
TEMI uses the idea of ‘Gradual Release of Responsibility’ to teach skills. We have borrowed a well-respected model for teaching skills from other curriculum subjects, and applied it to science. Very simply, skills area taught in three stages:
- I do it
- We do it
- You do it
Essentially this is a view of teachers as the ‘master’ inducting their students, or ‘apprentices’ into an area of expertise. In other words, we see teachers acting as the expert inquirer leading their novice students by the hand, coaching them through realistic tasks of gradually increasing challenge, to develop the problem-solving and reasoning skills associated with scientific work. ‘Show’ is the first stage, where the teacher starts by modeling skills. ‘Guide and scaffold is next’, where the teacher helps students in their first attempts at simple tasks. The third stage of skill teaching is to allow students to be more independent and practise the skills within more complex tasks until they achieve competence.
Integrating the skills and content strands of the curriculum can be a big challenge for science teachers. Our CPD programme gives teachers a powerful, practical solution.
Maintain Motivation With Showmanship
Having captured students’ interest how will we keep it throughout the inquiry? Our answer is showmanship. Presentation techniques are not just for the theatre! Educational research confirms that material is better remembered when it presented dramatically. So TEMI is bringing performers in on the act to help teachers. Magicians, actors and other communicators intuitively understand the idea expressed in the literature of maintaining curiosity by opening up and satisfying ‘knowledge gaps’. Their job is to make the audience want to know something, which keeps them exploring and paying attention until they do. That is exactly the kind of skill a science teacher needs. If scientific knowledge can be embedded within the answer to provocative questions, lessons will be more engaging and meaningful. TEMI CPD will use performers like magicians to support teachers transform science lessons using a range of showmanship techniques.
The innovations in the TEMI programme are introduced in face-to-face workshops and then practised in school, with the support of our curriculum materials. The exact format differs by country, but the basic model is for two workshops:
Workshop 1 introduces the innovations of Mysteries and the 5E learning cycle
Workshop 2 introduces Gradual Release of Responsibility and Showmanship
In both workshops teachers spend a considerable time putting the ideas into action by designing a Mystery lesson.
What are expecting teachers to learn from the programme?
- To explore how the 5E inquiry learning cycle can be used as a vehicle to integrate the teaching of inquiry with scientific content
- To gain experience of tried-and-tested methods for teaching skills by gradually transferring responsibility to students
- To evaluate mystery-based curriculum resources which are used as invitations to inquiry, and which structure and support the lessons
- To consider how to use a variety of showmanship techniques through interaction with communications professionals
- To use cognitive strategies to increase students’ competence with inquiry skills for greater achievement in high stakes assessment