WP 6c & 6d: dialogic inquiry in science classrooms
Work packages 6c and 6d constitute two complementary parts of an overall product designed to encourage and support teachers in engaging students in dialogic inquiry in science classrooms.
The concept of 'dialogic inquiry' follows from research work into characterizing the talk of science classrooms and, in particular, making the distinction between authoritative talk, where the focus is on the scientific point of view, and dialogic talk where the classroom interactions are open to all points of view, with those of the students made prominent (see: Mortimer and Scott, 2003). The approach taken in these work packages is that in learning science, both authoritative and dialogic approaches are essential as teaching and learning progress, at times closing in on the accepted science point of view, at other times opening up for debate and discussion (see: Scott et al, 2006).
This is in contrast to much existing science teaching which follows a strictly transmissive, authoritative route, excluding the student's voice As such we see close links between this work on dialogic inquiry and inquiry-based science teaching and learning (IBSTAL), with the key common purpose of engaging students in real dialogue and thinking about science content and other scientific issues. Furthermore, we see this kind of engagement as being of fundamental importance in motivating students to take a personal interest, and to participate, in science. The team working on this theme of dialogic inquiry has been instrumental in developing the basic ideas involved in the field and as such is ideally placed to take a lead. For example: Scott and Ametller (2006) have recently completed a UK Research Council (ESRC) project on Dialogic Teaching; Enghag's (2007) dissertation about Student Ownership of Learning, addresses student empowerment and motivation and how student ideas as the driving force in classroom discourse challenge traditional teaching (see: Enghag and Niedderer, 2007) ; Sund's (2008) dissertation concerns socializing content for Education for Sustainable Development; Viiri and his colleagues have developed various dialogic teaching sequences, e.g. Savinainen et al. (2005), and they have experience in training student teachers in dialogic teaching approaches (Viiri & Saari, 2006).
Work package 6c will involve collaborative work between science teachers in primary and secondary schools and university-based science educators. The focus of this collaboration will be on jointly developing four short teaching sequences (6/7 hours duration) aimed at lower secondary/primary school which are based on the principles of dialogic inquiry and which are well tuned to the demands of real classrooms. The sequences can either be used as complete entities, or specific 'dialogic activities' can be taken from them to be integrated with schools' existing teaching schemes. Through this work two significant outcomes are anticipated. Firstly, the participating teachers will be exposed to the thinking and practices of dialogic inquiry, thereby widening their teaching repertoires. Secondly, four dialogic inquiry teaching sequences (and the constituent 'dialogic activities') will be developed and trialed. It is anticipated that these sequences will be based in the physical sciences and the field of sustainable development (see WP 6d below). The process of trialing and review of the sequences will be a key part of their development: a 'one-shot' curriculum development approach will not be taken. The project team already has some experience in developing 'effective practice' teaching sequences, with evidence of a positive impact on student learning and a positive response from teachers (Leach et al, 2006).
Work package 6d will complement the activity of WP 6c by developing workshop materials and activities focusing on the general theme of dialogic inquiry and how this might appear in the science classroom. The materials and activities will be designed for use in a range of contexts: initial teacher training; school-based teacher development; wider teacher development events. They will include simple tools for analysing classroom talk (see Mortimer and Scott, 2003) with the aim of getting teachers to a point where they can reflect on their own teaching practices and see how these might be refined to include more dialogic interaction with students. The team has significant experience of working with teachers on dialogic inquiry in both pre-service and in-service training contexts. For example, pilot work on dialogic inquiry in the context of pre-service training in Finland has been carried out. This has involved a specific teaching programme about classroom interaction and teacher's talk as an integrated section in the normal curriculum of science teacher training (Lehesvuori et al, in press). A novel feature of the WP 6d work is that some of the materials will focus on supporting teachers in opening up issues relating to aspects of sustainable development such as economic use of fuels, recycling, technical energy systems and climate change. Teacher education at Mälardalen University includes courses in education for sustainable development. The educational approach itself needs to be changed to offer students of all ages better opportunities to critically discern the surrounding world in a more fruitful way, according to their own interests, and in all school subjects (Sund & Wickman, 2008). It is not difficult to see how dialogic inquiry approaches, focusing on the student voice and other perspectives, will be key to working in this field.
Dissemination WP6c and 6d The teachers involved in the work of 6c will be exposed to the materials developed in 6d as part of their activity in developing teaching sequences. Conversely, the teaching sequences developed through 6c will be referred to as exemplary materials in working through the workshop materials developed in WP 6d. Video and powerpoint materials presented on a DVD platform will be used to capture and exemplify key aspects of the ways in which teachers launch and sustain dialogic inquiry in the science classroom. Dissemination activities will take place in England, Finland and Sweden in the first instance (products 6.5 and 6.6)
New description added 30/06/09
Work package 6c will involve collaborative work between science teachers in
In the same way that participation and inquiry has become important in education in general, we think that this also is the situation for teacher education and teachers professional development (PD). A way to include teachers a participators and owner of their PD, is to ask for best-practice experiences, and with this as starting-point together develop teaching further with input from research based ideas and results. At MDU we have intended to reach teams of teachers at school that are willing to work together with us, by presenting some of our ideas in seminaries, that are arranged in cooperation with our regional developing centres.
Figure 1: MDU Training Module for each teacher team with the duration of one semester (4 month)
The Resource- sheets. To make teacher to reflect and write down best-practice to build on for PD activities, we use resource-sheets. Resource-sheets is one way to teacher empowerment, to get credibility for best-practice activities already developed, and the activity to reflect upon what, why and how, give a new dimension that often cause changes in reasoning to take place. Sharing this in group can end up in a Learning study, evaluating the activity in different classes.
For S-TEAM Mälardalen University