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Promoting inquiry skills in Curriculum for Excellence in Science: conceptualising inquiry to improve practice

Smith, Colin and Blake, Allan and Kelly, Fearghal and Gray, Peter and Mcnally, James (2011) Promoting inquiry skills in Curriculum for Excellence in Science: conceptualising inquiry to improve practice. In: ESERA 2011, 2011-09-05 - 2011-09-09.

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Abstract

This paper describes a Scottish initiative (arising out of a EU funded development project) involving university researchers, a local authority curriculum development officer and a group of teachers interested in developing more inquiry based approaches in science education. The project is not one in which the researchers bring prescriptions from research. Rather, it is seen as a joint effort aimed at solving practitioners' conceptual and practice issues. The overall question for the teachers was, How do I (we) make our practice more inquiry based? The question for the researchers was, How do we help you (the interested science teachers) to make your practice more inquiry based? This has two sub-questions: How do we help you to conceptualise the issues? How do we help you to solve the practice problems? As it turned out, the particular group of teachers we worked with did not ask for help with practice issues, so we have not made much progress in answering the second question. Therefore, this paper will focus on the first. We seem to have been successful in helping the teachers to acquire some useful conceptual tools for thinking about and changing their practice in ways that they valued for themselves. Perhaps the answer to the second question is that researchers can help teachers to solve their practice problems by helping them to conceptualise the issues.