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Promoting Inquiry in Science Classrooms in European Schools : a Handbook for Tutors

Smith, Colin and Blake, Allan and Kelly, Fearghal and Gray, Peter and Mcnally, James (2011) Promoting Inquiry in Science Classrooms in European Schools : a Handbook for Tutors. University of Strathclyde.

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In Scotland, PISCES stands for Promoting Inquiry Skills for a Curriculum for Excellence in Science. It is a CPD module for teachers of science, which has been developed in Scotland with the support of the S-TEAM project. However, this Handbook uses our international acronym in which PISCES stands for Promoting Inquiry in Science Classrooms in European Schools . It is, we believe, potentially equally as successful across Europe as it was designed around the idea of empowering teachers to think for themselves how to make their practice more-inquiry based, wherever they are. It is recognised that some school, social, policy and cultural environments may be more supportive of the idea of ‘more inquiry-based practice’ than others. PISCES empowers teachers to make small or large changes to their practice, according to those sorts of contextual factors, their own aims and how they perceive the needs of their pupils. You will note that we have been careful to use the word ‘more’ in ‘more inquiry-based.’ As befits the idea of empowerment to adapt to one’s own context, there is no single model of inquiry being ‘pushed’ here. Indeed, we count it as a measure of success of PISCES that the teachers who have participated did very different things in making their practice more inquiry-based. Strathclyde University is a leading partner in S-TEAM. Members of Strathclyde University, along with the Development Officer for Curriculum for Excellence for East Lothian, successfully developed and delivered a pilot version of PISCES as a module to a group of East Lothian teachers, in 2010/11. The module resulted in successful ‘experiments in practice’ and increased awareness of the benefits of inquiry-based teaching and learning. The same group of teachers have also taken part in a follow-up course (ARIES: Advanced Resources for Inquiry and Evaluation in Science). PISCES is a high quality CPD programme, valued by teachers and supportive of their professional self-development. It can be applied to both primary and secondary teaching, in all science subjects. Pupils benefit from learning experiences, which develop scientific inquiry skills. Feedback from participating teachers has been consistently positive.