03 SES 07 B, Curriculum & Inquiry Learning
Learning to do research relies on a combination of cognitive, meta-cognitive and affective learning strategies, which are all strategies that contribute to students’ learning outcomes (Donker, De Boer, Kostons, Dignath-Van Ewijk, & Van der Werff, 2014). Research and other metacognitive skills are also part of the so-called 21st Century Skills. On the one hand, those generic, cross-curricular skills are intended to help students acquire other, more subject-specific knowledge and skills. On the other hand, with those skills students are better equipped for their future career and for society(Ananiadou & Claro, 2009). Moreover, learning to do research in secondary education is a good preparation for research assignments in higher education.
Students who frequently engage in research activities enrich, expand, and consolidate their research skills (Kuhn & Pease, 2008). However, students in upper secondary education experience difficulties in doing research independently, e.g. to formulate a relevant research problem and research questions (cf. Stokking etal 2004). A more gradual approach to teach students to do research might improve students’ learning process and research projects (Metz, 2004).
Most literature is about single research activities, not much is known about an overarching research curriculum in secondary schools. The research activities described in literature usually refer to the domains of science, technology and mathematics (STEM). Other subjects and interdisciplinary research activities have received less attention.
To assist teachers and curriculum developers with a gradual approach to teach students to do research, it is necessary to know what kind of research activities are applicable in the different grades. However, an overview is lacking of students’ research activities in secondary school while learning to do research, of the characteristics of these activities and related research processes, and of students’ experiences with these activities, not only in STEM but in all secondary school subjects and in interdisciplinary research projects. With this review study about these topics we would like to close this knowledge gap.
Student research and learning to do research may vary in the amount of autonomy students have, ranging from Prescribed Research, in which the teachers direct and model the students’ research process, to Open Research, in which students fully determine the research process in accordance with guidelines and rules of the discipline and context (Willison & O’Regan, 2007).
In our study, research is defined in terms of the stages of the research cycle (e.g., Klahr, 2000; Spronken-Smith et al, 2013; Willison & O’Regan, 2007). This means that we define student research skills as skills necessary to be able to go through the research cycle. The stages of a student research cycle include a) Orientation, in which students find and select a topic and get introduced into the topic; b) Focusing, in which students develop and select research questions; c) Planning, in which students make a research plan and determine which kind of data to collect; d) Analysing & Concluding, in which students analyse the data and answer the research question; and e) Writing & Presenting, in which students report the research in a report or in an oral presentation. The latter stage includes an evaluation of the research process.
The purpose of this paper is to summarize and categorize students’ research activities in secondary schools. This review study aimed to answer four questions:
1) What are the characteristics of the different research activities (within subjects and interdisciplinary projects)?
2) How do students experience these research activities?
3) How are these activities and experiences related to grade?
4) How are these activities and experiences related to the subject domains in secondary education, such as languages, history, science, and so on?
Ananiadou, K., & Claro, M. (2009). 21ST Century skills and competences for new millennium learners in OECD countries. EDU Working paper no. 41. Paris: OECD. Donker, A. S., De Boer, H., Kostons, D., Dignath-Van Ewijk, C. C., & Werff, M. P. C. van der. (2014). Effectiveness of learning strategy instruction on academic performance: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 11, 1-26. Klahr, D. (2000). Exploring science: The cognition and development of discovery processes. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Lazonder, A. W. & Harmsen, R. (2016). Meta-analysis of inquiry-based learning: effects of guidance. Review of Educational Research, 86(3). 681-718. Metz, K.E. (2004). Children’s understanding of scientific inquiry: their conceptualization of uncertainty in investigations of their own design. Cognition and Instruction,22(2), 219-290. Spronken-Smith, R. A., Brodeur, J. J., Kajaks, T., Luck, M., Myatt, P., Verburgh, A., Walkington, H. and Wuetherick, B. (2013) Completing the research cycle: A framework for promoting dissemination of undergraduate research and inquiry. Teaching and Learning Inquiry. 1(2), pp. 105–18. Stokking, K., Schaaf, M. van der, Jaspers, J. & Erkens, G. (2004). Teachers’ assessment of students’research skills. Britisch Educational Research Journal, 30(1), 93-116 Willison, J. & O’Regan, K. (2007). Commonly known, commonly not known, totally unknown: a framework for students becoming researchers. Higher Education Research & Developent, 26(4), 393-409
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