ERG SES G 13, Communities and Education
It is remarkably pointed out in the literature that “museums and schools need each other to create the coherent learning environment essential for initiating and sustaining engagement with science” (Bevan, 2007, p.3). Similarly, National Science Teachers Association (NSTA, 1998, p.30) stated that “informal science education complements, supplements, deepens, and enhances classroom science studies”. Although it is an efficacious strategy to integrate informal education into the teaching process, especially in science education, to improve classroom curriculum and formal education work (Duran, Ballone-Duran & Haney, 2010), school trips to science centers and museums are not organized in such a way to enhance learning (DeWitt & Osborne, 2007). This may be because of what Behrendt and Franklin (2014) claimed that preservice teachers are not educated in science teacher education programs about how to plan and organize a field trip. In Turkey, the number of teacher training institutions are ninety-two in sixty-eight different cities. In spite of the fact that each city has at least one museum, the number of science centers in cities is very low besides some of them are not fully equipped one (Tasdemir, Kartal, & Ozdemir, 2014). Tasdemir, Kartal and Ozdemir (2014) also claimed that only twenty percent of preservice teachers can directly profit from these science centers and this percentage is quite low compared to the number of education faculties. Thus, most of the preservice teachers graduated without being aware of the opportunities of science centers. Correspondingly, teachers do not know how to organize a successful trip to informal science settings and integrate their science teaching (Kisiel, 2003a; Tasdemir, Kartal, & Ozdemir, 2014). However, the importance given to informal learning environments such as science centers in our country is increasing day by day. In 2017, the out-of-school learning environments were highlighted in the adopted strategies and methods by the Ministry of National Education's science curriculum.
“Class / in-school and out-of-school learning environments are designed according to the inquiry-based learning strategy so that students can learn meaningfully and permanently. In this context, informal learning environments (school gardens, science centers, museums, planetarium, zoo etc.) are utilized” (MEB, 2017, pp. 11-12).
In addressing the above-mentioned issues, a professional development program was proposed to The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) as a project, derived from various literature about informal science learning, nature of science, self-efficacy and research into science centers, inquiry and cooperative learning. The aim of the BİLMER project is to raise teachers’, teacher candidates’ and science centers’ explainers’ awareness about science centers; improve their utilization from science centers in their lessons; and increase their efficacy in this area. Moreover, it is hypothesized that if the professional development (PD) program developed by BİLMER project is implemented to science teachers, it can potentially lead teachers to better use of the learning opportunities in the science centers to maximize the influence on the students’ learning. Consequently, the main aim of the current study is to reveal how the PD program developed by BİLMER project improve science teachers’ way of conducting field trip to a science center. More precisely, the researchers aim to answer the following question: “How is science teachers’ instractional planning including strategies for a field trip to a science center improved throughout PD program?”
The case study design was used in this study. Researchers purposefully selected three science teachers regarding their at least one-year experience in science teaching, interest in informal science learning, enthusiasm and willingness for the research and having never participated PD program about science centers before. Data were collected through interview, observation and instructional plan. Participants organized a field trip to one of the science centers in Ankara named ODTÜ Science Center (ODTÜ SC) before the PD program and they were observed during the visit. Then, they interviewed about what and why they did before, during and after visit. It is important to note that pre- and post-visit activities were not observed and all of them were reported by teachers during the interview sessions. After that, they participated in three-day PD program that 13 explainers from 7 different science centers in Turkey and 25 teachers from different schools and branches participated in. Throughout the PD program, participants experienced different activities (e.g., The Heart of Daphnia, Black Box, Climbing Cone) to learn about how to conduct an activity integrated to science center field trip effectively; different demonstrations (e.g., Teaching Sequence of Sound and Magdeburg Spheres) to learn about how science centers can be used as complementary environments to school curriculum; and visited two science centers in Ankara to learn more about their resources and field trip procedures. Moreover, example activities and suggestions for what teachers and science center explainers need to do before (e.g., For teachers; preparing lesson plan, worksheet, information brochure, using KWL chart, doing Observe-Inference activity, etc.), during (e.g, For teachers; group working, structured/unstructured activities, etc.), and after a trip (e.g, For teachers; poster, writing composition, drawing, completing KWL chart, tabletop versions of exhibits, etc.) were presented. After the PD program, they prepared an instructional plan for their second trip to ODTÜ SC based on their learning in the PD program and then organized their second trip. Again, they observed during visit and interviewed after the visit. A descriptive analysis approach was used. Kisiel’s (2003a) study was used as a main data source of analysis, since he revealed detailed description of teachers’ strategies used to enhance experience in a field trip. Since the only one teacher’s data has been analyzed so far and sharing the results of whole parts of visit needs more time and space, only her interview results about pre-visit will be revealed in the next section.
Before the PD program, Teacher A organized the first trip to ODTÜ SC. She had only made an appointment for trip. She did not question any details about what to do, nor did she ask for information about how the process will go on in the ODTÜ SC. So, her students participated in typical process of the science center. She just did some general preparation (e.g., getting necessary permission) for the trip but didn’t prepare any instructional plan. It was seen that the teacher used only two strategies in the first visit: site familiarization and general things to do. After PD program, it was identified that the teacher used six strategies in the second trip to ODTÜ SC: site, content and procedure familiarization, supervision coordination, other pre-visit activities, general things to do. This time, an instructional plan was prepared and it was determined that what was to be shown in the science center’s presentations and which exhibits were to be addressed during the trip. During appointment, she informed explainers that she wants to plan their trip regarding the electricity topic and demand them to send photographs and explanations of the exhibits related to electricity. She again did same general preparation (e.g. getting necessary permission) for the trip. Moreover, she distributed an “Information Form” to give students some idea of what will happen and what they will be doing on trip. To familiarize students with the field trip content, she utilized KWL chart before the visit. She also mentioned that she gave her students an assignment to be done during free time, and divided students into groups of four or five.
Behrendt, M. & Franklin, T. (2014). A review of research on school field trips and their value in education. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 9, 235-245. Bevan, B. (2007). When schools meet museums: Finding a third way. ASTC Dimensions, May/June, 1-24. DeWitt, J., & Osborne, J. (2007). Supporting teachers on science-focused school trips: Towards an integrated framework of theory and practice. International Journal of Science Education, 29(6), 685-710. Duran, E., Ballone-Duran, L., & Haney, J. (2010). Project ASTER III: A model for teacher professional development integrating science museum exhibits with state and national science education content standards. Curator, 53(4), 437-449. Kisiel, J. (2003a). Revealing teacher agendas: An examination of teacher motivations and strategies for conducting museum fieldtrips (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı (MEB) (2017). Fen bilimleri dersi öğretim programı (İlkokul ve Ortaokul 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ve 8. Sınıflar). Ankara. National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) (1998). An NSTA position statement: Informal science education. Journal of College Science Teaching, 28, 17-18. Taşdemir, A., Kartal, T., & Özdemir, A. M. (2013). Using science centers and museums in teacher training. The Asia Pacific Education Researcher, 127, 298-308.
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