22 SES 11 B, Paper Session
Problem statement and relevance
University entrants studying educational science start their bachelor’s program with pre-conceptions. That is, they carry pre-academic notions and everyday experiences regarding their subject of study. To a first-semester student, such pre-conceptions can be hindering if they operate as misconception, interfering with learning processes or compromising knowledge acquisition. At the same time, lecturers are only limitedly aware of their students’ pre-conceptions.
According to a constructivist understanding of learning and an adaptive differentiated instruction in higher education, it is essential that lecturers are aware of student’s pre-conceptions (cf. Kroeber, 2010). Specially for university courses aiming at propaedeutics of science, lecturers should be concerned about university entrants’ initial epistemological understanding. This enables lecturers to transform hindering pre-conceptions of their students and to appropriately take up their prior knowledge in order to improve the didactical quality of instruction.
Objective and research questions
The aim of our study is the didactical reconstruction of educational science in academic teaching and research. We focus on university entrants’ pre-conceptions of educational science, that is «education» and «science», respectively. These pre-conceptions manifest themselves inter alia in students’ propaedeutic term papers, especially when choosing a topic and formulating a scientific question.
In our study, we attempt to answer two research questions:
- (RQ1) Which topics related to educational science do students address in their propaedeutic term papers (content-oriented pre-conceptions)?
- (RQ2) Which types of scientific questions do students formulate in their propaedeutic term papers (form-oriented pre-conceptions)?
The theoretical framework of our study is built on three pillars: educational science as field of academic research and teaching, scientific work as part of academic teaching, didactical reconstruction as model for research and development in teaching.
Educational science perceives itself as a social science enquiring knowledge of and insight in educational reality. It is a system consisting of different scientific theories and technologies about phenomenons or classes of phenomenons, which may be subsumed under the term «education». Within the academic research community, many educational research fields have emerged over the years, for example didactics/learning and teaching, teacher education, inclusive education, intercultural education, vocational education and training, histories of education, sociologies of education (e.g. DGfE Sections, EARLI Special Interest Groups, EERA Networks).
Within the process of scientific work, several early steps are challenging for students: choosing, narrowing and structuring the topic as well as formulating an appropriate scientific question (cf. Börrnert, 2006; Fromm & Paschelke, 2017; Obermaier, 2017; Wytrzens et al., 2014). Scientific questions are placed in a discovery context (What ist the state of research?), in a justification context (What methods shall be used?) and in an exploitation context (What is the contribution to science?) (cf. Wytrzens et al., 2014). Five types of scholarly research questions are distinguished (cf. Karmasin & Ribing, 2007; Wytrzens et al., 2014): (1) descriptions, (2) explanation, (3) design, (4) criticism/evaluation and (5) prognosis. Thus, the students’ scientific questions are considered an indicator for their underlying pre-conceptions of (educational) science.
The model of the didactic reconstruction (cf. Kattmann et al., 1997; Reinfried et al., 2009) is based on the constructivist postulate of the importance of taking up and building on prior knowledge in order to convey subjects and make them intelligible. Thereby, both academic and everyday knowledge are taken into account. Instruction is not aiming on the replacement of students’ misconceptions, but on the detection, correction and expansion of novices’ pre-conceptions towards experts’ post-conceptions.
Didactic design As part of the bachelors’ program in educational science, the Institute of Education at the University of Zurich offers a mandatory course called «Introduction to scientific practice» («Einführung in wissenschaftliches Arbeiten»). The course is designed as a seminar in parallel groups of about 25 students with different lecturers implementing the course curriculum. As main part of their assessment, students must submit a 6-page term paper covering a topic they consider relevant for educational science. Initiating the work on their term paper at the beginning of the semester, students are asked to hand in a paper outline containing their tentative topic and scientific question. Data collection and data analysis The sample consists of N = 200 term paper outlines submitted in autumn term of 2019. The scientific questions in the outlines are mostly single sentences. The students’ scientific questions in the term paper outlines were analyzed on two levels. On the content-related level (see RQ1), keywords were excerpted from the scientific questions and clustered into research fields. The content-related category system consists of 20 categories. It was deductively derived from the research sections of the German Association of educational science (cf. DGfE, 2020). These are considered to reflect the most renowned research fields (cf. Obermaier, 2017). On the formal level (see RQ2), the students’ scientific questions were deductively assigned to a type of scholarly research question (cf. Wytrzens et al., 2014). The formal-related category system consists of 5 main categories and 10 subcategories. The coding is illustrated by the following example: «How does ADHD manifest itself at primary school age?»; keywords: ADHD, primary school; clusters: special education; question type: description with empirical focus. Finally, the content-related and form-related categories were examined by descriptive statistics using frequency analysis.
As data analyses of our study are not finished yet, we describe expected results. Frequencies of educational topics (RQ1) and questions types (RQ2) are presented and interpreted. Answering RQ1 will show which topics were chosen by the students and how often they occurred. On the one hand, the results will reveal the topics students find interesting and consider as relevant for educational science. On the other hand, the results will indicate topics that are relevant to the research community but were not or only seldomly referred to by the students. Answering RQ2 will show, which types of scholarly research question the students formulated and how often each type occurred. The findings of our study will reveal inter-individual, structural pre-conceptions of novices in the domain of educational science. This will provide insights into students’ epistemological understanding of educational science. The students’ pre-conceptions may be contrasted with post-conceptions dominating in educational research carried out by experts in the different research fields. If notable discrepancies are thereby detected, these discrepancies should be considered relevant for scholarship of higher education. Especially for the purpose of propaedeutics of science, which aims to detect the mismatch between pre-academic notions and academic learning goals, shifting university entrants’ pre-conceptions towards expert knowledge is crucial.
Börrnert, R. (2006). Erziehungs-Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten im Studium. Münster: Waxmann. [Educational scientific working at university]. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Erziehungswissenschaft (DGfE) (2020). https://www.dgfe.de/ [21.01.2021]. Fromm, M., & Paschelke, S. (2017). Wissenschaftliches Denken und Arbeiten: Eine Einführung und Anleitung für pädagogische Studiengänge (2., aktualisierte Auflage). Münster: Waxmann. [Scientific thinking and working: An introduction and guide for study programs in pedagogy (2nd, updated edition). Karmasin, M., & Ribing, R. (2007). Die Gestaltung wissenschaftlicher Arbeiten. Wien: WUV. [The design of scientific work]. Kattmann, U., Duit, R., Gropengießer, H., & Komorek, M. (1997). Das Modell der Didaktischen Rekonstruktion. Zeitschrift für Didaktik der Naturwissenschaften, 3(3), 3-18. [The model of didactic reconstruction. Journal for the didactics of the natural sciences]. Kröber, E. (2010). Wirksamkeit hochschuldidaktischer Weiterbildung am Beispiel der Veränderung von Lehrkonzeptionen: Eine Evaluationsstudie. Unveröffentlichte Dissertation. Dortmund: TU Dortmund. [Efficacy of further training in higher education didactics, using the example of the chance of learning concepts. An evaluation study. Unpublished dissertation]. Obermaier, M. (2017). Arbeitstechniken Erziehungswissenschaft. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh. [work techniques educational science]. Reinfried, S., Mathis, C., Kattmann, U. (2009). Das Modell der Didaktischen Rekonstruktion. Eine innovative Methode zur fachdidaktischen Erforschung und Entwicklung von Unterricht. Beiträge zur Lehrerinnen- und Lehrerbildung, 27(3), 404-414. [The model of didactic reconstruction. An innovative method in teaching methodology for the research and development of instruction. Contributions to Teacher Training]. Wytrzens, H. K., Schauppenlehner-Kloyber, E., Sieghardt, M., & Gratzer, G. (2014). Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten: Eine Einführung. Wien: Facultas Verlags-und Buchhandels AG. [Scientific Work: An introduction].
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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