03 SES 03 A, Curriculum-Design at Levels
“The child comes to the traditional school with a healthy body and a more or less unwilling mind, though, in fact, he does not bring both his body and mind with him; he has to leave his mind behind, because there is no way to use it in the school”
(Dewey, 2013, p.50)
This Design Based Research project addresses the gap in upper secondary biology practical work, between the written enquiry-based biology curriculum and the enacted ‘recipe-style’ lessons that Irish students of biology currently experience. Abrahams and Reiss, in a large-scale national project in England recommend that practical work can be made more effective “if teachers adopted a more ‘hands-on’ and ‘minds-on’ approach and explicitly planned how students were to link these two essential components of practical work.” (2012, p.1035). Derived from the writing of Dewey (1997), the theoretical framework incepted here explicitly outlines how enquiry learning is tenable when mind and body are engaged in a ‘double act of thinking’, rather than being treated as separate entities.
Recipe teaching is underpinned by the view that knowledge is an end in itself, and simply necessitates bringing the mind into direct contact with facts and principles in order for the student to learn. This view of knowledge compounds the dualistic problem of mind as separate from body as we neglect to acknowledge that in order to learn, every end needs to be verified by bringing it back to personal experience and application of knowledge, which then become the basis for more observation and new ideas (Dewey, 1958). The continuity of experience means we must consciously grasp at knowledge that we do not yet own, by using principles learned as materials for new ideas and in so doing we reconnect the body with the mind through active consciousness. Dewey differentiates between knowledge that is had (ends-in-view) and knowledge that we seek (natural ends). Seeking knowledge is the crux of scientific enquiry. With recipe teaching we identify ends as ends-in-view, which cuts off natural ends from conscious life, nature from consciousness, body from mind. Nowhere is this more evident than in the practical classroom where students are engaged with manipulating objects but do not manipulate ideas. (Abrahams & Millar, 2008)
Following Dewey, genuine enquiry is an act of complete thinking involving both induction and deduction. It is a double movement towards inductively understanding a scientific principle, bridged by the inference of an hypothesis, and then deductively using the principle to develop, apply and test further ideas (Dewey, 1997). In Ireland, deduction is absent during practical work yet, “only deduction brings about and emphasises consecutive relationships,” so learning becomes more that a “miscellaneous scrap-bag” (ibid., p.97).
Freedom in thinking occurs when students are presented with “forked-road situations” where they not only make choices, but their choices involve inference - “a leap, going beyond what is surely known to something else accepted on its warrant” (ibid, p.27). The experiment is no longer an end-in-view, it becomes a vehicle with which to search for a natural end, leading to a connectedness and a continuity of experience within the body-mind. This is what distinguishes this theoretical framework from other enquiry frameworks (Bybee, 2014, Pedaste et al., 2015). Its specificity to advanced practical work at the upper secondary level, placing deductive application at its core, future-proofs this work at a time of curricular transition at upper senior cycle.
In what ways is it possible to design and implement a Framework for Enquiry that addresses the gap between the written enquiry-based curriculum and the enacted recipe-based curriculum in upper secondary biology practical work in Ireland?
This Design Based Research (DBR) project comprises one macrocycle of research divided into three meso-cycles (Mc Kenney & Reeves, 2018): 1. Needs and content analysis 2. Design and development of a working innovation 3. Summative evaluation At ECER 2019, the first meso-cycle, involving a review of the literature and a scoping investigation to identify the status of practical work at upper secondary biology level in Ireland, was presented. Here the design and development meso-cycle resulting in an ‘ontological innovation’ is presented. An ontological innovation has a dual role: acting as a lens to make sense of the design in an instructional setting and functioning as a guide for instructional design (Gravemeijer & Cobb, 2008). In this project both roles are fulfilled. The theoretical framework was developed as a lens through which a STEM artefact - the Framework for Enquiry - was designed, iteratively developed and put into practice in its target setting. Nieveen & Folmer’s (2013) Evaluation Matchboard was adapted to guide the research rigorously, relevantly and collaboratively through iterative cycles of design and development until an effective working prototype of the Framework was attained. Each design prototype of the artefact was trialled in two distinct settings: a pre-service teacher (PST) Biology Practical Teaching Module (BPTM) and in the upper secondary biology classroom with in-service teachers (ISTs). Prototype 1: The initial artefact, designed from a ‘hands-on / minds-on’ humble theory was developed following the needs and content analysis, and trialled with PSTs (n=27). ISTs had difficulty seeing its usability at this stage, resulting in only 1 IST lesson observation and one other IST lesson design. Prototype 2: The need for a solid theory to underpin the artefact was a key priority. This led to a redesign of the Framework for Enquiry which was iteratively trialled in 3 settings: an IST workshop (n=4), four IST walkthroughs (n=4) and the PST 12-week module (n=36) Prototype 3: The final prototype was trialled in the target setting (5 biology classrooms) with ISTs (n=2). Data in the form of artefacts, observations, questionnaires and interviews for each design and development cycle were collected. In the spirit of DBR and of ‘the complete act of thinking’ it was both inductively, qualitatively analysed using Template Analysis (King, 2012) and deductively, quantitatively analysed using Millar’s PAAI tool (2009) for effectiveness and my Structured Enquiry Observation Schedule, developed specifically for this research.
1. A theory of enquiry is interpreted from the work of Dewey specifically to address the gap in the biology curriculum that has led to the current mode of recipe teaching. It draws on the double movement of learning between inductive and deductive thinking which enables students and teachers to see learning as a dynamic, experimental process where knowledge means manipulating ideas as well as objects, in order to understand biology through enquiry by drawing on current and past experiences to create new learning experiences. The mind body dualism is replaced by a synergistic body-mind, focusing on consciousness rather than mindlessness, through a continuum of connected learning experiences. 2. The theory of enquiry developed here has led to the inception, design and development of a working prototype of a Framework for Enquiry. This framework is a radical change from the current mode of teaching practical work and is designed such that senior cycle experiments can be scaffolded by teachers through a double act of inductive diagnostic experimentation followed by deductive application of the experiment to new situations. The crux of the framework lies in the ‘leap’ that students make when moving from what they learn in the diagnostic experiment to applying it in the deductive experiment. In that leap lies the integration of the body with the mind, through consciousness. 3. Realignment of the written, enacted and experienced biology syllabus through the Framework for Enquiry 4. Van den Akker (2006) reports that a tertiary output of DBR is professional development of participants via a natural synergy between curriculum development and teacher development. Collaborative professional development around utilising the Framework for Enquiry became an essential part of the research and design process, to overcome the reticence of biology teachers to effect changes to their pedagogical practice by becoming curriculum makers.
Abrahams, I., & Millar, R. (2008). Does practical work really work? A study of the effectiveness of practical work as a teaching and learning method in school science. International Journal of Science Education, 30(14), 1945-1969. Abrahams, I., & Reiss, M. J. (2012). Practical work: Its effectiveness in primary and secondary schools in England. Journal of Research in Science teaching, 49(8), 1035-1055. Bybee, R. W. (2014). The BSCS 5E instructional model: Personal reflections and contemporary implications. Science and Children, 51(8), 10-13. Dewey, J. (2013). The school and society and the child and the curriculum. University of Chicago Press. Dewey, J. (1997). How we think. Courier Corporation. Dewey, J. (1958). Experience and nature (Vol. 471). Courier Corporation. Cobb, P., & Gravemeijer, K. (2008). Experimenting to support and understand learning processes. Handbook of design research methods in education: Innovations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning and teaching, 68-95. King, N. (2012). Doing template analysis. Qualitative organizational research: Core methods and current challenges, 426, 77-101. McKenney, S., & Reeves, T. C. (2018). Conducting educational design research. Routledge. Millar, R. (2009). Analysing practical activities to assess and improve effectiveness: The Practical Activity Analysis Inventory (PAAI). York: Centre for Innovation and Research in Science Education, University of York. Nieveen, N., & Folmer, E. (2013). Formative evaluation in educational design research. Design Research, 153, 152-169. Pedaste, M., Mäeots, M., Siiman, L. A., De Jong, T., Van Riesen, S. A., Kamp, E. T., ... & Tsourlidaki, E. (2015). Phases of inquiry-based learning: Definitions and the inquiry cycle. Educational research review, 14, 47-61. Van den Akker, J., Gravemeijer, K., McKenney, S., & Nieveen, N. (Eds.). (2006). Educational design research. Routledge
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