Project II-7: The design of context-based education by biology teachers
|Researcher:||N. Wieringa, MSc (PhD candidate)|
|Supervisor:||Professor dr. J.H. van Driel|
|Co-supervisor:||Dr. F.J.J.M. Janssen|
There is an international trend in science education towards context-based approaches. If concepts are taught in relationship to real-world contexts, science education is expected to become more meaningful, relevant and motivating for students. In biology education in the Netherlands an innovation process towards context-based education is currently taking place. As in any innovation, the outcome will largely depend on the teachers implementing it. The focus of this study is on biology teachers designing context-based lessons for their own classroom practice. This is a challenging task for biology teachers. It is difficult to identify adequate contexts, connect these with central concepts, and allow students to draw the connections at the same time via stimulating questions and assignments. Core questions are: how do biology teachers, both experienced and inexperienced designers of context-based instruction, actually design context-based lessons when asked to do so? What are characteristics of the resulting lessons? What difficulties do biology teachers encounter when designing context-based lessons? What reasons do these teachers have for the design decisions they make? And what might be successful strategies for designing context-based lessons? The answers to these questions will be used to develop a professional development program to support biology teachers in the design of context-based lessons, using a domain-specific design model.
The project consists of two phases. Ten biology teachers were participating in the first phase, five of whom are experienced designers of context-based biology lessons. Participants were visited in their working environment and asked to design a context-based lesson for one of their own classes, while thinking aloud. This process was videotaped. Furthermore, the lesson itself was recorded and by means of interviews, design-related knowledge and beliefs were clarified. In the second phase, a professional development program will be developed, based upon the learning needs identified during the first phase, and using a domain-specific design model. The teachers will design, conduct and evaluate context-based lessons, using the domain-specific design model, during three successive cycles. The instruments developed during the first phase will be used to measure development of design-related knowledge and beliefs.