The Proof of the Pudding?: A Case Study of an “At-Risk” Design-Based Inquiry Science Curriculum
When students collaboratively design and build artifacts that require relevant understanding and application of science, many aspects of scientific literacy are developed. Design-based inquiry (DBI) is one such pedagogy that can serve these desired goals of science education well. Focusing on a Projectile Science curriculum previously found to be implemented with satisfactory fidelity, we investigate the many hidden challenges when using DBI with Grade 8 students from one school in Singapore. A case study method was used to analyze video recordings of DBI lessons conducted over 10 weeks, project presentations, and interviews to ascertain the opportunities for developing scientific literacy among participants. One critical factor that hindered learning was task selection by teachers, which emphasized generic scientific process skills over more important cognitive and epistemic learning goals. Teachers and students were also jointly engaged in forms of inquiry that underscored artifact completion over deeper conceptual and epistemic understanding of science. Our research surfaced two other confounding factors that undermined the curriculum; unanticipated teacher effects and the underestimation of the complexity of DBI and of inquiry science in general. Thus, even though motivated or experienced teachers can implement an inquiry science curriculum with good fidelity and enjoy school-wide support, these by themselves will not guarantee deep learning of scientific literacy in DBI. Recommendations are made for navigating the hands- and minds-on aspects of learning science that is an asset as well as inherent danger during DBI teaching.
KeywordsDesign-based inquiry Curriculum innovation Scientific literacy
This research was funded by project number OER 14/08 LYJ from the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. We also gratefully thank Rubina Pasha and Md. Abdus Sattar for assisting in the data collection.
- Ball, D. (1992). Magical hopes: manipulatives and the reform of math education. American Educator, 16(2), 14–18. 46–47.Google Scholar
- Barron, B., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2008). How can we teach for meaningful learning. In L. Darling-Hammond et al. (Eds.), Powerful learning: what we know about teaching for understanding (pp. 11–70). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.Google Scholar
- Barron, B. J. S., Schwartz, D. L., Vye, N. J., Moore, A., Petrosino, A., Zech, L., et al. (1998). Doing with understanding: lessons from research on problem and project based learning. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 7(3/4), 271–311.Google Scholar
- Bencze, J. L., & Alsop, S. (2009). A critical and creative inquiry into school science inquiry. In W.-M. Roth & K. Tobin (Eds.), The world of science education: North America (pp. 27–47). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
- Bennett, J., Lubben, F., Hogarth, S., & Campbell, B. (2004). A systematic review of the use of small-group discussions in science teaching with students aged 11–18, and their effects on students’ understanding in science or attitude to science. In Research evidence in education library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.Google Scholar
- Cole, M., & Distributed Literacy Consortium. (2006). The fifth dimension: an after-school program built on diversity. New York: The Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- Dewey, J. (1913). Interest and effort in education. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
- Donovan, M. S., & Bransford, J. D. (2005). How students learn: history, mathematics and science in the classroom. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Duschl, R. A., Schweingruber, H. A., & Shouse, A. W. (2007). Taking science to school: learning and teaching science in grades K-8. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Katehi, L., Pearson, G., & Feder, M. (2009). Engineering in K-12 education: understanding the status and improving the prospects. Washington, DC: NAP Press.Google Scholar
- Kolodner, J. L. (2002). Facilitating the learning of design practices: lessons learned from an inquiry into science education. Retrieved 20th November, 2011, from http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JITE/v39n3/kolodner.html.
- Kolodner, J. L., Camp, P. J., Crismond, D., Fasse, B., Gray, J., Holbrook, J., et al. (2003). Problem-based learning meets case-based reasoning in the middle-school science classroom: putting learning by design™ into practice. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 12(4), 495–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Layton, D. (1993). Technology’s challenge to science education: cathedral, quarry or company store? Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
- Lee, Y. J. (2008). Thriving in-between the cracks: Deleuze and guerrilla science teaching in Singapore. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 3, 917–935.Google Scholar
- Lee, Y. J., & Chue, S. (2011). The value of fidelity of implementation criteria to evaluate school-based science curriculum innovations. International Journal of Science Education. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2011.609189.
- Lehrer, R., & Schauble, L. (2006). Cultivating model-based reasoning in science education. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 371–388). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Leontjew, A. N. (1982). Tätigkeit, Bewusstsein, Persönlichkeit [Activity, awareness, personality]. Köln: Studien zur Kritischen Psychologie.Google Scholar
- Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: an expanded sourcebook. California: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Mina, M., Omidvar, I., & Knott, K. (2003). Learning to think critically to solve engineering problems: revisiting John Dewey’s ideas for evaluating engineering education. http://class.ece.iastate.edu/mmina/2003-1396_Final.pdf
- Petrosino, A. J. (1998). At-risk children’s use of reflection and revision in hands-on experimental activities. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.Google Scholar
- Poon, C. L., Lee, Y. J., Tan, A. L., & Lim, S. S. L. (2012). Knowing inquiry as practice and theory: Developing a pedagogical framework with elementary school teachers. Research in Science Education, 42, 303–327.Google Scholar
- Roberts, D. A. (2007). Scientific literacy/science literacy. In S. K. Abell & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (pp. 729–780). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: design and methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar