St Mary’s College

EARLI Conference Nicosia 2005

SIG Invited symposia

SIG 11 Teaching and Teacher Education: ‘Demonstrating accountability through our self-study practices as teacher educators’.

How do I improve my practice as a lecturer working with a group of trainee primary teachers to developing their science subject knowledge using a virtual learning environment (vle)?

Jim Moreland

Lecturer in Primary Science

School of Education

ST Mary’s College

Waldegrave Road

Twickenham

TW1 4sx

E-mail: morelanj@smuc.ac.uk

 

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How do I improve my practice as a lecturer working with a group of trainee primary teachers to developing their science subject knowledge using a virtual learning environment (vle)?

Introduction

This paper is an expression of my thoughts as I attempt to give an answer to the question above. I have engaged in a process of reflection, planning and action in order to improve my practice. I have chosen a form of enquiry that Whitehead described in 1989, that is ‘How do I improve my practice?’ to gain an understanding of my practice. A propositional enquiry into the students’ use of a virtual learning environment could play only a small part in my understanding of practice. The paper is structured into seven sections that focus on my practice as a lecturer. Actions taken are described and evidence of how those actions were received is provided.

What ‘practice’ am I trying to improve?

My practice as a lecturer and tutor in a higher education college requires that I ‘teach science’ to groups of trainee primary teachers enrolled on a BA ITT Primary Education Degree at St Mary’s College Twickenham. I use the phrase ‘teach science’ as this is how I often would describe my role and is what I believe the students expect me to do – ‘teach them science’. When I took up post in 1999 there was a prescriptive curriculum ‘Initial teacher training National Curriculum for Primary Science’, in which detailed science content could be found. The introduction of subject specific professional knowledge in ITT courses by the government in 1998 was to address a range of issues including the standard of subject knowledge of newly qualified teachers. Baker and Millar (1997) report a concern that entrants into primary teacher education do not have successful science backgrounds. Annex E of the DfEE Circular 4/98 (along with other sections of the circular) had considerable influence on programme design at St Mary’s College, as it has with many other higher education institutions. 4/98 was subsequently developed into a handbook of guidance ‘Qualify to Teach’ in 2002. Although the content was less prescriptive in terms of subject knowledge, there was still an emphasis on trainees developing subject knowledge.

Students at St Mary’s register for compulsory and optional modules on the BA ITT Primary Programme. They choose to specialise in specific areas with a view to becoming subject specialists when they achieve qualified teacher status (QTS). Each module consists of between ten and twenty sessions depending on the credit value of the module. Science sessions include a variety of practical activities that are intended to give students the opportunity to learn science concepts and develop an understanding of how science may be taught and learnt. Students value the approach used in sessions: evaluations support the use of practical activities to aid the learning of science. The use of these practical activities has in part been informed by my understanding of ‘constructivism’ as a learning theory. Constructivism is considered by Ollerenshaw and Ritchie (1993) as a ‘perception of the way learning takes place’. Constructivism is a learning theory widely accepted by the science education community. As Bennett (2003) comments, there is considerable research evidence to support the notion that children construct their own explanations for scientific phenomena and that these differ from the established explanation. Within higher education, Shallcross, Spink, Stephenson and Warwick (2002) highlight that many students and indeed a proportion of primary teachers hold scientific ideas, which are closer to those of children than scientists. Trainee teachers are not only required to learn science, but also develop an understanding of how children learn science. Secure subject knowledge is needed to implement effective constructivist teaching (Porter, Hall and Harwood 2003). Harlen (1996) suggests the teacher has a pivotal role in the success of teaching and learning especially when a constructivist approach to learning is used. As a learning theory, constructivism is central to the part I play in my position as teacher/lecturer.

What has shaped my practice?

As a former practising teacher and now as a lecturer I have always held constructivism as a learning theory that makes sense. It informed my approach as a teacher; Millar (1989) believes that there can be little doubt that science education research (into alternative conceptions) has been put into contact with ‘teachers’ realities’. This learning theory influences my teaching of science and how I believe students should learn how to teach science. Fox (1983) provides a range of descriptors that may be applied to teaching. Phrases such as ‘imparting principles’, ‘conveying knowledge’ or ‘putting over’ are loaded with meaning. As a constructivist, I avoid any suggestion that understanding can be given, that knowledge is a package, or as Adey (1998), explains, knowledge is not like water, ‘it can not be poured from one place to another’, or that the learner is an empty vessel ready to receive knowledge. The theories that Fox uses to characterize teaching have a resonance with what I believed I should be doing and how I believed I was doing it. Aspects of his ‘travelling’ theory fit with notions of students making a journey, one which I had made before and could therefore give guidance when they encountered difficulty. I also believed that I placed the student at the heart of this journey and that the student had a central part to play, as Fox (1983) explains this, a growing theory, one in which the student is encouraged to grow, rather than to be directed on some predetermined path.

My understanding of constructivism has developed from various in-service courses and reflection on my practice. I have placed an emphasis on the learner being active; I design activities that I believe require the learner to engage with the concept and that sessions are not to provide knowledge. These are claims I have made during my career with little or no evidence to support them. I may be making claims that are at best invalid and at worst undesirable! What if constructivism the learning theory does not translate into constructivism the teaching theory? Elements of constructivist theory have caused considerable debate. Millar (1989) suggests that constructivism has incorrectly become associated with a particular model of teaching. Watts and Bentley (1991) further clarify the debate by suggesting that although constructivism has ‘kudos’ with pedagogy there is a need to close the gap between a strong theoretical version and a weak version of theory-in-practice. I may be practising a weak version of a theory-in-practice that may be mis-guided. Although I design a module or an activity using a ‘constructivist’s eye’, Watts and Jofili (1998) question how is it possible for the teacher to ‘construct’ knowledge for the learner. Watts and Jofili (1998) support this comment, citing Millar (1989), who argues that there are no classroom techniques exclusive to constructivism and Matthews (1994), who critiques constructivism at a deep-seated level, concluding that epistemological and ontological positions have been supported by weak argument.

How do I improve my practice?

As stated earlier I use evaluation forms to consider how I may change and develop the modules I am responsible for with the BA ITT programme. It is a matter of professional practice that the process takes place. A teacher or lecturer must reflect on his/her practice. This is, I believe, an established expectation within this or any other institution. The method used is open to individual or institutional preference. This year I have had the opportunity to use action research as part of the method employed to reflect and improve my practice.

Action research is a research form that is carried out by practitioners (Kemmis 1993, Bassey 1990) and has the fundamental aim of improving practice (Elliott 1991). Hitchcock and Hughes (1989) refer to research as systematic inquiry. Powney and Watts (1987) include the word ‘critical’ in their definition of educational research. It was my intention to be both critical and systematic, and as McNiff and Whitehead (in preparation) point out, as a practitioner your main aim is to improve practice, as a researcher your main aim is to generate ideas, but as a practitioner-researcher your aim is to show how you are connecting theory and your practice to improve your practice. The relationship between research and teaching (as practice) is explained in terms of the new scholarship by Boyer (1990). He asserts that knowledge is not developed in a linear fashion, that although theory may inform practice, practice may also inform theory. This is developed further by Schön (1995), who argues that if teaching is to be considered as scholarship, the knowledge produced must be testable and valid according to criteria of appropriate rigor. Although I believe that I have developed theories of practice during this year, I feel that I am yet to reach the position where I may claim that the theories are testable and valid according to rigorous criteria. I have yet to understand what could count as rigorous criteria, and the development of this understanding will provide a new focus in my future research.

As a lecturer researching my practice, I have engaged in a process to develop theories of how I have worked this year and how I believe I should continue to develop my practice in the future. Kemmis (1993) places practice as the object of action research. McNiff and Whitehead (in preparation) assert that research traditions differ in terms of the ontological and social positioning of the researcher. Bassey (1990) suggests three traditionally defined research groupings, the positivists, the interpretivists and the action researchers. The ontological commitments of the first two would place the researcher on the outside looking in; however the third group, in terms of their inclusive and relational ontological commitments, could be considered as actors taking part in the research (Bassey 1990). McNiff and Whitehead (in preparation) argue that positivist forms of research are notionally value free; the researcher must stay outside to prevent contamination, whereas the action researcher accepts that his/her research is value laden and that the object of his/her research is his/her practice. As a teacher/lecturer I am in a position where my practice can be researched by myself, in order to improve my practice.

This approach has had its share of criticism. Hammersley (1993) considers the integration of teaching and research as detrimental to both. Tooley and Darby (1998), within an Ofsted critique of educational research, comment on the belief that teachers given research opportunities will not necessarily improve the quality or relevance of research. The evidence they cite (and acknowledge) was only a sub-sample and therefore no generalised comments can be made. It does however act as reminder of Schön’s point, if teaching is to be considered as scholarship, knowledge must be provided that is testable and valid according to criteria of appropriate rigor. Monk and Osborne (2000) argue for a more traditional approach to science education research, one in which intellectual endeavour and focused study will result in a better understanding of the predicaments faced by teacher and learner. Their text is intended to show that research can inform the practice of science teaching and the dissemination of findings to a wide group of professionals. I do not disagree with their stance; they are acknowledged experts in the field, a field that has informed my understanding of science education. I do agree that teachers are busy professionals and research does require an understanding of the methodology, but I do not believe that this puts research out of the reach of the practitioner. My intention as a higher education lecturer is to develop my understanding of the issues by researching my own understanding and my practice, in order to learn how to encourage student teacher to regard themselves as researchers who can and should generate their own theories of practice.

White (1998) notes that teachers do not reject research, they ignore it. The Evidence-based Practice in Science Education (EPSE) research network including the Universities of Leeds, Southampton, York and Kings College London have published a series of articles relating to the interface between research and practice. The aim of the network is to understand how education professionals recognise and use educational research in their practice (Ratcliffe et al 2004). One finding in particular stood out: research is implicit at the point of use. Research is a ‘background influence’ found in materials that sway practice. My practice has been informed by the various in-service courses attended and the reflections I have made on the success or otherwise of my actions. Waters-Adams and Nias (2003) help me to understand this idea in their discussion of the dialectical nature of theory influencing practice. They continue with the view that there is an interchange between actions and ideas or theories when teaching and that actions and theories may be in agreement or contradiction. Waters-Adams and Nias develop this position from Whitehead’s (1989) idea that practice is driven by practitioners’ values. My values inform my planning of sessions. I believe students learn science within a constructivist environment and my practice promotes this environment. This is however a bold statement with little evidence to support its inclusion within this paper. What is my understanding of constructivism? Why do I believe that I have provided a constructivist learning environment? It is these questions that have shaped my thoughts and reflections during this academic year, and that inspire my research. If I can begin to reflect on these questions then I believe that I have been engaged in action research. Research that will inform my practice, research that will help me to understand my practice and research that will improve my practice. My practice has been influenced by a particular learning theory that I have never really critiqued. Acceptance of literature and informal reflection of practice have allowed the synthesis of theory and practice that has controlled my day to day actions as a teacher and lecturer. In order to improve my practice I needed to engage in a process that allowed both the questioning of my beliefs on science learning and how I translate my beliefs into a classroom environment.

What did I do?

To improve my practice I considered the evaluations provided by one particular group of students. As a ‘practising constructivist’ I believed that students need time and opportunities to discuss their understanding, to voice their opinions and as such clarify learning. Activities used should allow students to engage in their learning, have a substantial element of what Watts and Bentley (1991) term self-determination. They consider the strong theoretical version of constructivism as having a metacognitive position, where teachers allow for reflection and learners learn about learning. This belief that students should learn about learning stressed the importance of metacognition. Fisher (1990) explains metacognitive knowledge simply as knowing how you know and the processes by which you think. As Watts and Jofili (1998) assert, how can the teacher construct knowledge for the learner. There is a need for the student to be an independent learner; there is a need for the student to not only engage in learning activities, but also to take more control of the process and direction of the learning.

In order to place the student at the centre of the learning process I had to provide the opportunity for the student to make real choices regarding his/her learning. A major change to the module that I had believed was possible and perhaps even inevitable, was the substantial increase in use of ICT. In their evaluations students had raised the possibility of placing resource materials on the college intranet.

The drive within higher education to promote effective teaching and learning by the adoption of new online technologies (Richardson 2001) had been acknowledged at St Mary’s. WebCT, a virtual learning environment (VLE) had been installed, a site licence purchased and training offered by the appropriate department within college. The opportunity to use this technology was there, but it is not the technology that is important, rather, how it is used by the teacher (Richardson 2001). Although VLEs are designed with a pedagogical model in mind, it is not always explicit (Britain and Liber 1999). If effective teaching and learning is to be claimed by the School of Education, successful use of WebCT is a key factor. This is not a straightforward task, Konrad (2003) points out, VLEs need to provide learning opportunities not available elsewhere and that good guidance and support will enable students to respond to the potential of the VLE. Broad, Matthews and McDonald (2004) consider the shift to new technology by higher education has yet to be pedagogically proven. However, in the spirit of action research I would contend the use of the word ‘proven’. It was not my aim to prove anything, rather to understand how I could use this technology and then to act on this understanding.

It became clear to me during discussions held with a college WebCT trainer that the virtual learning environment should not be used as an ‘electronic dump site’ for module resources. Williams (2002) warns that although the dissemination of materials has improved through the use of electronic environments such as WebCT, we must take care not to put the cost of printing onto students with the increased quantity of background reading that may be made available. With this in mind, plus advice given during the ‘training’ and the need to place the student at the centre of the module, I concluded that a change in approach to module sessions would be needed.

The WebCT module was planned and developed over a three month period, the students registered for the module were divided into two groups and session formats changed from one three hour session each week to one a fortnight. This allowed the students one week contact followed by one week optional non-contact where they could use the time to engage in on-line activities. The non-contact was optional in that I did not feel it appropriate to deny access to a session if a student felt it was necessary to attend. The activities included were chosen to supplement class sessions, rather than to be alternatives. Activities were designed to offer the students the option of engaging in a scientific enquiry or a scenario that allowed the student to develop particular conceptual understanding as an individual or within a group. The biggest modification was that of session structure. I no longer divided the sessions into whole class, group and individual activities with my setting of pace. The students were provided with between five and ten different activities that could be completed in any order and no particular time limit associated with either individual activities or the whole session. In essence students could complete each task in a short time and leave, spend a considerable time on one or more tasks, or spread their contact over the two allotted weeks to each concept. Each week towards the end of the session the students were encouraged individually or in small groups to summarise learning that had taken place. This was then placed on the site for future access by members of the group. An area of the site was included with the specific purpose of communication with individuals or discussion with the whole group.

What evidence did I collect?

The changes made were in response to the previous semester’s evaluation form. When asked about the most useful parts, the least useful parts of the module and what changes the students would make from semester one, three themes emerged. Students liked the practical nature of the module, they did not like the group size (it was too large) and they wanted on-line access to resources. I had taken action to address these themes before the start of the semester and now had an opportunity to reflect on how the changes had been received by the students. In effect I had engaged in a reflect, plan, act, reflect, plan, act cycle suggested in the action research literature (Burton and Bartlett 2005). Although this is a simplified model, as noted by Burton and Bartlett (2005), it does imitate the core of the process I had engaged with.

At the end of the eight weeks the students were asked to complete an evaluation of the module. The evaluation comprised two forms completed by thirty-one students and three recorded interviews completed by five students. The first form included six sections: what I found most useful; what I found least useful; ‘what I would change?’; my own learning; specific comment on WebCT and any additional comment. The following are summaries of the thirty one student responses.

What I found most useful…

The vast majority of the students (26) had commented positively on the practical nature of the module, the group size and WebCT as a resource. A proportion (seven) commented on the increased access to lecturer time both in session and electronically via on-line communication (as stated during recorded interviews at a later date) as a positive aspect of the module.

What I found least useful…

One student made a negative comment regarding WebCT (difficult to access at home), and one student raised the issue of confidence when using the electronic resource. This was a surprise to me, but made it no less important. Some students evidently still have issues of ICT competence that need addressing during the introduction to the module. Two students commented that there was insufficient help for the assignment. Two students commented that lecturer input was too low for the activities set. One student commented that the level of subject knowledge required was too much.

What would you change?

Two students mentioned weekly attendance, two mentioned time and two mentioned the assignment. One student commented that although the practical activities were good, the ‘usual overheads’ were needed to give ‘solid knowledge’ rather than explore topics independently!

My own learning…

Twenty students commented that their knowledge and/or motivation had improved. An additional five students commented on an increase or ‘re-building’ of confidence. Four students noted that they had developed independence in their learning.

WebCT specific comment…

Positive…

Twenty-three students made positive comments regarding the content of the WebCT module. Eight students were positive about the support and communication that it provided.

Negative…

Three students mentioned difficulty of access at some point including no access at home. One commented on a preference for books and one commented on the need for a focus on the tasks set.

In the second evaluation completed fifteen questions were asked of the students. They could respond by indicating on a scale of one to six an increase, a decrease or no change of opinion. A selection of responses included the following: 64% said involvement in lecture had increased (0% said decrease), 70% said there had been an increase in their interest of science (3% said decrease), 61% said their independence had increased (0% said decrease) and 70% said confidence of their science knowledge had increased (0% said decrease). A full table can be found at the end of this paper (Appendix A).

During three recorded interviews the organisation of the module including the introduction of WebCT received favourable comments. Four main questions (Appendix B) were asked and a discussion was subsequently developed after each answer. These interviews were what Powney and Watts (1987) describe as respondent interviews. Although loose in structure, I the interviewer retained control throughout the process. In terms of validity and rigor these interviews were open to further debate, not least that the students were volunteers and those with more negative feelings may have opted not to be involved.

Two themes that emerged were the positive contribution WebCT had made and the option to be an independent learner. The student in the first interview (3m30s) liked the opportunity to become an independent learner. Such independence was not an experience that this student considered common on their programme. A student in the second interview (8m5s) appreciated being ‘allowed to be independent’. That essentially (s)he was being taught in a classroom environment (9m40s) although friends at other universities were in large lecture halls. A student in the third interview commented that (s)he had been ‘subjected’ (18m20s) to independent learning which was good, but had commented elsewhere in the interview that (s)he did need a ‘kick’ to get started! The first two interviews were positive about the need for independent learning as it was an essential part of their future professional career.

What did I learn?

Interpreting responses found in questionnaires or considering student discussion that had been recorded during an interview could be placed within what Bassey (1990) called the interpretivist paradigm. However as Kemmis (1993) explains it is not technique or tools that distinguish action research, but method. I used the evidence collected from evaluations to inform my reflection which will change my practice. This maintains my practice at the core of the research.

My learning has been considerable and varied, yet far from complete. Student responses to changes made were positive. I wanted to provide a learning environment that endorsed a constructivist learning theory. As Millar (1989) declares no one style of teaching should be associated with constructivism, I placed the emphasis onto the students. One or two students did not feel comfortable with the new structure or perceived lack of structure. Fox’s (1983) commentary on styles of teaching in higher education notes, that difficulty may arise when the lecturer’s style of teaching differs from the students’ expectations. Perhaps the theory I was using was not appropriate for some of the students in this group. Two students commented that the activities required them to be too independent and one even mentioned the use of an overhead projector to provide content knowledge. This was in direct conflict with all that I was attempting. This evidence is of no more or no less importance as the evidence from recorded interviews with a self-selecting group of students confirmed their desire to be independent learners. I do not see this as a numbers game, one that gives favour to the majority. If I want to improve my practice, I want to improve it for all not just the majority. Next semester the majorities may even be reversed.

During the semester I maintained a diary to record my thoughts as the new module developed. Two entries (26/4/05 & 6/5/05) in the diary alerted me to the idea that students may be task orientated, rather than what I would term learning orientated. I noted that most students were quick to settle into set tasks that were clearly structured. Tasks that were more open-ended provided more of a challenge. At the start of this paper I stated my role was to ‘teach science’. By reflecting on the work of Millar and others I shifted the emphasis to student as learner of science. Now I as I enter the next cycle of reflection, planning and action I question my position further. To some students the emphasis on self–directed learning comes with the almost abdication of responsibility by the lecturer. To some students there may be the need for ‘someone’ to teach the science, to take a more prominent role in the learning process.

A summary of what is next.

This paper begins by stating that I teach science to primary trainee undergraduate students. I have reflected on the nature of this teaching and my understanding of the learning of science. As a result of planning new actions informed by students’ evaluations and personal reflection I believe that I have developed new insights into my practice and have begun to theorise my practice. During the process questions have come to mind that need continued consideration. Some questions have been prominent this year (What is my understanding of constructivism? Do I provide an environment that supports a constructivist learning theory?), others have started to emerge as I wrote this paper. What is my position? Am I a teacher, a lecturer or another learner within the classroom? In what ways should I involve the students in this process? Do they purely act as evaluators? Do they have a more creative role in the process, one where they are partners in the learning process? This last question causes considerable conflict in my mind. As stated within the paper, I noted diary entries where I question the orientation of the students towards tasks rather than learning. Should I even questioning their orientation, let alone try to challenge it? Those students who want the ‘usual overheads’ for ‘solid knowledge’ have particular needs that require further consideration.

The next phase of reflect, plan and act will provide an opportunity to tackle these issues. I will continue to engage in a process where I am attempting to access the dialectical nature of theory and practice. It will provide the opportunity to improve practice, to generate ideas and most importantly, as McNiff and Whitedhead (in preparation) point out, show how I connect theory and practice to improve practice.

References

Adey, P. (1998) Children’s thinking and science learning in Ratcliffe, M. (Ed) ASE Guide to Secondary Science Education Hatfield: The Association for Science Education

Baker, D. & Millar, K. (1997) ‘Mathematics and science as social practices: an investigation into primary student teacher responses to a critical epistemology’ Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference September 11-14 1997: University of York

Bassey, M. (1990) ‘On the nature of research in education’. Nottingham Polytechnic Faculty of Education PGDip and MEd Course Reader One

Bennett, J. (2003) Teaching and Learning Science: a guide to recent research and its applications. London: Continuum

Boyer, E.L. (1990) Scholarship Reconsidered. Priorities of the Professoriate New York: The Carnegie Foundation

Britain, S. & Liber, O. (1999) ‘A framework for pedagogical evaluation of virtual learning environments’ JISC Technology Applications Programme Report 41 October 1999

Broad, M., Matthews, M. and McDonald, A. (2004) ‘Accounting education through an on-line supported virtual learning environment.’ Active learning in Higher Education July Vol. 5 Issue 2 pp 137-154

Burton, D. and Bartlett, S. (2005) Practitioner Research for Teachers London: Paul Chapman Publishing

Fisher, R. (1990) Teaching children to think. Hemel Hempsted: Simon and Schuster Education

Fox, D. (1983) ‘Personal theories of teaching.’ Studies in Higher Education Vol. 8 no. 2 pp 151-163

Harlen, W. (1996) ‘Primary teachers' understanding in science and its impact in the classroom’ Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association's Annual Conference, Lancaster, September 1996

Hammersley (1993) On the teacher as researcher in Hammersley (ed) Educational Research: current issues Milton Keynes: The Open University

Hitchcock, G. and Hughes, D. (1989) Research and the teacher. A qualitative introduction to school-based research London: Routledge

Kemmis, S. (1993) Action Research in Hammersley (ed) Educational Research: current issues Milton Keynes: The Open University

Konrad, J. (2003) ‘Review of educational research on virtual learning environments (vle) – implications for the improvement of teaching and learning and access to formal learning in Europe’ Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research, University of Hamburg, 17-20 September 2003

Matthews, M. (1994) Science Teaching. The role of History and Philosophy of Science London: Routledge

McNiff, J. and Whitehead, J (in preparation 2006) Action Research in Education London: Sage

Millar, R. (1989) ‘Constructive criticisms.’ International Journal of Science Education Vol. 11 Special issue pp587-596

Monk, M. and Osborne, J. (eds) (2000) Good practice in science teaching Milton Keynes: Open University Press

Powney, J. and Watts, D. M. (1987) Interviewing in Educational Research London: Routledge & Kegan Paul

Porter, J., Hall, N. & Harwood, P. (2003) ‘Developing primary teachers’ confidence in using constructivist approaches in science: the impact on children’s understanding and attainment’ Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, 11-13 September 2003

Ollerenshaw, C. and Ritchie, R (1997) Primary Science: making it work. (2nd Edition) London: David Fulton Publishers Ltd

Ratcliffe, M., Bartholomew, H., Hames, V., Hind, A., Leach, J., Millar, R. and Osborne, J. (2004) ‘Science education Practitioners’ Views of Research and its Influence on their Practice’ An EPSE Research Report: Executive Summary Accessed at http://www.york.ac.uk/depts/educ/projs/EPSE-Project4.html on 3rd August 2005

Richardson, J. (2001) ‘Changes and challenges of academic lives through the introduction of virtual learning environments’ A paper presented at SCUTREA 31st Annual Conference, 3-5 July 2001 University of East London

Schön, D. (1995) ‘Knowing-in-Action. The New Scholarship requires a New Epistemology’. Change Nov/Dec 1995 pp 27-34

Tooley, J. and Darby, D. (1998) Educational Research. A critique. London: Ofsted

Waters-Adams, S. and Nias, J. (2003) ‘Using action research as methodological tool: understanding teachers’ understanding of science,’ Educational Action Research Vol. 11 no. 2 pp283-300

Watts, M. and Bentley, D. (1991) ‘Constructivism in the curriculum. Can we close the gap between the strong theoretical version and the weak version of theory-in-practice?’ The Curriculum Journal Vol. 2 no. 2 pp 172-181

Watts, M. and Jofili, Z. (1998) ‘Towards critical constructivist teaching.’ International Journal of Science Education Vol. 20 no. 2 pp173-185

White, R. (1998) ‘Research, theories of learning, principles of teaching and classroom practice: examples and issues.’ Studies in Science Education Vol. 31 pp 55-70

Whitehead, J. (1989) ‘Creating a living educational theory from questions of the kind, How do I improve my Practice?’ Cambridge Journal of Education Vol. 19 no.1 pp 41-52

Williams, P. (2002) ‘The learning Web: The development, implementation and evaluation of Internet-based undergraduate materials for the teaching of key skills.’ Active learning in Higher Education March Vol. 3 Issue 1 pp 40-54

 

Appendices

Appendix A

Table 1 Student responses 1 - 6

No.

Comment

Decreased

Neutral

Increase

1

%

2

%

3

%

4

%

5

%

6

%

1

My enjoyment of learning has…

0

3.22

6.45

29.03

45.16

16.12

2

My involvement in the session has…

0

0

12.9

22.58

54.8

9.67

3

My interest in science has…

0

3.22

3.22

19.35

48.38

22.58

4

Independence in my learning has…

0

0

6.45

32.25

51.61

9.67

5

My understanding of science has…

0

0

0

29.03

58.06

9.67

6

My motivation has…

0

6.45

9.67

38.7

38.7

6.45

7

My understanding of sound has…

0

0

3.22

25.8

48.38

19.35

8

My understanding of materials has…

0

0

6.45

9.67

64.51

16.12

9

My understanding of ecology has…

3.22

0

6.45

25.8

61.29

3.22

10

The quantity of work outside lecture has…

0

3.22

9.67

35.48

41.93

9.67

11

The quality of work outside lecture has…

0

3.22

12.9

22.58

54.83

6.45

12

The quantity of work during lecture has…

0

3.22

16.12

25.8

38.7

12.9

13

The quality of work during lecture has…

0

0

3.22

25.8

54.83

12.9

14

Awareness of my understanding has…

0

0

6.45

29.03

54.83

9.67

15

My confidence of science knowledge has…

0

0

3.22

25.8

58.06

12.9

 

Table 2 Student responses summarised into ‘Decreased’, ‘Neutral’ and ‘Increased’.

No.

Comment

Decreased

%

 

Neutral

%

 

Increased

%

 

Total

%

1

My enjoyment of learning has…

3.22

 

35.48

 

61.28

 

99.98

2

My involvement in the session has…

0

 

35.48

 

64.47

 

99.95

3

My interest in science has…

3.22

 

22.57

 

70.96

 

96.75

4

Independence in my learning has…

0

 

38.7

 

61.28

 

99.98

5

My understanding of science has…

0

 

29.03

 

67.73

 

96.76

6

My motivation has…

6.45

 

48.37

 

45.15

 

99.97

7

My understanding of sound has…

0

 

29.02

 

67.73

 

96.75

8

My understanding of materials has…

0

 

16.12

 

80.63

 

96.75

9

My understanding of ecology has…

3.22

 

32.25

 

64.51

 

99.98

10

The quantity of work outside lecture has…

3.22

 

45.15

 

51.6

 

99.97

11

The quality of work outside lecture has…

3.22

 

35.48

 

61.28

 

99.98

12

The quantity of work during lecture has…

3.22

 

41.92

 

51.6

 

96.74

13

The quality of work during lecture has…

3.22

 

29.02

 

67.73

 

99.97

14

Awareness of my understanding has…

0

 

35.48

 

64.5

 

99.98

15

My confidence of science knowledge has…

0

 

29.02

 

70.96

 

99.98

Totals do not add up to 100 due to rounding.
Numbers 3,5,7,8 & 12 reduced due to incomplete student forms.

 

 

Appendix B

Interview questions

1.      Can you make any comments regarding the use of WebCT, either positive or negative?

2.      Can you make any comments on you as an independent learner?

a.      Should you be independent?

b.      Do you need help to be independent?

c.      How can we help you to be independent

3.      In what ways has the module helped you to learn science?

a.      In what ways has the module prevented you from learning science?

4.      Is there anything else you would like to say about the course, WebCT or your learning?

What's New

NEW BOOK AVAILABLE NOW!
NEW BOOK AVAILABLE NOW!

VALUE AND VIRTUE IN PRACTICE-BASED RESEARCH (2013) EDITED BY JEAN MCNIFF, DORSET, SEPTEMBER BOOKS.

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD. 

JEAN MCNIFF'S (2010) ACTION RESEARCH FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: CONCISE ADVICE FOR NEW (AND EXPERIENCED) ACTION RESEARCHERS. DORSET, SEPTEMBER BOOKS. PLEASE GO TO WWW.SEPTEMBER-BOOKS.COM FOR FURTHER INFORMATION. 

THIS BOOK IS A BRAND NEW PRODUCTION AND HAS LOTS OF EXAMPLES, EXERCISES AND REALLY PRACTICAL ADVICE THAT ENGAGES WITH FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT ACTION RESEARCH. IT GIVES A CONCISE THEORETICAL OVERVIEW FOR ACTION RESEARCH AS WELL AS OUTLINING ITS HISTORICAL ROOTS. I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT!

Go to www.september-books.com to order and to see further information about the book and its contents. 

September Books

Conferences

 

Read about the Value and Virtue in Practice-Based Research conference at York St John University, Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th June 2015. Go to www.yorksj.ac.uk/value&virtue for further information.
Keynote speakers: Dr Tina Cook, Northumbria University

Professor Carol Munn-Giddings, Anglia Ruskin University


Professor Julian Stern, York St John University


Professor Jean McNiff, York St John University

 

 

 

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