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Research in science education in the UK: Past, present, and future

Research in science education in the UK: Past, present, and future

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Research in science education in the UK: Past, present, and future

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  1. Research in science education in the UK: Past, present, and future John K. Gilbert King’s College London The University of Reading

  2. Structure • Landmarks in the history of SER in the UK; • Achievements to date • Current challenges in doing SER • Critique of educational research • The future: Types of research • The future: Themes for research • The future: Conditions for success in SER • References

  3. Landmarks in the history of SER in UK • Nuffield Science Teaching Trust: 1962-mid 1970s • SER in Specialist Centres and Education Departments • SSRC Studentships and overseas research students • ‘Studies in Science Education’ (1974) ‘European Journal of Science Education (1979) • Assessment of Performance Unit (1974-88), Secondary Science Curriculum Review(1983-1989) • The National Curriculum for England and Wales 1988

  4. Achievements in SER (1) • Common commitments: - School system, especially 11-16 age range -Improvement in teaching, hence in learning - Qualitative enquiry, hence explanation - Constructivism: Piaget, Kelly, Vygotsky

  5. Achievements in SER(2) • Alternative conceptions / misconceptions • Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education • Teacher development • Language use in the classroom • Attitudes • Laboratory work • Argumentation • Policy document : ‘Beyond 2000: Science Education for the future’

  6. Current challenges in doing SER • Staff profile and education • Isolation • The fate of good researchers • Availability of high-quality time • Administrative and teaching load • Research design possibilities

  7. Factors affecting educational decisions • Local political issues • Public, especially parental, sentiment • Potential legal pitfalls • Issues of resource availability • Media pressure • The welfare of individual pupils ------ • and ‘research evidence’ (Nelson et al{2009})

  8. Critique of educational research(1) • Funding based on peer review; • Low involvement by major stakeholders; • Insufficient basis in existing published research; • Too small scale to produce ‘valid and reliable’ results; • Published in specialist language; • Published in inaccessible media; • Lack of interpretation for teachers or policy-makers; • Lack of recognition of existing norms of practice. (Hillage, Pearson, Anderson, Tamkin {1998})

  9. Critique of educational research (2) • Lack of relevance to issues of local importance • Lack of timeliness • Unstated assumptions • Uneven quality • Lack of clear implications (Nelson et al {2009})

  10. The future: Types of research • Inform new policy or practice in a specific area • Evaluation of existing policies or practices • Action research in specific context • Identification of effective practices • ‘Blue skies’ research • Enquiry from particular psychology-of-learning perspective ( McIntyre{1998})

  11. The future: Themes for research(1) • Relation between aims and content • Relation between aims and assessment methods • Links with other subjects, especially English, Mathematics, and Technology • Increasing students’ engagement with science • Use of out-of-school activities • Influence of gender and cultural background on learning • Linking research, policy formation, classroom practice, teacher education (Gilbert(Ed){2006})

  12. The future: Themes for Research (2) • Students - attainment of ‘scientific literacy’ - cross-curricular integration of learning - learning from ‘contexts’ - continuity/differentiation/progression - adult and multi-generational learning • Teachers - use of informal resources - subject and pedagogic content knowledge • Policy makers - procedures for decision-making - use of research output

  13. The future: conditions for success: resources • ESRC - 55 studentships in Education (2009-2010) - TLRP, 1998-2009, £3.6m -epiSTEMe, 2008-2012 • Charities - Nuffield Foundation - Wellcome - AstraZenaca Science Teaching Trust - Gatsby Foundation • European Union • Schools

  14. References • Gilbert,J.K.(ed.)(2006). Science Education in Schools: Issues, evidence and proposals. London: TLRP • Hillage,G.,Pearson,A.,Anderson,A., Tamkin,P.(1998). Excellence in research in schools. London: DES. • Jenkins,E.(2000). Research in science education: Time for a health check?. Studies in Science Education, 35,1-26 • McIntyre,D.(1998). The usefulness of educational research. In: J.Rudduck, D.McIntyre(eds.), Challenges for Educational Research. London: Paul Chapman • Nelson,S.,Leffler,J.,Hanseb,B.(2009). Towards a research agenda for understanding and improving the use of educational research. Portland,Oregon: Northwestern Regional Educational Laboratory. (http://www.nwrel.org/researchuse/report.pdf) • Waring,M.(1979). Social Pressures and Curriculum Innovation.London: Methuen