FOSTERING REFLECTIVE PRACTICE AROUND RRI IN AN ONLINE COURSE FOR IN-SERVICE STEM TEACHERS
Universitat de Barcelona (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:It is widely accepted that online training is particularly useful for in-service teacher professional development. Recently, it has been reported that online learning for teachers has great potential for flexibility and adaptation to teachers' schedules, as well as giving them direct experiences as students learning with a variety of technologies (Ching & Hursh, 2014). In Spain, online training for teachers has experienced a great growth on the last years and it presents advantages that make teachers prefer it over face-to-face training in some cases (Alfaro, Fernández & Alvarado, 2014).
One of the aspects of online training that bring more attention has to do with the learning methodology. We can find several examples of online training courses which follow models similar for traditional learning. This is to say, their goal is to communicate factual knowledge or information to learners. As an example, in recent online training modalities such as MOOCs, the so-called Content-based MOOCs (xMOOCs) deliver content in a way that could be compared to the traditional, teacher-centered model of training.
However, several authors have argued that conceptual input is not enough to support teacher development. The focus should be switched to reflection and decision-making related to action. Reflection was perceived as useful by science teachers (Bell & Gilbert, 2007). Further, Driel & Beijaard (2003) propose classroom practice among the factors needed to influence teachers’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge, together with conceptual input, collegial interactions. We present a study in which we incorporate selected features of reflective practice into a traditional online course for teacher professional development. The course is mainly targeted to STEM secondary school teachers, i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The goal of the course is to help teachers to reflect on their teaching practice in the light of Responsible Research and Innovation. This refers to those aspects of the scientific competency related to engage as citizens in science. The course lasted for 6 weeks.
The course introduced teachers to pedagogical strategies in lesson plans, which they would implement and reflect on throughout the course. Each week, teachers would complete an assignment to answer questions as:
1) What have we done this week?
2) How does this affect my practice and
3) Do I make any decision?.
Both quantitative and qualitative data have been collected. Quantitative data shows the number of teachers who made use of each of the learning opportunities in the online course, namely digital learning resources, readings, videos, forums, and assignments. Qualitative data enables to understand the quality of teacher’s reflections as they are expressed in the reflective weekly assignment.
Results suggest that the course was successful in keeping teachers motivated to finish the course, and shades light about the number and quality of interactions that took place between teachers and the learning materials, as well as between teachers themselves, factor that are key in successful PD training courses. The analysis of the reflections show that the course was effective in promoting teachers’ understanding on content, methodology and RRI approach, leading to inquiry-based actions with their students in the classroom. Finally, challenges and new possibilities to combining assessment via reflective practice with self-assessment assignments are outlined.
Keywords: In-service teacher training, teacher development, online course, e-learning, STEM.