1 Sofia University (BULGARIA)
2 National High School of Mathematics and Science (BULGARIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 3345-3355
ISBN: 978-84-608-2657-6
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain
This paper presents a scientific study conducted within the FP7 European project Working Environment with Social and Personal Open Tools (weSPOT). The main goal of the project is to support research approach in education by evolving a pedagogical model for Inquiry-based learning (IBL), developing and approbating software environment with open tools providing technology to carry out an inquiry. For drawing a credible assessment of weSPOT model and tools a layered evaluation method (based on Van Velsen et al.) is applied. The project implementation is divided into four iterative design phases:
• Phase A: “Conceptual evaluation” with no system available
• Phase B: “Qualitative and formative evaluation” with low-fidelity prototype available
• Phase C: “Quantitative and formative evaluation” with high fidelity prototype available
• Phase D: “Quantitative and summative evaluation” with full working system available

The paper is focused on the last, summative evaluation. The students’ progress in development of meta-inquiry skills was investigated by pre- and post-test for collecting quantitative data about epistemic belief, nature of science literacy and domain knowledge. Qualitative data has been collected by in-place observation as well as periodical interviews and discussions with teachers.

This article describes two pilots designed at the last project phase and held in two Bulgarian high-schools – First Private Mathematical Gymnasium (FPMG) and National High School of Mathematics and Science (NHSMS). The first scenario Feeding with Balance – Health in Advance in FPMG was organized at guided level of IBL pyramid with 37 participants – 19 students in an experimental group testing the whole framework and 18 in a control group applying only the weSPOT IBL model. The second scenario School of the Future in NHSMS was implemented as an open personal inquiry. Due to the nature of this level of inquiry, only four students were involved in the experiment – two in control and two in experimental group.

The paper goes deep into students’ achievements analysing their test results at each step, comparing attainments according to the degree of using the predefined tools, tracing the growth of the young scientists. During two pilots the newly acquired learners' sklills are discussed. Most important of them are problem definition, determine the current issue state, generating scientific hypothesis and finding a way to prove or reject it, cooperation with experts in the field of study, creating and processing an online survey, interviewing, team working.

Some conclusions are drawn about the capability of weSPOT environment to support the new generation of researchers and certain recommendations are formulated about improving the effectiveness as it is expected from the School of the Future.
Inquiry-based learning, summative evaluation, young researchers.