About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4161-4168
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain

BUILDING EVALUATION CAPACITY IN SCIENCE EDUCATION: THE CASE OF INQUIRY BASED SCIENCE EDUCATION METHOD

V. Rocco

University of Bergamo (ITALY)
This research project focuses its attention on the evaluation of the Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) teaching method promoted on a European level as pedagogical practice for renewing science teaching in formal and informal education systems (Rocard, 2007). IBSE is an active approach leading students to develop key scientific ideas through learning how to investigate and build knowledge and understanding of the real world (Harlen, 2011). Different studies have demonstrated the efficiency of this approach in improving both teachers’ motivation and students’ interest and achievement (Duschl & Grandy, 2008; Minner, Levy & Century, 2010). Despite the spread of IBSE projects, an adequate development of solid evaluation practices is lacking. Practitioners are often uncomfortable with the evaluation task, usually spending little time on it and using poor tools to evaluate IBSE activities. They often manifest concerns over how, when and why to evaluate (Coyle, 2005).

To investigate this issue, this research has analysed the INQUIRE project (Inquire Based Teacher Training for Sustainable Future), adopting the theory of Evaluation Capacity Building (ECB, Preskill & Boyle, 2008) INQUIRE is an European Union funded project which aimed to reinvigorate IBSE in schools, botanic gardens and other Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) institutions. Fourteen botanic gardens involved in the project developed and evaluated their own IBSE training course. Teachers and LOtC educators, working with pupils aged between 9 and 14, are supported to build their subject knowledge in climate change and biodiversity loss and to enhance their teaching skills in IBSE (Bromley at al., 2013). ECB is the intentional work which intends to develop evaluation capabilities in order to conduct rigorous evaluation. It involves the supply of technical skills, tools and resources to produce effective and useful evaluations that become sustainable over time. Adopting a mixed-methods approach, we systematically analysed how the evaluations were used within training courses developed by Science Museum of Trento (Italy) over two years (2011-2013) and the main evaluation instruments used in the said training courses, put into effect by European partners involved in the project. Study findings suggest that the INQUIRE project has helped practitioners to improve their ability to conduct effective evaluations in school and in LOtC sites, providing convenient resources and fostering technical skills that helped practitioners to learn about evaluation. However, the findings also identify two points of criticism, current evaluation practices of IBSE activities are usually focused on the individual learner perspective. Thus, the cognitive model tends to override the participative model. Secondly evaluation procedures are often fragmentary or confined to limited lapses of time. Moreover they are mainly focused on pre- and post-tests more than on the real dynamics of educational interplay. As a consequence, teachers and educators usually see assessment more as a summative than a formative practice and learning potential of students is not maximized.

The following four recommendations are suggested as crucial steps to overcome these weaknesses and improve evaluation practices: promoting dynamic assessment processes, ensuring clearness and flexibility, valuing tacit knowledge, and fostering collaboration.
@InProceedings{ROCCO2015BUI,
author = {Rocco, V.},
title = {BUILDING EVALUATION CAPACITY IN SCIENCE EDUCATION: THE CASE OF INQUIRY BASED SCIENCE EDUCATION METHOD},
series = {7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN15 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-606-8243-1},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {6-8 July, 2015},
year = {2015},
pages = {4161-4168}}
TY - CONF
AU - V. Rocco
TI - BUILDING EVALUATION CAPACITY IN SCIENCE EDUCATION: THE CASE OF INQUIRY BASED SCIENCE EDUCATION METHOD
SN - 978-84-606-8243-1/2340-1117
PY - 2015
Y1 - 6-8 July, 2015
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN15 Proceedings
SP - 4161
EP - 4168
ER -
V. Rocco (2015) BUILDING EVALUATION CAPACITY IN SCIENCE EDUCATION: THE CASE OF INQUIRY BASED SCIENCE EDUCATION METHOD, EDULEARN15 Proceedings, pp. 4161-4168.
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