Cyber-enabled Learning: Digital Natives in Integrated Scientific Inquiry Classrooms
The NSF award number of the project is DRK12-1020091, from 2010 Sept. to 2015 Sept.
(Video and music: Edward Powers)
There are many ICTs (information and communication technologies) being used by students outside of schools but they never have chances to use them in schools. Teachers need to be trained to learn how ICTs can be used to facilitate scientific inquiry and develop their new literacies skills. The purpose of this study is to find out more about how students’ science learning outcomes and experiences are transformed by technology-based innovations in science teaching. The team will conduct professional development (PD) for forty-five 7th and 8th grade science teachers in New York City public schools from 2011 to 2015. The professional development will provide teachers with skills and knowledge of using technology to design curriculum activities in the science classroom. The team will collect and analyze data from teachers (scientific inquiry teaching attitude, ICTs skills, new literacies confidence), students (science learning motivation, ICTs skills, new literacies confidence, GPA, state exam data), and classroom observations (RTOP). The team also expects to see the transferable use of ICTs to other topics.
The team will provide workshops for three cohorts starting from summer 2011. Each cohort includes 15 teachers and the professional development will continue for two years for each cohort. Teachers will participate in four professional development workshops addressing the following four New York State living environment standards: human impact on living environment, photosynthesis, evolution theory, and the human body, while incorporating the scientific inquiry standards throughout each topic. The PD addresses three major skills: ICTs, scientific inquiry and new literacies.
ICTs adopted in this project include word processing, spreadsheet, still images, video clips, web search engines, Google Form, Google Earth, social networking tools, cyber databases, and iOS app (collect data through probeware and iPad).
Teachers will go through the scientific inquiry process during the PD to be prepared to facilitate students’ scientific inquiry skills, which are to: form scientifically testable questions, form a hypothesis, develop a research plan, collect data and evidence, interpret and analyze data, draw conclusions to examine the hypothesis, form alternative explanations, and communicate findings to others.
New literacies refers to the skills to use ICTs to identify questions, locate information, evaluate the information, synthesize information to answer questions, and communicate the answers to others. In this project, students use ICTs to support their scientific inquiry and practice their new literacies skills.
The team has already conducted two workshops with the first cohort, and collected the baseline data of cohort 1 teachers and students. The data revealed that there is a significant gap between teachers’ confidence in teaching science as inquiry, and confidence in new literacies and ICTs skills, in their classroom practices. Inquiry activities and technology integration rarely occurred. If integration did occur, it was mostly as structured inquiry. Guided or open inquiry did not occur.
Students’ achievement data will be collected starting from the end of year 2. The team will continue to conduct the last two workshops for cohort 1, and start working with cohort 2. Findings regarding the impact of the PD on students’ learning motivation, achievement, new literacies skills, and teachers’ classroom practices will be reported in year 3.