Academic journal article Education

Assessment of the Inquiry-Based Project Application in Science Education upon Turkish Science Teachers' Perspectives

Academic journal article Education

Assessment of the Inquiry-Based Project Application in Science Education upon Turkish Science Teachers' Perspectives

Article excerpt

Contemporary international economic competition and social, scientific and technological developments have significantly changed ways of living all over the world. In the countries aiming at constructing powerful generations, it has been understood that science education plays a prominent role in flourishing scientific thinking and research, in learning how to study scientifically and in structuring attitudes towards natural sciences (AAAS, 1989; European Commission. 2004; NRC, 1996; Bybee, 1997). Today, the nature of science education, scientific literacy, scientific process skills, scientific, technological, social and environmental understandings, science history and philosophy, socio-scientific and cognitive constructivist learning perspectives have all been considered as an important educational objective (Anderson, 2002; Atkin&Black, 2003; AAAS, 1993; Bell& Lederman, 2003; Akinoglu & Tandogan, 2007). Science education is of great importance in raising individuals who search, discuss, experience, observe, learn and develop scientific attitudes constantly. Fundamental objective of science education in primary schools is to enable students to observe their natural environment and to develop skills required to understand and explain both themselves and their environment. In science and technology education, the success of inquiry-based active learning depends on whether the required materials, environment, socio-psychological support and teaching guidance are offered (Bellipanni & Lilly, 1999; Brickhouse, 1990; Bybee, 2000; Chinn& Malhotra, 2002; Cothron, Giese& Rezba, 1996; DeBoer, 1991). One of the most spectacular and effective educational activities allowing learning by doing and inquiry-based active learning in science education is project activities. Projects play a prominent role in enabling students to understand the nature of science and in making students enjoy science classes. The use of project activities in science education is relied on Dewey's new school life and on that students learn how to solve problems by themselves here (Dewey, 1916; Dewey, 1938). Projects include the searching of a problem through cognitive processes. In science education, project works could be distributed in a teaching year or they could be undertaken in science fairs or project contests at the end of teaching years. During the project preparation process, teacher gives referential books, various materials and equipments to students. S/he shows various measures which should be taken to avoid several problems during the project work. Students solve various problems by undertaking projects and thus, they process information and develop their skills of studying and thinking by themselves or in small groups. In project activities, students' active participation and works are of major importance (Driver, Newton& Osborne, 2000; Ediger, 2005; Howe, 1997; Lederman, 2004; Minstrell, 2000; NRC, 2000). Project works are relied on planned research, examination and observation. Projects also pave the way for the attainment of report preparation and presentation skills. During project activities, students choose which project will be undertaken, prepare plans to solve project questions, implement these plans and discuss and assess the project process and results. During the project implementation process, students are expected to develop their skills of thinking, problem solving, creativity, access to information, information processing, questioning, making conclusions, presentation and negotiation (Rutherford& Ahlgren, 1989; Schneider& Lumpe, 1996; Wells, 1994; Wilson, 2004; Yager, 2000). In the process, teacher acts as a facilitator and offers guidance to students. Here, students act autonomously and conceive the whole process. At the end of each project, a concrete output should be produced by students. Project development is basically a long, complex and demanding process. It requires students' high level thinking skills, such as creativity, inquiry, communication and scientific process skills. …

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