THE PROFILES TEACHING/LEARNING MODULES
The development and use of teaching modules is an integral part of the PROFILES project. These modules are unique to the project and are specifically designed to meet the philosophical ideas behind the project.
HOW ARE THE MODULES UNIQUE?
— Each module includes
inquiry-based teaching and learning
within the area of science education.
— Each module includes
education through science
learning. This means the modules focus on educational learning in science lessons (as per the curriculum expectations) and thus the modules include more than just cognitive science or science skills.
— Each module addresses
(the interest of the students is aroused and they want to learn more) through a socio-scientific scenario which introduces the teaching in an interesting and student relevant manner. (Often the title of the module is in the form of a question which is raising an issue or concern relevant and familiar to students).
WHAT IS INQUIRY LEARNING IN SCIENCE EDUCATION?
This student-centred component is intended to be a key part of the student learning (at one of three levels). Wherever possible, the modules are made flexible so that it is the teacher who determines the appropriate inquiry learning level for the students.
Three factors are considered in determining the inquiry learning level:
a)who determines the inquiry to be carried out (i.e. who specifies/puts forward the scientific question to be answered)
b)who determines the planning for the inquiry (including apparatus/chemicals to use, number of readings/outcomes to include, the accurate of readings, etc.)
c)who determines the interpretation of the findings/results.
The inquiry level is labelled – structured, if the teacher provides the first two factors and students the last
The inquiry level is labelled – guided, if the students provide one of the first two factors and the last.
The inquiry level is labelled – open, if students provide all three factors (and the teacher acts in the role of a facilitator).
Although EACH MODULE recognises these levels, it is expected that the modules do not actually specify the level.
WHAT IS ‘EDUCATION THROUGH SCIENCE’?
PROFILES recognises that learning only science content and skills within science lessons is not enough. The modules are to guide student learning and all areas of learning should be included, especially those areas which relate to student centred learning and student self-determination. The modules particularly are expected to highlight a number of key skills, i.e. team-work skills, communication skills, creative skills, skills in relating the science to society and above all decision making skills. Such features heavily promote educational competences.
WHY ARE MODULES SOCIO-SCIENTIFIC?
PROFILES modules are designed to address a major concern related to science teaching at the junior secondary level and above, i.e. how to increase student motivation, or more specifically how to increase student motivation emanating from the learning itself (i.e. enhance intrinsic motivation).
It is assumed that students are more likely to be intrinsically motivated if the learning is familiar, seen by students as relevant to their lives and addressing an area where they already possess some prior knowledge. The teaching approach is thus developed from society to the science. Each module thus starts from society and is intended to lead to the science learning in a motivational fashion. The introduction is labelled a scenario, but may be promoted in a motivational way through a variety of styles.
PROFILES MODULES – A UNIQUE 3- STAGE MODEL FORMAT
The design of each module is based on 3 key stages (but these stages are not indicated to students):
Stage 1 – A socio-scientific beginning – learning in context
Stage 2 – Student-centred inquiry learning – de-contextualised learning
Stage 3 – Acquired science put into society – re-contextualised learning
THE STRUCTURE OF THE MODULES
For the teacher, each module consists of a minimum of 4 parts:
– A front page (general information for the teacher)
– Student part (introduced to the students in stages or as a complete unit – teacher decision)
– Teacher guide (suggestions to support the teacher)
– Suggestions for assessment (further support for the teacher in determining student learning)
The front page spells the attributes on which the module is based – the intended student grade level, the subject emphasis and most important of all, the intended student learning (‘IL’ and ‘ES’ in PROFILES).
The student part includes the scenario and the identified tasks for the students (beginning in the socio-scientific stage 1, continuing into stage 2 (the science learning that stems from the introduction) and also covers stage 3 – the socio-scientific decision making, as the science learning is consolidated.
The teacher guide provides guidelines for the teacher on the teaching approach and the learning emphasis being suggested for the module, while theassessment suggestions further assist the teacher in seeking student feedback on the intended learning.
Where additional notes support the teacher, or worksheets are provided (which the teacher may or may not wish to use), these can be included in an optional section called teacher notes.
How Best to Maintain a Metal Bridge?
This set of activities allows students to consider factors which can be involved in determining the best soap to use. The activities also allow students to devise tests for determining the effectiveness of the soaps as cleaning agents. Finally the activity reinforces the meaning of a soap and an understanding of its cleaning action
Zero Emission Carsfor – Is It Feasible?
This set of activities allows students to consider factors which can be involved in determining the use of vegetable oils in a diesel engine, its cost effectiveness, cleanliness for use and finally the ethical aspects of whether it should be used this way. The activities also allow students to devise tests for determining the calorific value of fuels. Finally the activity reinforces the meaning of an ester and its presence in biological materials.
Am I being Cheated in the Market Place?
Balances are commonplace in markets. They are used to weigh fruit and vegetables from as little as 100 g to more than 5 kilos. Many types exist, some using weights and others where there is only 1 pan. Is their accuracy acceptable? Are they being used accurately by the sellers?
Should Vegetable Oil be used as a Fuel?
This set of activities allows students to consider factors which can be involved in determining the use of vegetable oils (as biodiesel) in a diesel engine, its cost effectiveness, cleanliness for use and finally the ethical aspects of whether it should be used this way. The activities also allow students to devise tests for determining the calorific value of fuels as wellas reinforcing the meaning of an ester, the esterification prcoess and the presence of esters in biological materials.
Should we do more to save monuments from corrosion?
Many sculptures around the world have a special significance in history and form an important part of our cultural heritage to be passed on to future generations. Unfortunately many sculptures today are showing signs of decay. Many bronze statues have lost valuable detail and in places, are beginning to look like a sieve with many holes. What is the problem with these bronze statues? Can we do anything to save this important cultural heritage? Can science come to the rescue?
Which Soap is Best?
This set of activities allows students to consider factors which can be involved in determining the best soap to use. The activities also allow students to devise tests for determining the effectiveness of the soaps as cleaning agents. Finally the activity reinforces the meaning of a soap and an understanding of its cleaning action.
Traffic Accident: who is to blame?
A boy was knocked down by a van on a pedestrian crossing linked with traffic-lights. The boy was slightly injured. A reconstruction of the accident was undertaken in an attempt to determine blame.
This series of lesson assumes that the students are familiar with the laws of motion, but explores the possibility of introducing the idea of friction by an examination of skid marks related to an actual traffic accident. The students are thus introduced to the coefficient of friction through trying to solve an actual societal problem.