Browsing by Subject "science education"

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  • Wolff, Lili-Ann; Vuorenpää, Sari; Sjöblom, Pia (2018)
    Social change requires new educational planning and sustainable teaching methods. Shaping an environment of care with animals as a part of the daily school life may produce such a change. In this article, we present a transdisciplinary study with the aim of exploring whether raising chickens in a classroom could promote learning, especially sustainability learning, and how. The study employs an ethnographic approach and we have analyzed the data according to interaction analysis. We collected the data in a culturally-diverse Finnish primary school class during May 2018. The data comprise field notes, videos and photographs from indoor and outdoor school activities; interviews and discussions with teachers and students; and, texts and artifacts that were made by students. The results show that having chickens in the classroom not only improved the students’ learning of biology, but also enhanced many other activities. The chicken project became part of a complex learning culture that met several of the aims of the curriculum and in many ways reached beyond the aim of merely learning science. The project became a natural part of sustainability education and promoted the acquisition of knowledge and skills in relation to the ecological and social dimensions of sustainability.
  • Kervinen, Anttoni; Uitto, Anna; Portaankorva-Koivisto, Päivi; Juuti, Kalle; Kesler, Merike (2016)
    The article discusses the development of an educational model intended to support teachers’ professional development in science education. In this research and development project, LumaLähetit, pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, and teacher educators formed teams to collaboratively plan teaching and produce material for inquiry-based and integrative science instruction in primary schools. The results are based on three design cycles of the model. Thus far, ten schools, 24 in-service teachers, 30 pre-service teachers, and 560 pupils have participated. The results, which are based on the qualitative content analysis of participants’ open answers to a questionnaire, indicate that the developed collaborative model for science education supported pre-service teachers and in-service teachers’ professional development in many ways. Several processes mediating the embodiment of the designed model were identified, especially during the second or third design cycles. Participants reflected on theory and practice. They experienced increased knowledge about inquiry and integrative approaches, collaborated in teams to some extent, and found this to be supportive during the project. Also, pre-service teachers appreciated the opportunity to teach in the schools. In general, careful goal setting, collaboration between the participants, and guidance by teacher educators during the initiation of the project were found to te crucial to the further success of the project. The results highlight a need for further research in order to better meet to the challenges of team teaching, inquiry-based instruction, and integrative teaching. The designed model was developed between the cycles and must be further developed in the future, especially in terms of supporting collaboration and clarifying theoretical concepts during the project.
  • Kapon, Shulamit; Laherto, Antti; Levrini, Olivia (2018)
    Pursuing both disciplinary authenticity and personal relevance in the teaching and learning of science in school generates tensions that should be acknowledged and resolved. This paper problematizes and explores the conceptualizations of these tensions by considering personal relevance, disciplinary authenticity, and common school science as three perspectives that entail different educational goals. Based on an analysis of the literature, we identify five facets of the tensions: content fidelity, content coverage, language and discursive norms, epistemic structure and standards, and significance. We then explore the manifestations of these facets in two different examples of the instruction and learning of physics at the advanced high school level in Israel and Italy. Our analysis suggests that (1) the manifestations of these tensions and their resolution are highly contextual. (2) While maintaining personal relevance and disciplinary authenticity requires some negotiation, the main tension that needs to be resolved is between personal relevance and common school science. (3) Disciplinary authenticity, when considered in terms of its full depth and scope, can be equipped to resolve this tension within the discipline. (4) To achieve resolution, teachers’ expertise should include not only pedagogical expertise but also a deep and broad disciplinary understanding.
  • Kaul, Maya; Aksela, Maija Katariina; Wu, Xiaomeng (2018)
    One of the greatest ways to transform education systems is to develop community-centered professional supports for in-service teachers. Given the rise of distance learning platforms such as massive open online courses (MOOCs), there is a growing potential to deliver such supports at scale. The community of inquiry (CoI) framework models the asynchronous, text-based communication that defines educational experiences within such collaborative learning environments; however, methods of CoI transcript analysis must be improved. This paper uses the University of Helsinki’s 2016 MOOC, Sustainable Energy in Education, as a case study on how the CoI framework can be used to characterize the educational experience of in-service teachers in distance learning environments. Using the CoI coding protocol, this paper employs a transcript analysis of the discussion forum posts on the MOOC (n = 78), and applies improved measures of reliability in order to understand the capacity of CoI transcript analysis to reliably define online learning experiences. The findings suggest that, while the CoI framework is able to characterize some elements of online learning communities, more work needs to be done to ensure the framework captures the more nuanced elements of such educational experiences, such as the effects of course design and the relative engagement of course participants.
  • de Vocht, Miikka; Laherto, Antti Mikko Petteri; Parchmann, Ilka (2017)
    The European Union pushes science education to orient toward the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI; i.e., socially and ethically sensitive and inclusive processes of science and technology). Schools should further understanding on how science interacts with society and increase students’ engagement in science. This exploratory study analysed concerns of 67 active, forward-looking teachers from 10 European countries using a questionnaire based on the concerns-based adoption model (C-BAM) and open-ended questions regarding the adoption of RRI into teaching. In the context of an international professional development programme on RRI, a pre/post comparison was also carried out for 29 of the teachers. The results showed that the forerunner teachers were willing to find information and collaborate on RRI teaching and believed that RRI can engage students and be a worthwhile part of the curriculum. Yet the respondents voiced personal concerns about their ability to teach RRI, and only a few concerns were resolved during the professional development period. Teachers need extended support and networking to contextualise RRI into their science lessons. On the basis of the results, we discuss the possibilities of teaching RRI implicitly rather than explicitly in order to foster students’ own reasoning about RRI-related values. Our results also demonstrate that the customary questionnaire used with C-BAM gives a consistent picture of teachers’ concerns but does not differentiate teachers enough in order to formulate a statistically sound clustering of concern profiles. We argue that with proper adjustments the questionnaire can provide more diverse and informative profiling of teachers’ concerns.
  • Södervik, Ilona; Nousiainen, Maija; Koponen, Ismo (2021)
    The purpose of this study is to increase the understanding about undergraduate life science students’ conceptions concerning the role of photosynthesizing plants in the ecosystem, utilizing a network analysis method. Science learning requires the integration and linking of abstract and often counterintuitive concepts successfully into multifaceted networks. The quality of these networks, together with their abilities to communicate via the language of science, influences students’ success in academic, verbal problem-solving tasks. This study contributes to investigating students’ understanding, utilizing a modern network analysis method in exploring first-year university life science students’ written answers. In this study, a total of 150 first-year life science students answered two open-ended tasks related to the role of photosynthesizing plants in the ecosystem. A network analysis tool was used in exploring the occurrence of different-level science concepts and the interrelatedness between these concepts in students’ verbal outputs. The results showed that the richness of concept networks and students’ use of macro-concepts were remarkably varied between the tasks. Higher communicability measures were connected to the more abundant existence of macro-concepts in the task concerning the role of plants from the food-chain perspective. In the answers for the task concerning the role of plants regarding the atmosphere, the students operated mainly with single facts, and there were only minor interconnections made between the central concepts. On the basis of these results, the need for more all-encompassing biology teaching concerning complex environmental and socio-economic problems became evident. Thus, methodological and pedagogical contributions are discussed.
  • Tolppanen, Sakari; Aksela, Maija Katariina (2018)
    This study uses qualitative content analysis to examine 355 open-ended questions, presented by 16–19 –year-old international students, to find out what students want to learn about climate change. The study finds that students have a high level of consideration toward scientific, societal, and ethical aspects of climate change and that students' questions are multidisciplinary and complex in nature. Most important, the findings show that students ask questions on the same themes that researchers say should be addressed in multidisciplinary climate change education. Based on the findings, this article suggests that climate change education could be developed by adopting guided inquiry.
  • Kiviluoma, Tomi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Education research has for decades acknowledged that prior knowledge is a strong predictor of academic success. This idea is largely based on constructivist theory of learning which postulates that all learning occurs by actively building on existing knowledge. When this prior knowledge conflicts with the normative scientific understanding, students are dealing with incompatible knowledge structures, or misconceptions. Misconceptions need to be revised and sometimes even replaced through a learning process called conceptual change. Research shows that the level of prior knowledge can determine students’ academic success and performance. Undergraduate biology students enrol to university with diverse levels of prior knowledge and concepts regarding topics such as photosynthesis, cellular respiration, primary production in ecosystems, and Darwinian evolution. These topics present challenges for learning because of their complexity. At the same time, a robust understanding of them is essential. These topics are at the heart of mitigating and resolving the climate crisis and other global natural threats. This study explored the level of prior knowledge and the nature of misconceptions held by undergraduate biology students at the beginning of their academic degree in fall of 2019, and further sought to describe how their conceptual understanding developed during the first academic year. Students (N = 41) completed a questionnaire consisting of eight open-ended questions that were designed to assess declarative knowledge of facts and meaning, and procedural integration and application of knowledge. This pre-test measurement was conducted in September 2019. In the post-test measurement, the same questionnaire was repeated a year later. The data were analysed with a mixed methods approach where the answers were quantitatively scored as well as qualitatively analysed for misconceptions. The qualitative content analysis of the answers relied both on existing literature and on the content of the answers themselves. Results showed that the students’ prior knowledge was relatively poor in the beginning of their studies. Most students performed well in tasks measuring knowledge of facts and meaning but struggled in tasks measuring integration and application of knowledge. During the first academic year, the students’ understanding generally improved as demonstrated by the improvement in mean scores of the tasks. Misconceptions were robust and pervasive. The most pervasive misconceptions reflected difficulties in understanding emergent properties and processes. Misconceptions related to the process of Darwinian evolution became more prominent in the post-test. Persistent misconceptions became integrated with the new conceptual frameworks that the students acquired during the first academic year. If students held no misconceptions in the post-test, they performed significantly better in both tests than those with misconceptions. During this first academic year learning seemed to be mainly additive as conceptual change turned out to be rare. The need for more encompassing biology teaching at least in the University of Helsinki became evident. Introductory courses should acknowledge the large degree of variation in students’ prior knowledge and assess the most common and serious misconceptions even over course theme disciplines to ensure more equal learning outcomes.
  • Laherto, Antti (2020)
    Global sustainability crises are changing the aims, pedagogies and research in science education. The field is increasingly oriented towards transformative education for sustainable development. School science should now support responsible agency and value-based transformation. This article argues that the thinking in the field of Futures Studies can help students to see alternative futures and take action. Science education provides excellent opportunities for scenario building activities, addressing the uncertainty, and shaping transformative agentic orientations. Future-oriented activities developed in the I SEE project are presented as an example. The suggestions are discussed with relation to the topical sustainability crises and the COVID19 pandemic.
  • Loukomies, Anni; Pnevmatikos, Dimitris; Lavonen, Jari; Spyrtou, Anna; Byman, Reijo; Kariotoglou, Petros; Juuti, Kalle (2013)
    This study aimed to design a teaching sequence for science education that enabled lower secondary school students to enhance their motivation towards science. Further, it looked to examine the way the designed teaching sequence affected students with different motivational profiles. Industry site visits, with embodied theory-based motivational features were included as part of the designed teaching sequence. The sequence was implemented in Finland and Greece with 54 participants, 27 from each country. Quantitative data was collected using the Evaluation of Science Inquiry Activities Questionnaire, based on the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory but did not map the expected outcomes. Interviews, however, showed that students with different motivational profiles found aspects within the module that met their psychological needs as explained by Self-Determination Theory. The results offer a perspective to adolescents’ psychological needs along with some insights into how students mediate the way they value an activity in the context of science education.
  • Vartiainen, Jenni; Aksela, Maija (2019)
    Homes have remarkable possibilities to act as science learning environments for young children (3 - 6 years old). This qualitative case study investigated what kind of support parents need to do online science activities with their children at home. Data consisted of parent’s theme interviews (n=7). As a main result, a model of parents’ need for support was produced. The model contains three dimensions: 1) the affective dimension, 2) the knowledge and skills dimension and 3) the organizational dimension. Parents’ own affective experiences, organization of the experiments and finding time to do experiments are important factors to consider, when looking at parents’ willingness to engage in science activities with their children. The parents might not necessarily be content with only the child’s interest in experimenting as a reason to carry out science activities at home, instead they need to be interested and engaged in activities themselves.
  • Haatainen, Outi Maria; Turkka, Jaakko Samuli; Aksela, Maija (2021)
    To understand how integrated science education (ISE) can be transferred into successful classroom practices, it is important to understand teachers’ perceptions and self-efficacy. The focus of this study is twofold: (1) to understand how teachers perceive ISE and (2) to assess if science teachers’ perceptions of and experiences with integrated education correlate with their views on self-efficacy in relation to ISE. Ninety-five Finnish science teachers participated in an online survey study. A mixed method approach via exploratory factor analysis and data-driven content analysis was used. Self-efficacy emerged as a key factor explaining teachers’ perceptions of and their lack of confidence in implementing ISE as well as their need for support. In addition, teachers regarded ISE as a relevant teaching method, but challenging to implement, and teachers primarily applied integrated approaches irregularly and seldom. Furthermore, teachers’ experiences with integrated activities and collaboration correlated with their views on integrated education and self-efficacy. These findings indicate teachers need support to better understand and implement ISE.
  • Hernández-Ramos, José; Pernaa, Johannes; Cáceres-Jensen, Lizethly; Rodríguez-Becerra, Jorge (2021)
    Currently, a growing number of learning institutions at all educational levels are including problem-based learning (PBL) in their curricula. PBL scenarios often utilise technology and socio-scientific Issues (SSI), which enables the simultaneous learning of content and creative thinking and working skills needed in generating new knowledge for the future. In this sense, using SSI and technological tools in PBL learning environments can be viewed as a starting point for acquiring and integrating new knowledge. However, there is no comprehensive knowledge regarding the possibilities of this approach. The objective of this systematic review is to produce this knowledge via the PRISMA method. The strategy is used to explore the effects of the described approach through implementations conducted at secondary and undergraduate levels. The data consisted of 33 research articles that were categorised via qualitative content analysis. According to the results, PBL scenarios exploit mainly local SSIs that link scientific knowledge with a meaningful context for students. Technology is principally used in offering technical support for teaching tasks. Lastly, these results are discussed from the technological pedagogical science knowledge (TPASK) framework perspective, which proposes guidelines for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
  • Markula, Anette Emilia; Aksela, Maija (2022)
    The aim of this multiple-case study was to research the key characteristics of project-based learning (PBL) and how teachers implement them within the context of science education. K-12 science teachers and their students’ videos, learning diaries and online questionnaire answers about their biology related PBL units, within the theme nature and environment, were analysed using deductive and inductive content analysis (n = 12 schools). The studied teachers are actively engaged in PBL as the schools had participated voluntarily in the international StarT programme of LUMA Centre Finland. The results indicate that PBL may specifically promote the use of collaboration, artefacts, technological tools, problem-centredness, and certain scientific practices, such as carrying out research, presenting results, and reflection within science education. However, it appeared that driving questions, learning goals set by students, students’ questions, the integrity of the project activities, and using the projects as a means to learn central content, may be more challenging to implement. Furthermore, although scientific practices had a strong role in the projects, it could not be defined how strongly student-led the inquiries were. The study also indicated that students and teachers may pay attention to different aspects of learning that happen through PBL. The results contribute towards a deeper understanding of the possibilities and challenges related to implementation of PBL and using scientific practices in classrooms. Furthermore, the results and the constructed framework of key characteristics can be useful in promoting research-based implementation and design of PBL science education, and in teacher training related to it.
  • Mutanen, Justus; Aksela, Maija Katariina (2018)
    Science competitions, such as the International Biology Olympiad, are non-formal education targeted to upper secondary school students with high abilities. However, there is little knowledge about what is the relevance of training for a science competition. In this study, Finnish Biology Olympiad training participants were researched in the context of relevance of science education. In total, 28 students filled in questionnaires and participated in interviews. It was found out that the students experienced the training to be especially individually relevant for them, and there was no significant difference between genders. Based on theresults, vocational and societal topics should be taken into more account in designing Olympiad trainings
  • Snell, Karoliina; Tarkkala, Heta (2021)
    Finnish biobanks have started to recruit children. The national supervising authority has emphasized the centrality of providing children with age-appropriate information. We analyzed one such campaign. We argue that by simplifying the complex socio-technical arrangements of biobanking with the introduction of a new metaphor-like concept, "Bio-me," the campaign presents a misleading and reductionist picture of data-driven biomedicine and biobank participation. First, the Bio-me character seems to bear similarities to the seventeenth-century explanations of embryological development. Second, the focus in the campaign is on biological material while crucial connections to different sorts of data are ignored. Third, we point to the absence of verbal references to genes and DNA, although the prevailing visualization comprises the double helix. We argue that the campaign has potential to contribute to public misunderstanding of science by introducing a new term that has little connection to actual biology or scientific practices it tries to promote.