School-based support for immersing digital technology into the inquiry-based project learning of science in a primary school

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Abstract

Inquiry-based learning and project learning are often considered capable of increasing students’ interest of learning science, developing their scientific investigation and thinking skills, and cultivating their ability for independent and collaborative learning. On the other hand, digital technology can further enhance the learning effectiveness of those pedagogies. However, there still lacks sufficient research findings and implementation experience on incorporating digital technologies into the inquiry-based project learning in primary schools. Therefore, the present work of a two-year project provides some intensive school-based support to a Hong Kong primary school for that aim through (i) workshops for teachers’ professional development; (ii) lesson study consisting of collaborative design of lessons and post-lesson conference for reflection and refinement of teaching; (iii) test-bed; and (iv) evaluation of students’ learning through questionnaire survey, subject matter test, interviews and lesson observation. Students and General Studies teachers of Grade 3-6 in this school participate in this project. A total of 4 topics were selected to adopt the inquiry-based project learning approach in a digital technology rich environment. They are living in Hong Kong, sound and light, electricity and simple mechanics, respectively for grade 3-6. For the electricity theme, four inquiry activities were conducted by students in Grade 5 to study closed circuit, conductor, fruit cells, and generation of electricity by magnet. Each activity lasted for 80 minutes. A total of 4 General Studies teachers and 124 students were involved. A preliminary analysis of the questionnaire and knowledge test of Grade 5 indicates that students (i) gain significant improvement in their conceptual understandings of electricity;(ii) acquire the basic skills of using digital technology in inquiry activities; (iii) are confident to use digital technology in their learning; (iv) perceive that both inquiry-based project learning and digital technologies can increase their interest in learning. Lesson observations reveal that teachers still lack the abilities to handle the inconsistent data collected by students. It is suggested that digital technology can be appropriately adopted in the inquiry-based project learning in primary science, but teachers still need more experience to doing inquiry so as to get deeper understanding of the nature of inquiry itself, which is helpful for dealing with the complicated situations of organizing inquiry-based project learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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Citation

Yeung, Y.-y., & Wan, Z. (2011, October). School-based support for immersing digital technology into the inquiry-based project learning of science in a primary school. Paper presented at the 2011 International Conference of East-Asian Association for Science Education (EASE 2011), Chosun University, South Korea.