NARST News III: Inquiry

| May 19, 2010

More highlights from the sessions I have been attending included design based research in science education and developing inquiry-based curriculum materials.

The strand around design based research featured a collaborative National Science Foundation grant funded project with the University of Michigan. They are designing an inquiry science environment based on CAST’s Universal Design principles. This session focused on the design aspect of the project and how they were pilot testing the application with multiple audiences and iterating based on the results. The online science environment aims to allow students the chance to interact with avatar’s for aid in their learning, and they are looking to find which specific features of their application help what profile of students. This project was interesting in the sense that the UDL principles are becoming more and more relevant as we design applications because if we design at a level for those that may have learning disabilities it allows us to include that population where they may have been left out otherwise. It is a perspective that is abut designing for all students and as certain science policies call for ‘science for all’ or ‘no child left behind’ such access for all has to be considered.

Additionally, in the scientific inquiry vein the session featuring multiple BSCS presentations provided a current evaluation of inquiry-based curricula developed and tested with multiple audiences to understand learning gains. The presentations featured at NARST are available on theirĀ website for further specific details. But where I found this section particularly interesting was the discussions generated after each of the sessions. Particularly around the acknowledgment that there is still so much unknown around the construct of ‘inquiry’ and even people who are leaders in developing materials for it struggle with articulating how all the pieces fit together, but recognize and encourage continued scholarship. The session ended with an encouraging message that we need to work as a community to parse out the nuances and build a clearer picture.