by Paulien Postma and Christine Knippels (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
In spring 2015 Utrecht University presented the PARRISE project and ideas about SSIBL (socio-scientific inquiry based learning) to a new cohort of 14 upper secondary pre-service teachers (PSTs).
We devised a pilot teacher training program of two sessions, with colleagues in our team at Utrecht University. In the first session PSTs were acquainted with main characteristics of the SSIBL approach and examples of socio-scientific issues (SSIs). This was followed up by a classroom conversation on how to introduce SSIs in the biology classroom and use them to initiate inquiry. In addition, PSTs – working in groups of three students – developed their own SSIBL lesson plan, which took up approximately 4 hours of independent work. PSTs presented their work in the second session.
The pre-service teachers came up with interesting SSI themes! Examples are the food-waste issue and nature preservation programs. The educational goal was to let pupils (age 15-18) inquire into the topic by means of field-research (interviews, ecological field work) and literature research.
In addition, pupils were stimulated to express and shape their opinion concerning the SSI by means of a dialogical classroom conversation. Interesting to see was the special attention PSTs gave to support the pupils in taking action based on their SSIBL-research.
A questionnaire was designed to ask PSTs about their ideas and thoughts about the SSIBL approach as introduced in the teacher training program. According to the pre-service teachers SSIBL is of added value for students’ scientific citizenship education, which they find an important learning goal in the biology curriculum. 10 out of 14 PSTs indicated they want to incorporate SSIBL lessons in their biology lesson program. To make a better connection between SSI and inquiry based learning (IBL), PSTs indicate they need more insight in the IBL approach.
Utrecht University will take thisfeedback into account and refine its teacher training program for autumn 2015.