by Andri Christodoulou & Marcus Grace (University of Southampton, UK)
Our “Science with and for Society” themed workshops at Southampton Education School have continued this year with a number of sessions and activities taking place during the first semester of 2015-16. In October, we had the opportunity to inform about 15 of our teacher mentors about the PARRISE project and its aims, and have had a discussion with them about how they could support the pre-service teachers they will be working with during the year. During November, approximately 50 of our pre-service teachers (PSTs) at Southampton Education School took part in two “Science with and for Society” workshops (see Figures below).
During these workshops, we aimed at introducing our PSTs to the main principles and ideas behind the SSIBL framework and allow them to identify ways in which they could incorporate inquiry-based learning and the use of ethical and societal issues into their planning and teaching of science. We discussed the meaning and importance of inquiry-based learning; drawing from personal experiences during their first school placement, pre-service teachers worked in small groups brainstorming on how to ask questions and develop activities that promote inquiry-based thinking and learning. We, then, used these ideas and considered how ethical and societal issues related to science could be incorporated into inquiry-based thinking and learning. Authenticity, and how this can be made part of the PSTs’ classroom practice, was discussed extensively as it was identified as a challenge for them at this stage in their training.
Finally, our PSTs had the opportunity to engage in activities on three SSIBL scenarios, each exemplifying different aspects of the SSIBL framework. The first scenario on climate change allowed PSTs to consider how they can present and discuss the quality of scientific evidence about a controversial issue, and suggested ideas about “taking action” and making the topic relevant to their pupils. The second scenario posed the question: “Would you sign a petition for a ban on using animals to test new drugs?” and focused on the issue of testing drugs on animals, with PSTs examining evidence and engaging in deliberation through a role-play activity in order to answer the question posed. Finally, our third scenario asked “Where does your electricity come from?” and aimed at engaging PSTs in decision-making around the issue of using nuclear power plants. Our PSTs are now working on independent study tasks on issues of teaching and learning science, one of which is socio-scientific inquiry-based learning, and this work will be further developed and discussed in the new year.