In Portugal, the implementation of the PARRISE project focused on upper-secondary school levels in formal education contexts, involving schools located in Porto’s metropolitan area. Accordingly, the Teacher Professional Development (TPD) course developed, in two rounds (2016 and 2017), was intended for in-service biology/geology teachers.
The main goals of this TPD course were to i) trial and test the SSIBL framework in real educational contexts; ii) develop materials and activities based on this framework, which could be validated through their implementation in schools; and ii) assess the impact of these activities in regards to students’ learning and motivation.
Overall, the TPD course was designed for a total of 25 hours: 15 corresponding to a set of five (face‐to‐face) classroom sessions; and 10 of individual, distance learning. In what concerns the classroom component, the sessions were both theoretical and practical. Theory‐driven sessions included an initial presentation of the PARRISE project and the SSIBL framework, as well as an analysis of the biology curriculum in light of the SSIBL theoretical framework. Discussion about the potential and limitations of the framework based on the participants’ experience and expertise was promoted and questions and comments in this regard were encouraged. In what comes to the practical component of these face‐to‐face sessions, working in small groups, the participants were asked to begin working out a selection of activities and resources of their choice based on a SSIBL approach. To provide some solid ground that could scaffold their work an example of a SSIBL activity was thoroughly deconstructed and discussed with the participants.
Concerning the distance‐learning component of the course that followed the first four classroom sessions, its 10 hours were ascribed to the implementation of the activities and resources developed during the face‐to‐face sessions by the participants in their own schools.
Finally, a discussion session was organized to gather the participants’ feedback on their individual actions, setting a supportive stage for discussion, reflection, review and sharing of practices.
Following the TPD course, the participants should be able to:
- analyse teaching scenarios according to elements of the SSIBL framework;
- reflect on the various elements of the SSIBL framework and on the teaching skills required for these elements to be implemented in school;
- develop SSIBL activity modules and related assessments to be able to enact SSIBL-oriented activities in real-school contexts;
- implement SSIBL activities in their biology classrooms;
- evaluate (the implementation) of SSIBL activities both in terms of their teaching effectiveness and pupils’ learning;
- critically reflect on the TPD course and propose means for future improvement;
- encourage the development of knowledge, tools and methodologies necessary for the application and development of new experimental activities.
- raise awareness on the importance of practical and laboratory work as an integral and essential part of the teaching-learning process;
- encourage the development of partnerships between schools and higher education/research institutions aiming to enhance the development and transfer of innovative educational practices.
As part of the TPD evaluation, the following questions were addressed:
- To what extent does this TPD program support teachers' professional development regarding the SSIBL model?
- What conclusions can be drawn from the TPD experience regarding the SSIBL model? c. What are the teachers’ attitudes towards the SSIBL approach?
- To what extent can teachers integrate the SSIBL-approach in common tasks and materials, such as course assignments, student-learning materials, lesson plans?
- What challenges do teachers face when trying to integrate SSIBL in materials they design?
- How do the SSIBL-based activities developed by the teachers impact students’ understanding and motivation?
- Which changes should be introduced in future editions of the TPD program to better support teachers’ professional development regarding the SSIBL model?
The evaluation was continuous throughout the training course and included: evaluation of the quality and suitability of materials/activities developed by the participants; qualitative analysis of the teacher educators’ reflective notes; classroom observations of the sessions in which the SSIBL activities were implemented; pre- and post-test survey to assess the impact of the activities on students; open-ended feedback questionnaire applied at the end of the TPD program.