Context-based learning in the middle years : Achieving resonance between the real-world field and environmental science concepts

Journal article


King, Donna and Henderson, Senka. (2018). Context-based learning in the middle years : Achieving resonance between the real-world field and environmental science concepts. International Journal of Science Education. 40(10), pp. 1221-1238. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2018.1470352
AuthorsKing, Donna and Henderson, Senka
Abstract

There is growing interest in how to engage middle school students in science to improve their enthusiasm for science and to arrest the decline in uptake in the senior years. Also, there is interest in improving students’ application of science to real-life situations, a requirement for international tests. One approach that offers hope for improving students’ connections between concepts and context is the context-based approach. Context-based units that connect canonical science with the real-world of the student’s local community have been trialled in the senior years but are new in the middle years. Research in senior classes has shown that students who were taught through a context-based approach demonstrated fluid transitions between the context and concepts in written work and student-student conversations. In the current ethnographic study we built on our previous work and investigated how students make connections between the environmental science concepts and the context of the weekly visits to the local creek. Students were immersed in the real-world context by completing an 11-week environmental science unit that required assessment of the health of a creek. Two assertions emerged; firstly, student-student conversations at the creek afforded students the opportunity for interconnections between environmental science concepts and the context (defined as resonance); and secondly, students’ written reports about the health of the creek demonstrated resonance. Furthermore, group work encouraged students the agency to complete sets of tasks that privileged visually obvious environmental science concepts such as pollution, identification of plants/animals or turbidity/flow rate.

Keywordscontext-based; environmental science; middle years; resonance
Year2018
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Journal citation40 (10), pp. 1221-1238
PublisherRoutledge
ISSN0950-0693
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2018.1470352
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85046718588
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1221-1238
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online11 May 2018
Publication process dates
Accepted24 Apr 2018
Deposited15 Jul 2021
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