Re-crafting Science Laboratory Learning Activities
The curriculum strands of Science Understandings, Science as a Human Endeavour, and Science Inquiry Skills, call for holistic changes in the science classroom. The ASELL for Schools – Victorian Node project worked to re-craft laboratory learning activities (LLAs) that incorporate these three strands in innovative ways.
Through planning and delivering new LLAs at each workshop offered across Melbourne and in some rural regions from 2015-2018, the following principles formed the basis for the re-crafting:
- Use of Inquiry-based Learning – Modeling scientific practices to students and giving them increasingly more independence in all steps of the scientific process.
- Engaging students with Conceptual Learning – Successfully linking hands-on laboratory activities to conceptual knowledge, helping the student make deeper connections.
- Use of the Representation Construction Approach – Giving students the opportunity to demonstrate and develop their knowledge not only with words, but also with multimodal representations (such as: diagrams, role plays, animations).
- A focus on the Assessment of Inquiry Skills – Teachers are encouraged to focus on one or two of the Inquiry Skill outcomes in each LLA. This builds students skills towards being able to conduct open ended investigations (required at VCE level). The Inquiry Scaffold Tool is introduced and used to scaffold teaching and learning for each inquiry skill outcome.
- A focus on incorporating Contemporary Science Practice – Making science contextual and relevant to the students and helping them link conceptual knowledge learned in the classroom to real-life applications of science – often through current research projects representing scientists and their data.
At the heart of an LLA is the understanding that science is everywhere, and that science activities should guide students into deeper conceptual understanding while also developing inquiry skills to replicate how Scientists conduct research.