Biology by inquiry an invervention programme in Irish post primay schools
thesisposted on 2023-02-09, 15:11 authored by Emma Ryan
The publication of ‗Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation‘ (2006) by the Irish Government and of ‗Task Force on the Physical Sciences‘ (2002) recognises the decline in the number of students taking up sciences at both senior cycle and into third level and the dramatic need for a change in how science is being taught in Irish post-primary schools. The OECD report (2006), Evolution of Student Interest in Science and Technology Studies, recommended that teaching should concentrate more on scientific concepts rather than on the retention of information. The central aim of this thesis is to gain an insight into the attitudes and perceptions of qualified science and biology teachers and students towards the use of Inquiry based teaching and learning in the Irish Post-Primary Classroom and investigate the extent to which the principles of scientific inquiry teaching and learning are being practiced in the Senior Cycle Biology classroom from a teacher and student perspective. Inquiry-based learning requires students to develop scientific process skills and an understanding of the science content while working in a pedagogical manner that combines hands-on activities with student-centred discussion and discovery of concepts. Many educational theorists have listed advantages associated with inquiry-based learning but the principle advantages for students is that they think critically for themselves; providing them with the tools to be lifelong learners and good future scientists. This research study was divided into three parts, used a mixed method approach and was conducted over a two year period. Part one was the exploratory phase that used science/biology student and biology teacher questionnaires and biology student and teacher interviews to gather data relating to the research questions and aims of this research study. Part two involved the development of inquiry-based teaching resources and led to the development of the Inquiry Based Biology Lesson Student Booklet. These resources were then used in Part three - the Intervention Programme. Results indicated that the majority of Junior Certificate Science students and Leaving Certificate Biology students are not practicing the true principals of scientific inquiry. Even with all of the associated advantages of inquiry-based learning teachers mentioned limited time, syllabus constraints, pressure to get the course completed and no assessment of inquiry-based methods as problems that hinder them implementing inquiry-based learning into post-primary schools. Pre- and post-lesson questionnaires and pre- and post-lesson interviews were conducted with students who participated in the intervention programme. The results showed students had an increased understanding and knowledge of scientific process skills. A change in their attitudes towards science/biology, an increase in their engagement of science and development of many skills was recorded. Recommendations arising from this research study included the need for inquiry-based learning to be incorporated into the Junior Certificate Science and Leaving Certificate Biology assessments. Other recommendations include the need to encourage teachers to partake in in-services or Continuous Professional Development on inquiry-based learning and make inquiry resources widely available for the current teaching profession.