2020 Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA) Conference

2020 Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA) Conference

Hosted by University of Wollongong Online Conference: June 23-26, 2020

Paper presentation

Planning interdisciplinary maths/science learning sequences for system impact

Authors

Team: Vaughan Prain, Lihua Xu, Joanne Mulligan, Richard Lehrer, Leona Schauble, Chris Nielsen, Melinda Kirk, Chris Speldewinde

There is increasing pressure on universities to demonstrate the wider impact of their research. As a science education community, we have an established interest in our research influencing teacher practice and beliefs. How can we package our research findings to inform and influence teachers, and systems?

This paper describes long-term design research leading to an interdisciplinary primary mathematics/science learning approach based on students constructing representations, consistent with core disciplinary practices. The particular task on which we are currently focused is that of translating the research findings into effective teacher resources. The paper describes the design stages leading to our current understandings of how to support teachers to adopt the approach with some fidelity. The stages are:

  1. Long term development of research programs, working with dedicated teachers and tracking student learning, to generate key principles.
  2. Widening the program to develop interdisciplinary mathematics/science learning sequences, curriculum-aligned, working across schools and teachers, year levels and topics.
  3. Identifying key features of the pedagogy and challenges to teachers’ beliefs and practices that need to be addressed.
  4. Codifying the approach, and sequence structures, to provide clarity on what is at stake, in ways attentive to teachers’ busy lives and competing interests.

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Paper presentation

Exploring innovative pedagogies through interdisciplinary mathematics and science learning in the primary school

Authors

Team: Vaughan Prain, Lihua Xu, Joanne Mulligan, Richard Lehrer, Leona Schauble, Chris Nielsen, Melinda Kirk, Chris Speldewinde

This paper describes the rationale and pedagogical approach of a 3-year longitudinal study designing and evaluating interdisciplinary mathematics and science learning sequences for Grades 1 through 6 across three schools (https://imslearning.org/). Topics included measuring height, ecology, astronomy, motion, light, flight, chemical science, water, fast plants, and microbiology. The pedagogy involves students’ construction and refinement of diagrammatic and textual representations and the development of measurement and data modelling, reflecting core disciplinary processes. A four-stage pedagogical model was employed:

  1. Material engagement/observation/measurement: a stimulus and problem opens up generative learning opportunities through establishing a need to collect, interpret and represent data and/or construct explanatory representations of the phenomenon.
  2. Representation challenge/invention: Students are challenged to invent/construct representations that reflect their measures, interpretations, and explanations.
  3. Comparative review/sharing/evaluation: The teacher strategically guides sharing/display and comparison/evaluation of the representations.
  4. Review/ refinement/application to new settings: Students refine or revise their representations, or respond to new and related challenges.

The paper draws on video data and interviews to illustrate each stage, and examine the variety of ways the model is enacted by different teachers in different topics. We report on the key elements of the pedagogy that effectively support learning in both science and mathematics.

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Paper presentation

Multiple representations in student learning of optics: An interdisciplinary approach

Authors

There is a growing interest in the roles of multiple representations (MRs) in teaching science and of student generated representations (e.g. drawings) in facilitating student conceptual understanding in various science topics. This study examines intertextual and contextual meaning making afforded by multiple representations constructed by primary students in an optical unit over a ten-week period. The tasks in the sequence were designed to facilitate meaningful connections between concepts in science (e.g. reflection) and in mathematics (e.g. angles). The pedagogy involves students’ construction, refinement and evaluation of representations and models to describe and explain experienced phenomena. This presentation reports the analysis of student work generated from the sequence,  verbal accounts provided by the teacher and the students in interviews and video records of classroom interactions. The findings from this study demonstrate the value of this interdisciplinary approach in engaging students in core disciplinary practices in mathematics and science and in enabling them to make meaningful connections between these two curriculum areas.

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