Challenge Based Learning – How Science Works

Using the Challenge-Based learning model, the Big idea here is to improve science literacy among elementary students. The essential questions are what is science, how should it be taught, and how can this be achieved in a open, non-classroom setting.

Understanding Science

My specific challenge is the design of a program to accomplish this. My particular research objectives are to determine an optimal structure for such a program and to develop specific components, or at least detailed plans and rationales for those components.

My target audience is in two groups. One is a set of educators, scientists and media professionals with whom I plan to arrive at the overall structure and organization of the program. The other is a set of middle school students who I plan to collaborate with on the specific roles of young people in the program as well as doing a pre-test of the types of questions we might get as well as their responses to the program design.

My initial concept was that we needed only to shift the focus to the process of the scientific method as opposed to the body natural history facts. But in the course of my literary review, I realized that the misunderstanding of the scientific process was actually deeper and more complex, and so have significantly shifted the initial program goals to include more about the scientific community and the more a global concept of theoretical models used to understand the function of the universe.

I prepared a pre survey and post survey for the students, and had planned to deploy them first, as that target audience is somewhat more defined and accessible to me. But as I was discussing the implementation of this phase of the project I realized I had put the cart before the horse, and that I should poll my set of colleagues before the set of students, as the results of that poll are more likely to alter the macro-organization of the project which may cause me to want to make changes in what information I need to get from the students.

So I have deployed a pre-survey to the key members of my colleague set, who are evaluating its construction, and once finalized, who will start a chain of distribution within their communities.

Once I have results, I will reevaluate the program structure, reiterate specifics and then survey the student population, and quickly thereafter, do focus group work with them. I will then synthesize the data from those three inquiries, and present the results to the core collaborators among my colleagues, at which point we will finalize the program design, and begin design implementation with the students.

I am doing this organizing via email, distributing surveys online, and will meet with, and video the focus groups in person. Because many in the colleague population are dispersed, some of that interaction will likely take place in an online forum or email list. Social networks may be useful, and I had planned to use Google Plus, but a certain level of saturation with such technologies needs to exist for them to be useful. Facebook may be a better alternative, although I have not yet managed to find way to do substantive work in that environment which I find so dominated by chit chat.

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One thought on “Challenge Based Learning – How Science Works

  1. This is very impressive, I am looking forward to reading your about your phase implementation. Excellent blog responses! The pre survey will allow you to see where your target audience began followed by the post survey to show growth and success of your implementation.

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