New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

The Effect of the Implementation of a Variety of Inquiry Based Pedagogical Strategies on Student Learning in Science, with a Focus on Students from Disadvantaged (DEIS) Schools

Samantha Prior, University of Limerick (Ireland)

Audrey O’ Grady, University of Limerick (Ireland)


As students’ interests in secondary school science are dramatically decreasing, teachers are faced with the dilemma of trying to engage their students in class.  However, it is even harder to engage students in Science from one of the 192 schools promoting the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) initiative in Ireland. The DEIS action plan was created to ensure educational inclusion and to overcome educational disadvantage throughout Ireland. Despite this apparent prioritisation of the educational needs of young people from disadvantaged communities, the uptake of Science subjects in disadvantaged schools remains significantly lower than the national average. It is important to address the gap between Science uptake by students from disadvantaged communities. Often students from these communities are influenced by the ‘norm’, and as a result have little to entice them to pursue what is considered to be a more challenging subject.

Innovative teaching methods can be seen as the answer to this problem and thus improving student learning and engagement in Science. The purpose of this study is to review the literature extensively, and identify which pedagogical strategies work best to actively engage students from disadvantaged schools in Science. Innovative pedagogical methods such as inquiry based science education, problem based learning, hands on learning, peer learning and the use of advanced technologies are examined in great detail, with the focus of the review being on identifying and summarising the core features of a lesson that allow students from disadvantaged schools to learn best in Science, and thus encouraging the students to have a voice in their own education - this enables them to contextualise their own learning in a creative, hands-on engaging way. Research has shown that the use of innovative pedagogical strategies can have a dramatic effect on student learning and engagement. There is an overwhelming difference in student attitudes towards Science, and thus their uptake of the subject in the upper tier of secondary school, and at third level because of the successful implementation of innovative teaching methods in Science.


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