New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Irish Teacher Experiences of Implementing a Lower Post-Primary Inquiry-Focussed Science Curriculum

Colm O'Coileain, Dublin City University (Ireland)

Yvonne Crotty, Dublin City University (Ireland)

Abstract

In September 2016, a new science curriculum was introduced for lower secondary education students in Ireland, as part of a wider reorganization of what is now called the Junior Cycle. One of the main consequences of the new Junior Cycle science curriculum is an increased emphasis on Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) in the classroom, and for the teachers to provide more opportunities for the students to carry out investigations. Training has been provided to teachers, in the form of three full days over three years, in equipping them with various methodologies that can be utilized in the classroom. This paper investigates the extent to which the teachers in one post-primary school are implementing IBL in their teaching. The teachers were asked to complete a web-based survey eliciting their opinions on several aspects of their teaching practice, including: whether they feel there has been any change in their teaching since the curriculum change; their understanding of IBL; whether they implement IBL, or inquiry strategies in their classrooms; and whether, if they do use inquiry in their practice, they feel there has been any impact on student learning or interest. The self-reported views of teacher practice vary amongst the teachers, with some reporting more change in their teaching styles than others. Similarly, the change in perceived student attainment and interest is not uniform amongst teachers, and is reported to vary by class grouping and ability levels. Finally, there is little variation in understanding Inquiry Based Learning between teachers.
 

Keywords

inquiry, curriculum change, Ireland 

 

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