Creating personal meaning through technology-supported science inquiry learning across formal and informal settings

Anastopoulou, Stamatina; Sharples, Mike; Ainsworth, Shaaron; Crook, Charles; O'Malley, Claire and Wright, Michael (2012). Creating personal meaning through technology-supported science inquiry learning across formal and informal settings. International Journal of Science Education, 34(2) pp. 251–273.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2011.569958

URL: http://www.open.ac.uk/personalpages/mike.sharples/...

Abstract

In this paper, a novel approach to engaging students in personal inquiry learning is described, whereby they carry out scientific investigations that are personally meaningful and relevant to their everyday lives. The learners are supported by software that guides the inquiry process, extending from the classroom into the school grounds, home, or outdoors. We report on a case study of personal inquiry learning with 28 high school students on the topic of healthy eating. An analysis of how the personal inquiry was enacted in the classroom and at home, based on issues identified from a study of interviews with the students and their teacher, is provided. The outcomes showed that students were alerted to challenges associated with fieldwork and how they responded to the uncertainty and challenge of an open investigation. The study, moreover, raised an unexpected difficulty for researchers of finding the ‘sweet spot’ between scientifically objective but unengaging inquiry topics, and ones that are personally meaningful but potentially embarrassing. Implications for further research are shaped around ways of overcoming this difficulty.

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