David L. Haury and Peter
This book presents answers to frequently asked questions about hands-on approaches to science teaching and learning. The questions were formulated by speaking with teachers and people who work with teachers on a regular basis to improve classroom practice. Variations of the questions are frequently asked by both experienced and novice teachers.
In an attempt to represent a wide range of perspectives in answering the questions, we have used a "triangulated" approach that incorporates the response of teachers, curriculum developers, and other scholars who have produced the professional literature in science education. Teachers - from their direct experiences and education - have a great deal of practical classroom wisdom, so it seemed natural for experienced teachers to provide the first "angle" to the triangle by writing answers to specific questions about hands-on science. For the second angle, answers to specific questions were also solicited from developers of hands-on materials. The third approach to answering the questions involved reviewing the existing professional literature in science education and selecting findings, conclusions, assertions, and recommendations that seem to respond in spirit to the questions posed.
This compilation of questions and answers is intended as a resource for teachers, supervisors, administrators, parents, educational researchers, and curriculum specialists who are attempting to foster improved science teaching and learning. Think of this as a "briefing document," a summary of information that will help hands- on advocates focus on the key issues and provide sufficient background to get practitioners started down a path of instructional reform. This is not a resource book of activities or instructional guidelines, nor does this document provide a curriculum framework. It is intended as a ready reference for anyone who has to make the case for an activity-based, inquiry- oriented, hands-on approach to teaching and learning in the science classroom.
Please note, the entries identified throughout this book as "Teacher Responses" and "Developer Thoughts" are direct quotes. Because the sections consist entirely of quotations, we have omitted quotation marks. Any modifications we have made to quotations are indicated with square brackets [like this].
The authors view this work as the beginning of a professional dialog that will lead to revised editions of this document and a heightened awareness of the issues associated with hands-on approaches to science teaching. Readers are invited to participate in the dialog by submitting their answers to the questions posed here or by suggesting additional questions that need answering. We will carefully consider each submission for inclusion in the next edition of this publication, to be developed and released as funding becomes available. All contributions will be appropriately acknowledged. DLH & PR
Posted to the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory's
Pathways to School Improvement Internet server on June 30, 1995.