Context-based education

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					Context-based education

      Dr John Oversby
    Institute of Education
The University of Reading, UK

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•   Features and constraints
•   Claims
•   Research evidence
•   What next?

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           Features and constraints

• Bolt-on or context initiated programmes
    – STS infusion into science course
    – Science infusion into STS course
•   Constraint of academic validation
•   Constraint of academic expert knowledge
•   Constraint of methods of teaching and learning
•   Constraints of valid and reliable methods of

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  Context-based courses in chemistry

• School-based examples
  – Salters approach (York)
  – ChemCom (ACS)
• University-based
  – Chemistry in Context (ACS)
  – ChemConnections (ChemLinks Coalition)

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                   School courses
• Salters approach (York)
   –   Built on e.g. food, clothing, transport
   –   Building materials relates to chemical structure
   –   How to include Periodic Table was great challenge!
   –   16+ course – ‘Colour by design’ through work of art
       restorers and dye manufacturers
• ChemCom approach (ACS) (16+)
   – water supplies,food and health contexts
   – leaves out orbitals, kinetics and equilibrium constant
     calculations. Knowledge is on a need-to-know basis.

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              University courses

• Chemistry in Context
  – Similar to school-based ChemCom
• ChemConnections modular course
  – separate traditional and STS courses
  – ‘Earth, Air, Fire and Air’ looks at car airbags and
    includes gas laws, kinetic theory and chemical

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• Increased motivation
• Increased subject knowledge
• Increased transferable skills

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    Research evidence for increased
• Ramsden (1992 and 1997) on Salters (14+)
  – Students cited practical work more enjoyable in
    traditional lessons
  – Students on Salters cited a wide range of activities and
    relation to everyday life
  – Salters seemed to have no effect on career choice!
• Key (1998)
  – Students are required to visit a local chemistry industry
  – More positive view of industry and less stereotypical.

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    Research evidence for increased
          subject knowledge
• Barker and Millar (2000)
   – No significant differences between traditional and
• Ramsden (1997) and Barber (2000)
   – No significant differences between traditional and
• Gutwill-Wise (2001) ChemConnections
   – Context-based is better than traditional

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          Other research evidence

• Transferable skills have not been investigated
• Teachers’ Professional Development has not been
  well investigated
   – Dlami, Lubben & Campbell (1994) in Swaziland –
     teachers move from initial reluctance to pride of
     ownership in project.
   – Borgford (1995) Salters – significant change in teachers
     practice based on guidance materials
   – Tal et al (2001) – changes in teachers practice in Israel

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                   What next

• Need for more research on areas mentioned
• Need for Professional Development in teaching

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• External
• Self-assessment

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           External assessment

• UK Royal Society of Chemistry assessed entry
  subject knowledge for undergraduate courses.
• Questions were very traditional
• Unlikely to have rapid change in assessment

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                   Self assessment
• Cognitive assessment
   – Analytical or in context
   – Effectively recall or higher level thinking
• Process assessment e.g. investigation
• Affective assessment
   –   What counts as affective
   –   Reliability and validity
   –   Accreditation
   –   Metacognition

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     Affective self assessment – what
• Confidence                          • Commitment to group
• Seeker of help                        progress in contrast to
• Commitment to task                    individual progress
  completion                          • Commitment to ideas
• Brain-storming methods in             from outside science e.g.
  an open way                           political
• Respect for the views of            • Self-esteem
  others                              • Anxiety

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 Affective self assessment – reliability
              and validity
• Need to generate success criteria and come to
  common conclusions about required evidence
• Need to explain elements of self-assessment to
  demonstrate validity
• Comparison of a variety of elements to triangulate
  evidence to increase reliability

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        Affective self assessment -
• Output must count for something in award
• Output must be open to moderation
• Relationship between self assessment and credit
  value must be transparent and as objective as

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        Affective self assessment -
• Formative evaluation of both cognitive and
  affective should have a synergistic effect in a
  feedback loop.
• Danger of negative feedback!
• Can promote reflective thinking in a wide variety
  of respects.

• Example of spreadsheet self-assessment to be
  provided here in the lecture

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