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Paper: Improving Learners’ Research Process Skills
Volume: 436, Learning from Inquiry In Practice
Page: 82
Authors: Quan, T. K.; Hunter, L.; Kluger-Bell, B.; Seagroves, S.
Abstract: The Professional Development Program (PDP) supports participants as they design inquiry activities that help learners improve their research process skills. These skills include the cognitive or reasoning skills that scientists and engineers use while doing research; for example, making a testable hypothesis, coordinating results from multiple experiments, or identifying and evaluating tradeoffs. Past work in the PDP indicated that additional support was needed to help participants design instructional activities that would teach these important skills. A new workshop was therefore developed for the 2009 PDP cycle, entitled “Improving Learners’ Process Skills.” In this workshop, participants worked in small groups to define specific science and engineering skills found in four past PDP activity designs. Participants distinguished between “simple tasks” and “authentic inquiry” activities that learners could perform as demonstration of the skill. Through this new workshop, participants were able to explicitly discuss ways in which individual process skills are unique or inter-related. In addition, by identifying a “simple task,” participants were able to pinpoint areas in which their own designs could be improved to better focus on authentic inquiry tasks. In 2010, the workshop was slightly modified to help participants reconnect the research process skills with the activity content. In addition, the idea of using generic and context-specific scaffolds was also introduced. To make the participants feel like they were contributing to the PDP community, four activity designs actively being worked on in the 2010 cycle were used. Based on participant feedback, this “Improving Learners’ Process Skills” workshop should be strongly considered for future returning participants.
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