Interdisciplinary core ideas and contexts in biology lessons of primary school (02/2014- ...)
LMU: Prof. Dr. Birgit J. Neuhaus, Nina Kümpel
Our classrooms, with their immense focus on teaching discrete-unrelated facts have always remained a big challenge for educationists and researchers who endeavor to redesign biology and also science instruction in a way that facilitates in-depth learning of content and concepts (Wadouh, Liu, Sandmann, & Neuhaus, 2013). In recent times, education-researchers have time and again recommended the use of interdisciplinary core ideas that not only help interconnect knowledge but also facilitate deeper understanding of key concepts (Schmiemann, Linsner, Wenning, & Sandmann, 2012). So far, there are only a few empirical studies that have investigated the influence of integrating interdisciplinary core ideas (in lessons) on students’ outcomes. However, there are almost no studies that have explored the way interdisciplinary core ideas could be integrated in Bavarian primary school curriculum. In this regard, an in-depth study of Bavarian primary school curriculum provides for the scope of integrating some of the important interdisciplinary core ideas (“structure and function”, “system” and “development”) in every day classroom teaching. Thus, lessons oriented towards interdisciplinary core ideas are not only a practical possibility at the primary school level but can also help build a foreground to prepare students for meaningful learning at later stages (in higher education).
Another problem being faced by educationists and researchers in biology is that facts and content taught in classrooms has very less applicability in new problem situations. That is to say, generally students cannot apply their knowledge for solving problems in newer contexts - situations. Thus, students report very less interest in learning content related to biology (Baumert et al., 2001; Hoffmann, Häußler & Lehrke, 1998). To this end, education researchers offer that science classrooms should teach content in the back-drop of real life contexts.
Since 1980s contexts are being implemented successfully in chemistry (Bennett, Lubben, & Hogarth, 2006) and have shown to improve student interest and motivation towards learning chemistry. However, there are very few studies that have studied the impact of integrating contexts in biological lessons. Sennebogen (2012) provided some empirical evidences regarding the positive influence of context on students ‘situational interest’ and ‘performance gain’ in secondary biology classrooms. Although, no studies are yet found, that show a similar impact on students at primary school level.
Hence, the proposed dissertation-project will endeavor to verify if 1) interdisciplinary core ideas - “Bildungsstandards” can be implemented in primary schools 2) students in primary schools can understand-appreciate the concept of interdisciplinary core ideas and also 3) lessons structured according to the interdisciplinary core ideas and context-based problem oriented teaching show any impact on student interest and other outcomes.