How we use contexts and the part we expect them to play in conceptual learning and in engagement with learning may need to be rethought, Rosemary Hipkins explained at the Science Education Research Symposium (SERS) in November 2009.
Is there actually a problem with keeping students engaged? How do we know? (What is our evidence?) What do we do about it? Why should we change? (What could happen if we don’t?) Anyway what do we actually mean by engagement? Discussing these issues and questions over the course of the two days of SERS brought up a range of related questions: What do we mean by the “nature of science”? What difference (if any) should it make to teaching and learning in science? What do good explanations look like? What are our expectations of what students will gain from their science learning? Listening to the debate flow back and forth, I pondered on the many ways we could answer such questions, depending on what we actually mean by terms such as engagement and explanation.
The full journal article published in: New Zealand Science Teacher, 123, 37-40