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Using NEMP to inform the teaching of science skills

Rosemary Hipkins and Natasha Kenneally

This research builds on an earlier NEMP probe study which found that many teachers do not appear to actively teach students the key objectives of the "Developing Scientific Skills and Attitudes" strand of Science in the New Zealand Curriculum (Gilmore, 2001). The project sought to develop rich descriptions of children’s investigative actions, and to analyse these findings in the light of research literature that describes children’s actual and potential investigative skills development. The analyses generated were then used to inform the design of teaching strategies that could help children to actively develop the skills specified in SNZC.

Two hundred video-taped episodes of Year 4 or Year 8 groups of children carrying out three different NEMP science investigation tasks were closely observed and subsequently analysed with reference to the review of the research literature. (The tasks were Truck Track, Ball Bounce, and Emptying Rate.) The strategies identified as a result of the analysis for the active teaching of investigative skills were tried out and critiqued by 24 primary teachers during after-school focus group sessions in three different areas.

The researchers found that children’s actions are influenced in subtle ways by teachers’ instructions and dialogue. However, there is a range of relatively simple measures that NEMP assessors, and indeed all primary teachers, can undertake to help children actively learn the skills of investigating scientifically.

Year published: 
Publication type: 
Research report
NZCER, NEMP, Ministry of Education
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