Relationship between managing teamwork with teachers and building self confidence for science learning among children
The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors and strategies which enable pupils to focus their minds on the conceptual issue being taught, and how teachers may build and maintain the pupils' self confidence in articulating scientific ideas. The study focused on the work of the science department in a boys' 12 to 16 comprehensive school in Southern England, where the researcher was Head of the Faculty of Science and Technology. This was an ethnographic case study where the researcher was a participant observer in action research. The research focused on national curriculum years 8 and 9 and involved three methodological stages; the exploratory, field operational and explanatory search. The exploratory stage involved the development of the Responsive Teaching Model and the writing and implementation, by all the science teachers, of schemes of work which bore this model in mind. Formal data collection involved; lesson observations, pupil questionnaire, analysis of end of year 8 pupil profiles and interviews with the science staff and the school's Special Needs coordinator. The field operational stage involved a science teacher working with an advisory teacher in the production, implementation and reviewing of a module of work. This stage also involved the detailed observation of science lessons using an observation schedule developed from the initial findings from the other instruments. During the period of the research, the GCSE examination results improved considerably and were found to be significantly higher than may have been expected. The explanatory search stage revealed that successful lessons were associated with science teachers orchestrating a number of interrelated characteristics: the teachers' planning, individual pupils' conceptual understanding, the group social behaviour of the children and the interpersonal relations. It appears that the interpersonal relations have a central role to play in enabling effective learning. There was evidence that the manner in which whole class and small group work is organised could facilitate effective learning. The way in which the science department had worked together as a team had encouraged teachers to reflect on their practice, and seemed to enable teachers to adapt their teaching styles and strategies. The reflectivity itself, and the fact that it was research based was felt to be particularly significant. This study raises further issues related to; the initial training of teachers, the in-service training of established teachers and the possible advantages of undertaking action research in schools.