Summary in English

Within the frame of the research project ARK&APP (2013–2015) two quantitative surveys and 12 qualitative case studies are conducted. The present case study is the second of three case studies in science education. Three research questions have guided the study:

  • How are educational resources used in teaching practices?
  • How do educational resources foster engagement and learning among students?
  • What role do various educational resources play in interactions between students and their teacher?

In this study we observed a lower secondary school class of 74 students (aged 15 - 16) and their teacher in a Science project “Genes and Inheritance”. The project took 11 lessons spread over 4 weeks in February and March 2014. The teacher and the researchers planned it as a collaborative effort, however, it was the teacher who carried full responsibility for the execution of the project. The teacher had his freedom in choosing learning resources, teaching methods and finalising the lessons plans. Four researchers completed the observations during the project. The data included pre- and post-tests evaluating students’ learning outcomes, observations and video recordings of various forms of classroom interactions as well as the interviews with the students of the focus group and the teacher. With this setup, we were able to investigate the impact of the used learning resources on students’ engagement and their learning outcomes, as well as to explore the role of various educational resources in the interactions between the students and the teacher.

The analysis of the data material reflects a broad variety of the learning resources used, which contrasts earlier research claiming that textbooks dominate classroom teaching in science education. Hence, the results of the present study point in the direction of more recent research which indicates that textbooks are used as structuring elements within instruction, but most often in combination with other learning resources – also digital. Another finding is that the time spent on work with various learning resources was evenly shared between analogue (e.g. textbooks, task sheets and whiteboards) and digital learning resources (e.g. laptops, iPads, interactive whiteboards and PowerPoints). The third finding is that the working methods varied significantly with even distribution between class-, group and individual activities. Even though the combination of different methods confirms a familiar pattern of teaching in Norwegian classrooms, it becomes complex and nuanced when we examine the actual use of various learning resources. Our observational data displays how the teacher and the students alternated between different learning materials and resources when employing various working methods. The analysis of pre- and posttests shows that the students had high learning gains from the science project.

The empirical findings provide a basis for emphasizing and discussing aspects related to teaching and learning with multiple learning materials and resources. Firstly, the continuous and seamless shifting between various learning resources and working methods show the importance of designing learning sequences where students are given an opportunity to express their conceptual understanding developed through group work and in whole class interactions. Such whole class interactions represent arenas for the teacher and the students to shape, deepen and consolidate students' conceptual understanding. Secondly, the whole spectrum of learning resources and working methods show the importance of various visual forms of knowledge representation in building of students’ understanding of complex concepts and phenomena. In this case study the variety of visual representations contributed to a high level of participation and engagement among the students. Thirdly, this case study shows how the use of varied learning resources and working methods provides the opportunity for students to exceed authoritative knowledge or facts, which are often presented in textbooks. This opportunity may surface if the teacher is able to incorporate students’ experience when they come across contradicting explanations and views in Science. Finally, this study contributes to conceptualizing of classroom management in ICT-rich environments, and emphasizes the importance of a teacher in structuring students’ learning process as well as supporting students in their development of conceptual understanding within a complex subject domain.

Published May 11, 2015 5:08 PM - Last modified May 11, 2015 5:08 PM