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 third of three case studies in Science, and the ninth of 12 case studies in total. The teachers’ selection and use of learning resources, as well as the students’ engagement with these learning resources are of analytic interest in the ARK&APP project. The case reported on here took place during spring 2015 on level 5 at a primary school located in Eastern Norway. 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 case study we follow one teacher and a class of eighteen 5th grade students (aged 10−11) in a project related to “The human body and health”. The project took place during eight school hours over two weeks. All participating students had an individual iPad at their disposal, and the iPad figured as a central element in the teaching we observed. Data collected include pre- and post-tests evaluating students’ learning outcomes, observations and video recordings of various forms of classroom interactions as well as interviews with focus group students, their teacher and the school’s principal. With this setup, we were able to investigate the impact which the learning resources in use had on students’ engagement, and on their learning outcome. In addition, we were able to explore the role of various educational resources in the interactions between the students and the teacher.
One of the most prominent characteristics of the current case study is the teacher’s clear and structured instruction-oriented classroom management. Each of the four thematic parts in the project opened with a whole-class activity where learning goals and activation of students’ prior knowledge were in focus. Then followed individual activities where the students prepared to contribute in group-work sessions. Each thematic period was finalized with a whole-class activity focused on consolidation and reflection. This organization clearly structured the students’ work and conceptual reflection, and created clear and predictable learning conditions for the students. Our observations and analyses show high student engagement and motivation throughout the project. The analysis of the pre- and posttest results indicate that the students had a high learning outcome.
In the lessons we observed, a broad variety of learning resources were used across learning activities. In whole-class settings the digital whiteboard was in frequent use, as it created a shared focus when the teacher provided information about learning goals, activities and information resources. Furthermore, the digital whiteboard was used as a resource in whole class dialogues with focus on consolidation and reflection. During individual- and group work the iPads were frequently used. Apps such as “Padlet”, “Pages”, “Ithoughts”, “Virtual heart”, “Keynote”, QR-code reader and “Puffin”, were central resources, along with the digital learning resources “TV2 skole”, “Kanal S” (Gyldendal Norsk Forlag) and “Gaia 5 smartbok” (Gyldendal Undervisning).
One of the main concerns of the current study is the significance of various forms of support provided by the teacher within the various science learning activities. Two central forms of support provided where what we here refer to as procedural and conceptual support. Procedural support concerns helping students to regulate their work processes. Conceptual support implies an explicit focus on supporting students’ conceptual understanding by for instance probing cued questions (i.e. “eliciting”, Mercer, 2004), or providing explanations and elaborations of scientific concepts and processes.
Our analyses of the teacher-student dialogues within the various learning activities show that the teacher both provided procedural and conceptual support, but that the main emphasis was on procedural support focused on making the students capable of working independently with the digital learning resources, both in individual and group work settings. The classroom observations showed that most students worked independently both when engaged in individual- and in group-based activities. However, the analyses also shows that the students occasionally struggled with their conceptual understanding especially when engaging with the digital learning resources, as well as struggling with achieving exploratory and understanding oriented dialogues in group work settings. These findings are discussed in relation to the challenges teachers often meet in inquiry oriented ICT-supported learning settings; the need for balancing support in enabling students being capable of regulating their learning processes along with working independently, and providing pivotal conceptual support.