RESEARCHING PRACTICE AND COLLABORATION AS A MEANS TO PROMOTE INQUIRY IN SCIENCE TEACHING
Authors: Monica Baptista
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We live in a very complex and ever changing society, which requires from its citizens a continuous involvement in decision-making and continuous learning. The issues that were exclusive experts’ responsibility today are brought to public, thus requiring the society active participation. Hence it is crucial that each citizen is informed, in order to be critical and adopt an intervening and sustained stance. Therefore, improving scientific literacy is a current concern of our times, considering the overall contradictory scenario. On the whole, it is recognized that fully participating in today’s society requires an understanding of science and scientific activity. Nevertheless, several studies show that scientific literacy levels, within the general population and among students, are not as high as would be expectable. So, to improve students’ scientific literacy levels is the main goal of science education research. But what learning situations can be created to improve students’ scientific literacy? Recently, a number of studies pointed out inquiry as one possible learning situation. But then the main question is: why inquiry? Inquiry emphasizes the development of scientific and procedural knowledge, as well as other relevant competencies (e. g. reasoning, communication and attitudes) and puts students in the centre of their learning. It engages students in different situations, namely in identifying problems, formulating hypotheses, researching in books and other sources of information, planning investigations, collecting and interpreting data, reviewing what they know about the experience, connecting explanations to scientific knowledge, reporting results, arguing with basis on evidences, and communicating (NRC, 2000) – all crucial competencies to foster scientific literacy.