The Inclusion of a Student Voice in Teacher Professional Learning to Create Relevance in Science Education
Keywords:teacher's professional learning, student's voice, science education
AbstractStudents' perceptions of a lack of relevance in science and technology (S&T) education have been reported in research and policies for a long time. In many countries this is a problem that is not decreasing despite numerous measures to address it. In the study presented here a new approach to the problem was developed and empirically tested. The study targets the theoretical development of "teacher professional learning". Key elements of the approach include distributed leadership with adaptive expertise, boundary spanners to relate leadership structures to student learning, and facilitators to initiate such work. Five Swedish municipalities were involved in this approach, from a model where 10 core concepts were adapted to the Swedish educational context and incorporated in a professional learning model. The model suggests including two initial steps to create a professional learning cycle, e.g. students' and teachers' needs together with leadership structures. The empirical evidence comes from pre-studies investigating these two initial steps with a qualitative research design. The results are compiled in five themes showing that learners, teachers and school leaders perceive S&T education to be 'special' and describe progression, organization and beneficial changes. Facilitators were found to be important and organizational relationships were described and discussed. Differences in the nature of the relevance problem between students and their teachers and in different parts of the educational system were also identified, which have consequences for the progression in a professional learning cycle. This is discussed and pointed out as important for future research. Overall, the results indicate that published notions regarding teacher professional learning and students' perceptions of S&T education, can be combined to formulate a robust new approach to address the relevance problem.
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