|Responding to “Inquiry and Practice” in the 2019 Curriculum Guidelines: A Dual-Practice Approach to a Teaching Practice Course in Teacher Education
|inquiry | phenomenon-based learning | teacher professional competence | the 2019 curriculum guidelines | trans-disciplinary
|Journal of Research in Education Sciences
In 2019, the Ministry of Education of Taiwan introduced new guidelines for the 12-year basic education. The 2019 curriculum guidelines emphasize the importance of inquiry and practice and transdisciplinarity. Student teachers are expected to develop collaborative skills across disciplines; integrate curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and acquire the ability to design and implement inquiry-based courses. However, few empirical studies have examined how teacher education programs have adapted to the new curriculum guidelines or whether adaptation to the guidelines has been effective. In Finland, phenomenon-based learning has emerged as a promising approach, which aligns with the objectives of the 2019 guidelines. This study incorporated phenomenon-based learning into the design and implementation of a dual-practice approach to a teaching practice course. The first part of the course involved an inquiry project to prepare student teachers for the second part of the course, which involved designing and implementing a 5-week microcourse called Inquiry 101 for high school students. The present study examined whether this teaching practice course enhanced student teachers’ transdisciplinary inquiry skills and their ability to integrate curriculum, instruction, and assessment. 2. Literature Review Inquiry-based learning has been promoted across disciplines (Chang et al., 2011; Selby, 2006; VanSledright, 2010; Wineburg, 2001). However, previous studies have shown that in-service teachers might not be adequately prepared for this new pedagogical approach and have highlighted the importance of integrating the new approach into teacher education (Khalaf & Zin, 2018; Levy et al., 2013). Teachers in Taiwan often face greater challenges than those in other countries; they are expected to teach and implement inquiry in a transdisciplinary setting according to the 2019 guidelines. As a curriculum reform, Finland recently introduced phenomenon-based learning, which aims to enhance students’ motivation through their exploration of real-life phenomena rather than by focusing their attention on subject-specific knowledge (Halinen et al., 2015; Lonka et al., 2018). This approach stimulates students’ curiosity and intrinsic motivation and enhances their problem-solving skills. Additionally, it promotes transdisciplinary integration and increases the usefulness of knowledge acquired in class. Integrating phenomenon-based learning into inquiry, which is called the interrogative model, has been developed; it involves the processes of scientific inquiry and knowledge acquisition as “a question and answer process” (Hakkarainen & Sintonen, 2002). Students are guided to differentiate between explanation-seeking and fact-seeking questions. Explanation-seeking questions, such as why and how questions, constitute the core of inquiry-based learning; fact-seeking questions, which primarily consist of who, where, when, which, and what questions, provide the foundation for higher-level explanation-seeking inquiry. In general, inquiry-based learning involves four major phases: (1) identifying a question of interest, (2) formulating a hypothesis, (3) verifying the hypothesis, and (4) drawing a conclusion. These inquiry processes are not linear in practice; they are usually iterative and require revisions. Therefore, support or scaffolding is required to guide students through the inquiry processes, so that they can effectively learn and conduct knowledge construction (Hakkarainen, 1998, 2003; Hakkarainen & Sintonen, 2002; Rahikainen et al., 2001). 3. Methods The present study evaluated the effectiveness of a dual-practice approach in a teacher education course, which focused on developing preservice teachers’ ability to design and implement transdisciplinary inquiry. This approach was guided by the belief that preservice teachers will teach as they learn (Moilanen, 2015). In the first part of the course, preservice teachers were required to work collaboratively on an inquiry project for 4 weeks. They selected a phenomenon of interest from real life, formulated and verified hypotheses, drew conclusions, and completed a 3000-word report. The purpose of this practice was to familiarize the preservice teachers with phenomenon-based inquiry. In the second part of the course, they designed and implemented a 5-week microcourse called Inquiry 101 for high school students. This study recruited 14 preservice teachers participating in a teaching practice course at a research-intensive university in Taiwan. The Inquiry 101 course was offered in partnership with a local high school. Four classes, with a total of 94 tenth-grade students, were enrolled. Each class had 22-24 students and was taught by a group of three or four preservice teachers. After the completion of the course, feedback sessions were conducted with the principal and mentors from the participating high school along with the preservice teachers. The feedback enabled the preservice teachers to reflect on their teaching and learning processes. Participation in the study was entirely voluntary. Informed consent was obtained from all participants. 4. Results The study examined whether a dual-practice approach was effective for improving preservice teachers’ transdisciplinary inquiry skills and their ability to integrate curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Analysis of the inquiry reports revealed that although the preservice teachers were able to propose meaningful and clear research questions, they struggled with formulating and verifying hypotheses. Further analysis of the pre-and post tests revealed that the first part of the course consolidated the preservice teachers’ understanding of inquiry processes; it also enhanced their awareness of formulating hypotheses and using hypotheses to guide reference search. Analysis of reflection journals indicated that the phenomenon-based microcourse enhanced the ability of the preservice teachers to integrate curriculum, instruction, and assessment in a transdisciplinary manner. These findings were supported by the analysis results of lesson plans, video recordings of the classes, and self-evaluations by the preservice teachers. Self-evaluations by both the preservice teachers and students demonstrated that the course improve their ability to differentiate between basic and higher-level questions and to identify questions worth inquiry. 5. Concluding Remarks The teaching practice course examined in this study is expected to serve as a capstone course that helps preservice teachers integrate their learning and inquiry experiences in teacher education. The present study found that the experiences of preservice teachers varied greatly. The findings suggest that a dual-practice approach may be a practical way of preparing preservice teachers for the 2019 curriculum guidelines, which emphasize inquiry and practice to achieve curriculum integration. The participation of preservice teachers in inquiry projects would familiarize them with phenomenon-based inquiry and equip them with the skills needed to design and implement inquiry-based courses. Additionally, microcourses may enhance their ability to integrate curriculum, instruction, and assessment in a transdisciplinary setting.
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