Partnership For Change Towards Science as Inquiry in Elementary Science Classrooms: Collective Responsibility of Teachers and Students

Project Number
OER 20/10 TAL

Project Duration
April 2011 - February 2014


In Singapore, the science inquiry efforts received a renewed emphasis in 2008 when it was identified as the central and guiding philosophy and pedagogy of science education reforms. With this change, science teachers and science education researchers in Singapore faced issues of differing understandings of inquiry (Kim, Tan, & Talaue, 2010). While research literature is rich in information about problems and issues with science inquiry globally, it has been known that education is context-based and has unique norms in different societies and cultures. Existing models of science inquiry gives little attention to learning by listening attentively, a characteristic trait of good science and also a feature that is typically associated with Asian science classrooms. Thus, it is critical to understand the perceptions and difficulties teachers in Singapore experience in order to develop effective classroom practices of inquiry-based teaching. Research into the various aspects of science inquiry classrooms and practices have been actively carried out in Singapore in the past three years (e.g., Kim, Tan, & Talaue, 2010; Lee, in press; Poon, 2010; Poon, Lee, Tan, Lim, in press; Tan, Wong, Tan, & Lee, 2009). Research in science inquiry has delved into difficulties faced by teachers in implementation (Crawford, 2000; Kim & Tan, 2010) but little has been said about platforms for teachers and students to work collectively to overcome the hurdles presented by science inquiry in classrooms. We argue here for the need to privilege the position occupied by differences and contradictions in order to progress in our understanding of teachers' reluctance to practice science inquiry. We posit the timely adoption of a more social view of inquiry by involving learners and teachers of science in coconstructing science inquiry by participating in dialogue about inquiry - experiencing, talking and listening to each other's experiences in the science classroom. Cogenerative dialogue, which has been applied and studied extensively by Tobin and Roth (2005), offers a platform for dialogue among participants of a social system (in this case, the science classroom) to come together to identify contradictions as collective, seeking clarifications and mapping out ways to overcome the contradictions so that teaching and learning can be improved. By looking at differences between individuals as a resource (Tobin, in press), cogenerative dialogue then becomes an ideal methodology for classroom research that takes account of participants' similarities and differences in social experiences.

Research Themes

Funding Source

Related Links
ReEd Vol. 16 2014: Co-constructing the Science Classroom
NIE Research Briefs No.15-010: Towards More Meaningful Science Inquiry for Primary Pupils

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