Educational researchers at the University of Tartu awarded Science Magazine's Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction
The ecology learning module whose development was headed by UT researchers was awarded Science Magazine's international Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction, which aims to recognise innovative and outstanding study materials. The award serves to reaffirm the right direction of the teacher training at the University of Tartu in integrating educational technology and practical instruction, as well as developing innovative teaching methods through international cooperation.
The award was won in connection to the SCY (Science Created by You) project within the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission, led by the University of Twente. The prize-winning ecology learning module was developed by a team of Estonian, Dutch, Cypriot, Norwegian and French researchers and teachers that participated in the project, and it was led by Margus Pedaste, Professor of Technology Education at the University of Tartu. The overall manager of the project in the UT was docent Tago Sarapuu.
The project involved the development of SCY-Lab, an environment for inquiry-based instruction, which makes it possible to study natural sciences by means of modern technology. "In the ecology mission of the study environment, the students learn of the functioning of ecosystems. That involves the collection of actual data on, for example, the activity of photosynthesis by means of mobile measuring devices. The SCY-Lab environment leads students to define problems, formulate hypotheses, plan and conduct experiments and analyse the results in accordance with scenarios based on educational research," says Pedaste of the environment, adding: "The environment supports collaborative learning and self-regulation skills, which are considered highly important today. Scientific studies conducted in Estonian schools show that using the ecology mission also improves the students' research abilities."
"We were motivated to submit the ecology mission to the Science Magazine's competition for inquiry-based instruction modules by the result we obtained in the course of four years; it was innovative both technically and content-wise and could be used widely all over the world," Pedaste says. Inquiry-based instruction and ecology have an important place in the curricula of all the countries participating in the project, as well as in the US, for example. In connection to the prize received by the ecology module, Science Magazine will also publish a related article, titled Investigating Ecosystems as a Blended Learning Experience.
Science Magazine's Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction was established in order to recognise outstanding study materials whose use in general education institutions makes it possible for students to obtain university course-level knowledge. The study materials aim to provide an innovative alternative to fact-learning, encouraging young people to be curious as to the way the world functions. The inquiry-based learning module and the developed study materials are designed to provide the students with an understanding of the essence of science, as well as valuable experience in conducting scientific research and evaluating the existing scientific achievements.
For more details, please read Science Magazine's interview with Margus Pedaste about the winning project.
Further information: Margus Pedaste, Professor of Technology Education at the University of Tartu, tel: 5156095, 7376021, email: margus.pedaste [ät] ut.ee.