Leonie J Rennie

Leonie J Rennie
Curtin University

About

162
Publications
53,944
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Introduction
Leonie J Rennie is Professor Emerita in the School of Education at Curtin University. Leonie's research focuses on the learning of science and technology in, and outside of, school. She has a particular interest in integrated science curriculum and learning because that is how science works in the real world.

Publications

Publications (162)
Article
A model for subject-related affect and its interactive relationship with achievement is presented as an extension of Bloom's theory of school learning. Using the subject of science in the first year of high school, the model is tested in two schools with contrasting learning environments. By employing a longitudinal design the research examines how...
Article
Full-text available
This paper describes how individualized photobooks were used to support 3- and 4-year-old children in demonstrating their science learning and developing their science identity through participation in a science outreach program. Photographic images stimulate children’s visual thinking and allow them to provide explanations of complex concepts usin...
Article
The book Controversy in Science Museums: Re-imagining Exhibition Spaces and Practice by Erminia Pedretti and Ana Maria Navas Iannini presents a masterful analysis of the nature of science museums and their exhibitions. Critical exhibitions challenge how science is represented traditionally and can be transformative by inspiring visitors to grapple...
Chapter
This chapter describes how effective integrated curricula with an out-of-school component encourage students to develop their STEM understanding and skills in at least three ways. First, by testing the disciplinary knowledge they have learned in real-world, authentic contexts, students come to appreciate that good understanding requires balance; th...
Article
The Children’s Engagement Behaviour Framework was developed to describe young children’s engagement with science exhibits and how their behaviour is related to learning about the exhibits. The Framework was synthesised from frameworks in research literature related to family learning and the nature of play. It describes three categories of epistemi...
Chapter
This chapter addresses the importance of understanding certainty and uncertainty in relation to scientific evidence, risk in decision-making, and trust in science and scientists. Following a museum-based story about certainty and scientific evidence, two significant international events are described to demonstrate the consequences of failing to un...
Article
Science centers, zoos, and aquariums share the common goal of engaging visitors in learning about the physical and natural world. Exhibits in zoos and aquariums, however, focus primarily on living organisms. Interactive exhibits are less common in these institutions and this differentiates the way visitors engage with exhibits from that of a typica...
Book
While much has been written about science education from pre-K through to postgraduate study, interaction with science and technology does not stop when schooling ends. Moving beyond scholarship on conventional education, this book extends the research and provides an original in-depth look at adult and lifelong learning in science and technology....
Article
This paper introduces a hierarchical model of children’s (3- to 8-year olds) research participation rights that builds on work by Roger Hart and integrates key participation rights drawn from UNCRC Article 12: information, understanding, voice, and influence. It provides insight into the various levels of information that can be provided to childre...
Article
YOUNG CHILDREN’S RIGHTS, power and agency in research are dependent on adult agendas that are enmeshed throughout every research project. This paper presents a Rights-Based Research Ethics and Participation Planning Framework that defines and unpacks the components of a rights-based approach to early childhood research. This new framework supports...
Chapter
This chapter examines earthquakes as a real-world, socioscientific issue to explore how schools, school curricula, school systems, and communities respond to the learning opportunities created by a natural disaster in the local or global community. We identified some of the issues that determine how different countries deal with earthquake preparat...
Chapter
More than ever, we live in a connected, global community. In this chapter we argue for a STEM school education that helps students to explore and experience the kind of connectedness that reflects life outside of school. While many would agree that STEM curricula should be embedded in real-world, authentic contexts, much of the current policy and p...
Article
Ensuring young children’s competence to participate meaningfully in the informed consent process is a troublesome ethical issue. Evolving recognition of the influence of context and relationship, researcher perspective, and researcher responsibility to provide adequate support has advanced understanding of how this might be achieved. Here, we repor...
Chapter
Recognition of the importance of providing science-related experiences for young children has resulted in increased numbers of outreach programs aimed at a preschool audience. Early meaningful experiences of science have been found to promote children’s interest in science and enhance their self-belief that they can be effective science learners. H...
Chapter
Informal science education is, increasingly, focusing on the role of science in the adult world beyond school, for which lifelong learning about aspects of science is the educational goal. Science communication is concerned with the public awareness of science, which intersects with this goal in many ways. Given that they are both focused on enhanc...
Chapter
Science centers and museums use interactive exhibits to teach visitors about scientific concepts. Feher (1990) referred to such exhibits as “powerful learning tools”, and stated that “for the user they constitute an independent, teacher-free, learning device; and for the researcher they are the means for rendering explicit user’s conceptions and st...
Article
Full-text available
This article establishes the importance of “context”, a concept that underpins the academic contributions that John Falk and Lynn Dierking have made in building the field of informal/free-choice learning in science education. I consider, in turn, the individual contributions made by each of them prior to their seminal co-authored work, entitled The...
Chapter
This chapter is based on the premise that the science students learn at school should assist them to become scientifically and technologically literate citizens, irrespective of what their future career ambitions may be. This requires bridging the gap between school science and science as it is practised in, and impinges on, life outside of school....
Conference Paper
On Monday 9 March 2015 at 9:26am something extraordinary happened. Through a clear blue sky a fireball streaked and exploded over the skies of Perth WA. Media coverage of the Perth Daytime Fireball was immediate. Dash-cam videos were aired, witness accounts were on every radio station and the Fireballs in the Sky team seized the opportunity to enga...
Article
Full-text available
Ideas about ethical research with young children are evolving at a rapid rate. Not only can young children participate in the informed consent process, but researchers now also recognize that the process must be meaningful for them. As part of a larger study, this article reviews children's rights and informed consent literature as the foundation f...
Article
The intentions of the science curriculum are very often constrained by the forms of student learning that are required by, or are currently available within, the system of education. Furthermore, little attention is given to developing new approaches to assessment that would encourage these good intentions. In this chapter, we argue that achieving...
Article
As the third millennium progresses, we are faced with increasing pressures relating to climate change and the sustainability of life on Earth. Concerned citizens are realizing that the responsibility to respond is both local and global. There is an increasing sense of urgency about the need to reform the processes of schooling and curriculum to bet...
Article
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A concern commonly raised in literature and in media relates to the declining proportions of students who enter and remain in the ‘science pipeline’, and whether many countries, including Australia and New Zealand, have enough budding scientists to fill research and industry positions in the coming years. In addition, there is concern that insuffic...
Chapter
On the one hand, it is argued that disciplinary approaches to curriculum that include the teaching and learning of traditional, sharply defined subjects, such as physics, chemistry, biology and algebra, provide specialised knowledge that enables rigorous explanation of focused aspects of the world. On the other hand, integrated approaches to school...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Evaluation of the Scientists in Schools program managed by the CSIRO, Australia
Chapter
In this chapter we explore the activities and the learning outcomes of young children who visited a science centre and interacted with a technology exhibit, the Mitey Quarry,which was part of a larger, travelling exhibition called Mitey Science. The Mitey Quarry exhibit was developed for children of 3 to 8 years of age and designed to encourage chi...
Article
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For almost a half century David F. Treagust has been an exemplary science educator who has contributed through his dedication and commitments to students, curriculum development and collaboration with teachers, and cutting edge research in science education that has impacted the field globally, nationally and locally. A hallmark of his outstanding...
Article
The central thesis of this paper is that the learning of science in integrated curricular contexts requires a broader theoretical framework than is typically adopted by researchers and teachers. The common practice of interpreting science learning in terms of conceptual and procedural understandings in such contexts is problematized through an exam...
Chapter
Full-text available
Today arguments mount for a science education that students find engaging. Thus attention has turned towards curriculum that places more focus on the world outside school, on the reasonable view that if students are to operate as informed citizens then the science curriculum they experience at school has to be sufficiently meaningful and relevant f...
Article
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Internationally there is concern that many science teachers do not address socioscientific issues (SSI) in their classrooms, particularly those that are controversial. However with increasingly complex, science-based dilemmas being presented to society, such as cloning, genetic screening, alternative fuels, reproductive technologies and vaccination...
Article
This article reports an investigation into the use of 12 Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Interactive Science Exhibits, borrowed by two community venues—a regional Hall of Fame and a metropolitan Library—as part of a science center's outreach program. Data were generated through interviews with venue staff, interviews with adults and surveys of children who vi...
Article
The culture of the middle years of schooling in Western Australia, as in many parts of the world, is predominantly discipline based. This paper focuses on exceptions to this norm by describing examples of integrated teaching of science, mathematics, and technology in seventh- to ninth-grade classrooms. Several different forms of integration were fo...
Article
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For many years, formal school science education has been criticised by students, teachers, parents and employers throughout the world. This article presents an argument that a greater collaboration between the formal and the informal sector could address some of these criticisms. The causes for concern about formal science education are summarised...
Article
Abstract Interactives—computers and other multimedia components, physical manipulatives (including whole-body and tabletop activities), and simulations—occur in all types of museums. There is considerable interest in the nature of the learning that happens when visitors use interactives. Museum professionals have enlisted constructivist theory to s...
Article
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This research used a survey and interviews to find out which science subjects 174 Year 10 students wanted to study in Year 11 and why. The results showed that the major reasons students wanted to study a particular science subject were because they were interested in the subject matter and because they felt they would achieve well in that subject....
Article
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In the 1980s, gender issues and a focus on girls’ and young women'sparticipation in SET was a significant issue in Australian education. Much has changed, however, with current policy paying scant attention to gender as an issue in SET. Léonie Rennie was a co-organiser of the Sixth International Gender and Science and Technology conference held in...
Article
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This research described in this paper firstly explored teachers' ideas about scientific literacy using an interview technique. Secondly, using a longitudinal case study approach, it examined how, following their participation in a professional development program, primary teachers presented opportunities during their science lessons for their stude...
Article
Scientists in Schools is a project funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations and managed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Education Section. This paper describes how the project is working to establish and maintain sustained and ongoing partnerships between s...
Article
In this study we examined curriculum integration in new ways by exploring the link between classroom context, the implementation of community-based, integrated science projects, and the subsequent student learning. The literature is inconsistent regarding the benefits of an integrated approach to curriculum. The research design was a multiple case...
Article
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In this Forum, we construct a history of the National Association for Research in Science Education (NARST) through the analysis of documents and through the personal perspectives of individuals. The history of NARST is inseparable from the biography of the individuals through whose lives it was produced and reproduced. The history of NARST is a li...
Article
This article reports research that sought to obtain visitors' personal perspectives about the specific outcomes of their visit to a science center. The specific focus was to gather and examine data relating to the science center's mission statement, which was to increase visitors' interest in, and awareness of, science and modern technology. The re...
Article
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In Australia, and internationally, integration is a widely promoted middle school curriculum reform strategy. Integration is claimed to engage students by providing opportunities to work on a few cross-disciplinary objectives, to apply knowledge across the subject boundaries and to work on tasks with meaning and relevance. While these curriculum go...
Article
This study investigated visitors’ and staff’s perceptions about the communication of science in a traditional natural history museum. The research examined the science-related outcomes for adult visitors and explored visitors’ and staff’s ideas of science and how it is portrayed at the museum. Data were collected by questionnaire and interview from...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigated visitors' and staff's perceptions about the communication of science in a traditional natural history museum. The research examined the science-related outcomes for adult visitors and explored visitors' and staff's ideas of science and how it is portrayed at the museum. Data were collected by questionnaire and interview from...
Article
This paper synthesizes findings from three studies to answer a general question: What do casual, adult visitors learn about science from their science‐related experiences in free‐choice settings? Specifically we asked whether there are changes in how people think about science in their daily lives, the nature and use of scientific knowledge, and it...
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Research over the last four decades has shown that the classroom learning environment impacts on students' cognitive and affective outcomes. Different approaches have been taken to measure students' perceptions of their learning environment, and this has led to the development of a large number of survey instruments. One such instrument is the Coll...
Article
The integration of science with other disciplines is a popular curriculum reform strategy. However, there is an absence of empirical research into how students understand and apply science concepts in integrated curricula settings. This case study focuses on three pairs of Year 9 students and their understanding and application of the concepts of e...
Article
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The purpose of this paper is to address issues that are raised about curriculum integration including the difficulty of implementation and concerns about student learning. The theoretical framework is underlain by the recognition of context, the needs of the students and the skills and knowledge of the teachers involved. The two schools that partic...
Article
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The Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) has directed two significant projects aimed at raising science awareness in the community. The ASTA Science Awareness-Raising project and the School Community Industry Partnerships in science (SCIps) projects were funded by the Commonwealth Department of Education Science and Training as an outcome...
Article
The computing learning environment has not often been equitable for female students. For example, the number of females enrolled in tertiary computing courses is low compared with males and their retention is poor. In recent years, New Zealand educational institutions have experienced an increased enrolment of new arrivals – students of diverse nat...
Article
The last decade has brought considerable progress in our understanding of how institutions like museums affect people's lives. However, there is still a great deal we do not know, and the research challenges ahead sometimes appear quite daunting. In this paper, we suggest that three characteristics of learning, its personal nature, that it is conte...
Article
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This article reports on students' decision making processes and sources of knowledge in an integrated teaching and learning setting. The study was conducted in a Year 9 classroom as students undertook a 10-week solar-powered boat project and were exposed to related concepts from science, technology and mathematics. Data collection involved detailed...
Book
Answering Back exposes the volatility of gender reform in many different schools and classrooms. It tells stories in close up and from below, allowing everyone to talk: anxious boys, naughty girls, cantankerous teachers, pontificating principals and feisty feminists. This book challenges many sacred ideas about gender reform in schools and will sur...
Article
Community learning of science and technology has undergone radical review in the past few years. This paper outlines changes that have taken place in research methods that have addressed the informal learning of science, particularly in the museum sector. We discuss the shift in perspective that has occurred over the past three decades in the publi...
Article
The question, "What constitutes a reasonable, useful agenda for research into science learning in out-of-school, free-choice environments?" has surfaced with increasing frequency over the past 10 years or so. One event that helped move the agenda forward was the National Science Foundation-funded conference, "Public Institutions for Personal Learni...
Article
In the spring of 1999, the Board of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST) established an Informal Science Education Ad Hoc committee, co-chaired by Lynn Dierking and John Falk. The Committee's task was to focus on the organization's positioning in regard to out-of-school science education. After 2 years of work, the commi...
Article
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The term gender-inclusive has become well known in Australian education since the late 1980s. In policy terms, it is associated with an education structured to value girls and women, their knowledge and experience, equally with that of boys and men. This paper reports an analysis of the gender-inclusivity of teaching and learning activities in a co...
Article
This research explores the perceptions, ideas, and understanding about science of the staff and adult visitors to an interactive science center. Data were collected from 63 staff and 102 visitors through interviews and a survey designed for the study. Visitors' perceptions about science were more limited than those of the Center staff, especially i...
Article
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Debate continues over the benefits, or otherwise, of single-sex classes in science and mathematics, particularly for the performance of girls. Previous research and analyses of the circumstances surrounding the implementation of single-sex classes warn that the success of the strategy requires due consideration of the nature of the instructional en...
Article
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A quasi-longitudinal case study was used to determine the effects on secondary students of participation in a program of enrichment and extracurricular science activities in terms of their interest and enjoyment in being involved in science activities, their motivation to continue to participate in science, and their perceptions about scientists an...
Article
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This paper reports on a large scale study that investigated the quality of teaching and learning in science in Australian schools. Its purposes were first, to describe ideal practice in the teaching and learning of school science; second, to describe the nature of teaching and learning of science in Australian schools; and third, to make recommenda...
Article
During the 1990s a significant development in computer technology has been the emergence of low-cost, high-powered portable computers. This has encouraged a number of schools to experiment with providing students with portable computers for use at both school and home. The arguments for using portable computers in schools are compelling but the fie...
Article
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The problem which stimulated this research is that in Australia, primary school teachers are expected to teach a new subject, Technology, but have had little training consistent with the newly adopted technology curriculum. Using case studies from two Western Australian schools, the paper documents the ways in which one teacher from each school has...
Chapter
It is 3.30 pm on Thursday as I pass through the entrance to Scitech Discovery Centre. “Hello”, I say to the young person at the door, “It’s the Education Committee meeting today!” She smiles and waves me on. The entrance to Special Effects II, the current major exhibition, looms large before me. Side-stepping the opening and weaving between the col...
Article
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Presents research which sets out to establish two pictures: one of the ideal regarding the teaching and learning of science, the other of the reality of what is actually happening in Australian schools. Identifies issues and implications for science teachers and the profession.
Article
It is easy to think that much of the important scientific research today concerns genetics. In the last few weeks of 1999, The West Australian daily newspaper carried articles linking genetics with modified foods, environmental concerns, medical care, genetic diseases and the possibility of their prevention. This burgeoning information base calls f...
Article
Recently, a Curriculum Framework has been developed and mandated for implementation in all school systems— government, Catholic and independent— in Western Australia (WA). A statement of core shared values is a significant part of the Framework. The curriculum is divided into eight learning area statements, science being one of these. The Science L...
Article
The integration of content from the science, mathematics and technology learning areas is well grounded in the philosophy of middle schooling. However, there is a notable absence of recent empirical research to show if and/or how students learn science and mathematics concepts in integrated settings. This paper presents a case study of a Year 9 cla...
Article
The computer managed learning (CML) system in use at Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia is a mainframe-based computer testing system run through a central testing laboratory. Each year approximately 30,000 student tests are generated and marked by the system. Multiple choice questions are used almost exclusively although the system i...
Article
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The purpose of this study was to investigate students' learning and understanding of the concept of forces in the context of a Year 9 class studying an integrated technology unit called the Bridge Project. Data consisted of cases prepared from observational field notes and formal interviews with the teachers and five of the students in the class. T...
Article
Two instruments designed to ascertain children's conceptions of ‘technology’ were given to 315 English children in Years 2–6. A subset of 81 children and their teachers were interviewed. Responses to the same instruments were collected from 745 Western Australian children in the same year groups. Subsequently their teachers and 164 Australian child...