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ICT in Science Education. Exploring the Digital Learning Materials at viten.no

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Summary ICT has the potential to play an important role in making school science more relevant, interesting and motivating for students. Several studies show that ICT in Norwegian schools is most often used for word processing and search for information, while pedagogical use is much more uncommon. This dissertation, within the field of science education, consists of four articles that focus on the following aspects of the use of ICT in science education: a) What characterises the digital learning materials from viten.no, and how do these influence learning? b) Students’ argumentation when using information from viten.no in a role-play debate, and the teacher role in such debates. The data material is based on studies in three 9th grade classes that used the Viten program Wolves in Norway, and four 10th grade classes that used the Viten program Radioactivity. The results show that the students improved their knowledge after using both programs: they gave more nuanced descriptions of phenomena, used more scientific concepts and the answers were based more on facts than feelings. The first article shows that students, who before working on Wolves in Norway thought wolves are dangerous, changed their view to dangerous under specific circumstances on posttest. In article II results show that students were very positive to Radioactivity, and thought it was fun and had a good design. They thought Radioactivity provided variation and student control, and animations and visualisations made it easier to learn. Articles III and IV deal with the closing activity in Wolves in Norway; a role-play debate. Article III introduces a new method for analysing student argumentation in debates. Student argumentation in this study varied from simple claims to more complex arguments with biological, personal, political and economic content. Article IV concentrates on the teacher role in the debate situation. A typology of potential problems in debates, including examples of how the teacher can handle these, is presented. This typology may serve as a tool for teachers who want to use debates in their teaching. The work has been conducted at the Institute for Teacher Education and School Development under the supervision of Professor Doris Jorde.
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... Table 1 (Mork, 2006).Data from the Viten server shows that 1853 unique teachers have run at least one Viten program in one or more science classes as of June 22, 2005, and that 63 083 unique students have answered at least one task in one or more Viten programs in the same period. Hence, the total number of registered student users reported in Table 1 illustrates that many students have used several Viten programs.viten.no is well established within Norwegian schools, as illustrated by the high number of users in Table 1, and Viten has at several occasions been put forth as one of the good examples of digital learning resources in the Norwegian context. ...
... In a research project on the use of the Viten program Radioactivity (Mork, 2006;Mork, in prep.), students from four 10 th grade science classes were asked about their opinion about the program. 43 of 64 students characterised the program as exciting, fun, engaging or interesting. ...
Article
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viten.no is a web-based platform with digital teaching programs in science for secondary schooldeveloped by the Norwegian research and development project Viten (Jorde, Strømme, Sørborg,Erlien, & Mork, 2003). The Viten project is a collaboration between the University of Oslo, the Norwegian University for Science and Technology and the Norwegian Centre for Science Education. The Viten teaching programs are available for free, and no additional software is needed to use them. Students in grade 8-12 can work collaboratively on various science topics and each topic ranges in duration from 2-8 science lessons. Three types of programs are available, engaging students in: a) designing solution to problems, e.g. design a greenhouse for growing plants in a spaceship on its way to Mars, b) debating controversial issues, e.g. whether or not there should be wolves in the Norwegian wilderness, c) investigating scientific phenomena, e.g. radioactivity, gene-technology.
... Since launching viten.no with three teaching programs in winter of 2002, 14 teaching programs are available by June 2005, seeTable 1 (Mork, 2006). Data from the Viten server shows that 1853 unique teachers have run at least one Viten program in one or more science classes as of June 22, 2005, and that 63 083 unique students have answered at least one task in one or more Viten programs in the same period. ...
... In a research project on the use of the Viten program Radioactivity (Mork, 2006; Mork, in prep.), students from four 10 th grade science classes were asked about their opinion about the program. 43 of 64 students characterised the program as exciting, fun, engaging or interesting. ...
... All four characteristics advanced by Roschelle et al. (2000) are found in the web-based Viten unit called " Cloning plants " . In general, all Viten programmes are designed according to the Scaffolded Knowledge Integration (SKI) principles: make science accessible, make thinking visible, help students learn from each other and promote autonomy and lifelong learning (Linn & Hsi, 2000; Mork, 2006b). The Viten programmes are all based on theories regarding the social construction of knowledge and the importance of talking about science (Jorde et al., 2003 ), which are described by Leach and Scott (2003) and Mortimer and Scott (2003). ...
... In general, the students gave more elaborate answers in the posttest. Our results are in accordance with evaluations of the other Viten programmes , Earth Processes, Wolves in Norway and Radioactivity (Jorde et al., 2003; Mork & Jorde, 2004; Mork, 2006b), in which differences found between pre and posttest results were striking. One objective of our programme was to show that cloning occurs at different levels, from genes, to cells, to whole organisms. ...
Article
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Addressing controversial issues in the science classroom demands that students understand the societal aspects of scientific research. A context-based digital teaching unit, "Cloning plants", was designed in order to introduce cloning. The present study analyses students' learning outcomes and the development of their interest in biology from using the unit. The study was conducted among Norwegian biology students aged 17-18. A pretest and posttest design with individual questionnaires and group interviews was chosen. The study shows that use of the unit resulted in a more nuanced understanding of cloning and an increased interest in cloning. About 80% of the students reported that the realistic context had a positive impact on learning about cloning and 60% reported that they had learned more about scientific research and societal aspects of research on cloning. Students also reported that the context enhanced their interest in cloning.
... Lee & Grace (2010) konstaterar också i sin studie om en SSI-fråga som berör bevarande av fladdermöss att elever inte verkar vara tillräckligt medvetna om de lagar och bestämmelser som skyddar djur-och växtliv. Även i studier av Mork (2006) och Christenson et al. (in press) uppvisar elever brister i att använda argument som bygger på både lagar/bestämmelser och ekonomi. Lärare bör därför vara särskilt uppmärksamma på att elever tar hänsyn till just de ämnesområdena vid diskussioner om hållbar utveckling och bevarande av biologisk mångfald. ...
Article
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The focus of this study is the attitudes towards wolves in Sweden among upper secondary students. This socio-scientific issue (SSI) involves many aspects, such as ethical, political and biological aspects, and provides a context to study students’ informal argumentation. The different arguments used by the students were analyzed using the framework of the SEE-SEP-model. A questionnaire probing attitudes to the existence of wolves in the neighbourhood was distributed to 352 upper secondary students. 18 students were interviewed in focused group-interviews (in pairs). The results showed that 55% of the students showed a negative attitude towards the existence of wolves in the neighbourhood. The analysis of the different aspects of arguments used by the students in the interviews showed that arguments based on value were more dominant (60%) than arguments based on knowledge (30%), and arguments based on personal experiences (10%).
... urfaglige fenomener og prinsipper påvirker laering. For eksempel har det vaert forsket en del på det norske laeremidlet Viten.no (), som har sitt utspring i den amerikanske laeringsressursen WISE (Linn, Clark & Slotta, 2003; Linn & Eylon, 2011). Knyttet til disse laeringsressursene har det vaert forsket på bruken av forskjellige kursmoduler (f.eks. Mork, 2006; Linn & Eylon, 2011) og ulike støtteverktøy og former for visualiseringer som har blitt implementert i kursmodulene (f.eks. Furberg, 2009; Furberg & Arnseth, 2009). For eksempel viser Linn og Eylon (2011) til ulike casestudier der forskjellige kursmoduler og deler knyttet til WISE har blitt designet og 16 testet ut. Resultatene tyder på ...
... It presents programs combining text, simulations, and animations in topics of science and mathematics. In the most popular Viten program, Radioactivity, the interactive animations and other features are described to contribute to student learning by making the 'invisible' visible (Mork, 2005). When summarising students' positive comments, Mork (2005) identifies a number of categories which are thought to provide some general insights about what is appreciated in a teaching sequence, that is: using computers, variation, informative materials, working together, and student control. ...
Chapter
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The overall aim of this chapter is to explore some of the pedagogical potentials, as well as limitations, of animations displaying complex biochemical processes. As the first part of our larger research project, a learning environment was developed where visualisations by means of 3-D animations depicted some of the processes in the carbon cycle. In the analysis, we describe how three groups of students made use of and reasoned about the computer animations. In relation to the aim, three salient themes are discernible in the video material of the students' reasoning; the risk of focusing the attention on misleading aspects of the animation, the possible occurrence of a form of isolated reasoning, and the students' varying understandings of what resources they are expected to use when performing a given task.
Article
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The school systems of many countries have been pervaded by student-centred pedagogy making students’ small group discussion a common feature of the classroom practice. However, there is a lack of studies focussing different modes of discussion forthe purpose of finding out whether some modes are more beneficial than others. Hence, the aim of this study is to explore the underpinnings of student smallgroup conversations on Socio-scientific Issues in order to develop an understanding of the key aspects of what interrupts or revitalizes the conversation. We focus on the importance of attitudes and language use for the fate of students’ decision-making conversations. Our theoretical framework builds on Dewey’s notion of Open-mindedness and Bernstein’s communication codes. Students’ use of morals, opinions and agitational talk interrupted conversations, whereas new aspects and new perspectives revitalized the conversation. Students need guidance to avoid using justifications in conjunction with a Close-minded attitude.
Chapter
Argumentation studies in science education are relatively young. It can be said that classroom-based research in scientific argumentation began in the 1990s. The first batch of studies focused on exploring whether science classroom environments favoured argumentation, an exploration with negative outcomes (e.g., Driver, Newton & Osborne, 2000), as well as on investigating students’ argumentation (e.g., Duschl, Ellenbogen, & Erduran, 1999; Jimenez-Aleixandre, Bugallo & Duschl, 2000; Kolste, 2006; Kortland, 1996). As the field continued to develop, the focus shifted towards an interest in the quality of arguments, or how to analyze the development of students’ argumentation competences (e.g., Erduran, 2008; Erduran, Simon & Osborne, 2004). In the last few years there is an emerging interest about how to support students’ engagement in argumentation, through the design of learning environments (e.g., Jimenez-Aleixandre, 2008; Mork, 2005) and professional development of science teachers (e.g, Erduran, Ardac & Yakmaci- Guzel, 2006; Erduran, 2006; Simon, Erduran & Osborne, 2006).
Article
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We experimented with teaching nanotechnology in high school within the perspective of citizenship education in science by involving experts in nanotechnology, education, ethics and philosophy. After training, the students debated a Socially Acute Question (SAQ) that they elaborated during the various phases of instruction. The field of SAQs represents a French orientation for the teaching of SocioScientific Issues. We analyzed the interactions of students in the debate to determine their risk perception on nanotechnology. We compared and put their arguments into perspective using various analytical frameworks. We observed two contrasting argumentative tendencies: one reflecting a positivist view that involved an individualistic use of nanotechnology and science and one carrying a critical and humanistic vision of the use of nanotechnology and science.
Conference Paper
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This study investigates the use of a teaching program that combines online and offline activities to teach about the socio-scientific controversial issue of wolves in Norway. The web-based part of the teaching program consists of an online knowledge base designed to promote discourse and argumentation while working at the computers and in an offline classroom debate. The participants were a Norwegian class of students age 14-15 who implemented the teaching program. We used video recordings from the debate to investigate the nature of students’ argumentation and the teacher’s role in the debate. Our results show that students used an overweight of biological and social arguments in the debates, and the origin of a large proportion of the arguments can be traced back to the online knowledge base in the teaching program. Our results also show that the teacher played an important role in the debate context, both as a moderator and by content related contributions.
Article
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We designed Knowledge Integration Environment (KIE) debate projects to take advantage of internet resources and promote student understanding of science. Design decisions were guided by the Scaffolded Knowledge Integration instructional framework. We report on design studies that test and elaborate on our instructional framework. Our learning studies assess the arguments students construct using the Knowledge Integration Environment debate project about light propagation and, explore the relationship between students' views of the nature of science and argument construction. We examine how students use evidence, determine when they add further ideas and claims and measure progress in understanding light propagation. To a modeate degree, students' views of the nature of science align with the quality of the arguments.
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Basing its arguments in current perspectives on the nature of the scientific enterprise, which see argument and argumentative practice as a core activity of scientists, this article develops the case for the inclusion and central role of argument in science education. Beginning with a review of the nature of argument, it discusses the function and purpose of dialogic argument in the social construction of scientific knowledge and the interpretation of empirical data. The case is then advanced that any education about science, rather than education in science, must give the role of argument a high priority if it is to give a fair account of the social practice of science, and develop a knowledge and understanding of the evaluative criteria used to establish scientific theories. Such knowledge is essential to enhance the public understanding of science and improve scientific literacy. The existing literature, and work that has attempted to use argument within science education, is reviewed to show that classroom practice does provide the opportunity to develop young people's ability to construct argument. Furthermore, the case is advanced that the lack of opportunities for the practice of argument within science classrooms, and lack of teacher's pedagogical skills in organizing argumentative discourse within the classroom are significant impediments to progress in the field.
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This article reports from a qualitative study of how 16-year-old Norwegian pupils dealt with a socio-scientific issue. The pupils were interviewed on aspects of their decision-making concerning a local version of the well-known controversial issue: whether or not power transmission lines increase the risk for childhood leukaemia. The part of the study reported here has focused on their views on the trustworthiness of knowledge claims, arguments and opinions given to them prior to interview. It was found that many aspects of trustworthiness were experienced as problematic by the pupils. Using inductive analysis, four main kinds of 'resolution strategies' were identified that were used by the pupils to decide who and what to trust: 1) Acceptance of knowledge claim, 2) Evaluation of statements using 'reliability indicators' and through explicitly 'thinking for themselves', 3) Acceptance of researchers or other sources of information as authoritative, 4) Evaluation of sources of information in terms of 'interests', 'neutrality' or 'competence'. Some pupils used all these strategies, others used only one or two. The pupils' evaluations were nuanced and based partly on empirical evidence, but mostly on rather superficial contextual information. It is argued that some of the resolution strategies imply that autonomous evaluations were made. One main conclusion is that knowledge of different sources of scientific information needs to be more emphasized in science education for citizenship.
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In attempting to define intelligence in real-world contexts, psychologists have focused primarily on the kinds of thinking that people do in work-related environments. In this article, however, Deanna Kuhn describes another form of thinking that should be central to efforts to describe real-world intelligence: thinking as argument. It is in argument, the author maintains, that we find the most significant way in which higher order thinking and reasoning figure in the lives of most people. Kuhn describes her research, which examines the extent to which a process of reasoned argument underlies the beliefs people hold and the opinions they espouse about important social issues. Her results indicate that argumentive reasoning ability does not differ systematically as a function of sex or age (from adolescence through the late sixties), but is strongly related to education level. Kuhn believes that social contexts, such as the classroom, are the most promising arena for practicing and developing argumentive th...