Teachers' beliefs and actions regarding learning practices in Newton-rooms

Year: 2018

Author: Rønning, Wenche, Rusk, Fredrik

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Norway has major challenges with regard to both recruitment of pupils into science and technology (STEM) subjects, as well as pupil results within the same subjects. The Norwegian education authorities have for more than two decades initiated several measures to improve the situation. Part of these measures include cooperation with the business sector to promote interest in STEM subjects within compulsory education. One example is the work initiated by the foundation FIRST Scandinavia, comprising a cooperation with school owners and businesses, to provide a practice-oriented approach to STEM education through so-called Newton-rooms.
The research presented here is part of a research project on Newton-rooms as an arena for learning. In the current article, we focus on teachers' beliefs and actions regarding learning practices in Newton-rooms in Newton-rooms. A Newton-room is a learning arena that offers a practice-oriented approach to STEM education. The pupils attend lectures provided by a Newton-teacher and work in groups to solve problems. These activities are carried out in group work. In this paper, we focus on teachers' thinking regarding the activities in the Newton-rooms and analyse that up against what they actually do in their teaching and learning practices. To get at teachers’ perceptions and opinions regarding Newton-rooms, we have relied on a workshop together with Newton-teachers. At the workshop the teachers worked in groups to discuss possibilities and challenges regarding learning practices in Newton-rooms and we also showed them video recordings of the actual social practices (both teacher and students) in the Newton-rooms to stimulate their discussions, thinking, and reflections on the teaching and learning practices in the Newton-rooms.
The results of the workshop indicate that by using video as a stimulus for reflection on teaching practices, the teachers started reflecting on how much the task composition actually forms the group and learning practices of the students, and how the group composition and the allocation of roles also plays strongly in on how the group works and, thus, have an impact on learning practices. They also expressed that using video clips to reflect on different teaching and learning practices is very useful, and that it should also be done internally within the teacher teams.