Reinvigorating primary school science through school-community partnerships

Kathy Smith, Angela Fitzgerald, Suzanne Deefholts, Susan Jackson, Nicole Sadler, Alan Smith, Simon Lindsay

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

Abstract

Many primary school teachers, when supported by opportunities that assist them to reframe their thinking about the nature of science, appear to demonstrate a capacity to willingly use new perspectives to reconsider science learning and teaching. In particular the need for science to be explored as a human endeavour and the need to generate for students reason to seek understanding, to make sense of and communicate thinking about phenomena and experiences. To this end primary teachers value science learning situated within experiences that are personally meaningful and contextually relevant to their students, often producing opportunities to invite perspectives and achievements from sources outside the school to broaden science learning beyond the confines of the classroom. When established effectively such partnerships can potentially enable students to engage in and develop an understanding of science as a process of investigation and collaboration dependent upon the social construction of knowledge. Through an exploration of three case studies, we demonstrate situations where primary teachers and schools intentionally take steps to ensure their students have a sense of connectedness to their local community and environment by developing mutually beneficial learning relationships with both formal and informal science partners. By doing so these schools actively broaden the primary school science curriculum to include aspects of contemporary science with a particularly strong emphasis on social and emotional aspects of learning. The result is a wider range of learning outcomes than were ever intended or anticipated for students, teachers and the community in general. Finally, the chapter identifies the characteristics that make school-community partnerships educationally valuable for science learning and teaching.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNavigating the changing landscape of formal and informal science learning opportunities
EditorsDeborah Corrigan, Cathy Bunting, Alister Jones, John Loughran
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
PublisherSpringer
Chapter6
Pages87-103
Number of pages17
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9783319897615
ISBN (Print)9783319897608
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2018

Keywords

  • Multi-disciplinary science learning
  • Science curriculum
  • Socioscientific issues

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