Connecting science and mathematics instruction in schools through exploratory talk and inquiry

University of Waikato, New Zealand and National Priority Research Program NCED, Qatar University

  • Awarded to: Dr Nasser Mansour
  • Funding Awarded to Exeter: £24507
  • Dates: 10 August 2016 - 10 August 2019
  • Sponsor(s): Qatar National Research Fund

The project will involve collaboration between the University of Waikato in New Zealand, the University of Exeter in England, and the National Priority Research Program NCED at Qatar University. The goal is to strengthen science and mathematics instruction in schools through dialogic inquiry-based instruction. In England studies have shown that pedagogical strategies based on exploratory talk can support students’ collaboration, engagement and attainment in science and in mathematics. In New Zealand research in both mathematics and science classrooms has focused on the promotion of an inquiry-based integrated curriculum and the use of digital technologies. Instruction in science and mathematics often lacks practical experience and a reduced emphasis on critical thinking and inquiry-based activities. Such instruction can result in a perceived lack of relevance of the skills and knowledge of science and mathematics to students’ immediate view of the world. The aim of the project is to present a connected view of science and mathematics through a dialogic approach. Two specific pedagogies are brought together. Specific strategies based on exploratory talk and on digital inquiry, or WebQuests, will be used to promote collaborative group work, critical thinking and a positive attitude to mathematics and science. The focus of the project is on grades 4 - 8 as this reflects the period where interest in science and mathematics appears to decline. The project will involve a design experiment. The research team will work with Professional Development Specialists from the NCED in preparing and delivering support to teachers in Qatari independent schools. Research will examine the transformation in teachers’ classroom practice and how this relates to change in students’ motivation and attitude to science and mathematics. Data collection will involve mixed methods, both quantitatively in investigating attainment and student engagement, and qualitatively in the interpretation of data from video material and focus group interviews. The results from the project will provide further research information in the development of innovative teaching practices through professional development and to prepare students to make the best use of dialogue and inquiry in the classroom.