Planning and Assessing in Primary and Early Childhood Science

Part 1 - Unit Design

Designing of the unit of work must base on the expected learning outcomes of the student or the learner. Many important lessons can be learned from the primary connections which encompasses a learning program for learners as an effective tool to enhance teaching as well as learning science and literacy (Flores, 2016). The unit learning objectives must encompass the learning outcomes keeping the student as the centre of the unit program. The teaching pedagogy and delivery of the unit lessons must be strategically planned to satisfy the cognitive learning needs of the students; motivating them to thing logically and rationally to produce an explanation of a scientific phenomenon. Scientific pedagogy and literacy are inter-related. It encircles a set of values and a clear goal or a vision; an effective UoW framework helps in organized and structured learning, realistic assessment strategy with an aim of enhancing actual learning instead of basing the assessment on unrealistic and biased academic performance alone; According to Gary et al., 2020, “ A Unit of work and unit learning outcome must ensure that the individual students develop confidence in themselves and become successful learners and responsible citizens. Designing of the unit recognizes that schools exhibit continuum of learning and encourage the idea that students can be anywhere along in this continuum.”

The curriculum has been rampantly evolved since past many years. It is structured in a way that each segment of the curriculum is directed towards achieving a specific learning outcome or the goals of the unit. It is significant to identify the challenges which hamper the scientific pedagogy to be prevalent in the learner. To attain the scientific understanding and encouraging logical thinking the old teaching methods should be assessed for their ability to produce results which are more practical and not only the results which are focused on strong academic performance. Such sort of learning does not encourage critical thinking and does not inspire the learner to think, beyond the grades (Shinno et al., 2018). Due to this there is a negative impact on the student’s mind. It is vital to recognize the link between the unit of working framework and the activities as well as assessments which are carried out in the class.

As discussed earlier, based on the theory of Benjamin Bloom, (Paatsch, Hutchison & Cloonan, 2019) “the research related to the process of thinking can be put in use in designing the unit. This means that the construction of the unit must put the Unit levels, courses and the activities in sync for a common goal or a desired outcome, instead of the outcome which is only based on instructions or a to do list. This will help the educators to stress on the teaching outcome and learning and less on the objectivity which focuses merely on the standards of academic excellence. Thus, task-based learning must be emphasized and equal participation of all students be encouraged in performing those tasks.”

According to the Australian Curriculum, “Science has three interrelated strands—Science Understanding, Science as a Human Endeavour and Science Inquiry Skills—that together ‘provide students with understanding, knowledge and skills through which they can develop a scientific view of the world’ (ACARA, 2014).” The first strand is comprised of: “Science as a Human Endeavor” shown in box below.

The Second and third strands are shown in the box below: Science Understanding & Science Inquiry Skills.

Part 2 - Representational Reasoning

It represents the presentation of scientific learning of the students based on pictorial, graphical data. It is important aspect of scientific to have the ability to interpret the understanding of the scientific concepts in the form of flowcharts, graphs and other diagrams. It tests the inquiry skills of the student, as in how the student “processes and analyses” data and the relevant information. It also helps in understanding of data comparisons, predictions as well as development of logical reasoning behind the scientific phenomena.

Student-generated explanations can be represented in a variety of ways (fig 1 to 3). According to Parnafes, 2010, “the students negotiate and co-construct representations with their peers. Finally, they design representations for explaining the phenomenon to an external audience. The analysis identifies various representational practices utilized by students for making sense of the phenomenon, developing explanations, and communicating their ideas to their peers. The analysis examines how these practices support students in achieving some cognitive and communicative goals.” SGR helps learners to enhance their own understanding. It involves creative skills and development of inventiveness which is critical for any science student. It also helps in increasing competitiveness.

The student generated gestures are goal oriented, and serve the following functions in making sense of the activity for obtaining cognitive goals. They are:

1). Organizing the data or the information- for instance, using a flowchart, which chalks out the relevant details of the subject or the topic.

2). Construction of the idea and describing the logic/rational for the same.

3). Manage complex task.

Part 3 - Documentation of My Own Learning

From the discussion, I have realised many factors which influence the scientific learning in the students. A few modifications were made in the unit design based on the 5Es teaching and learning model (Box 4).

There must be transparency while constructing the assessment process. Students must be made aware of the importance and goals of the assessment in order to gain a positive outcome. It is important that the student has a clear understanding of the assessment, which is to judge its own cognitive abilities rather than comparing with the peers, the grading system causes conflicts in the child’s mind at a subconscious level. Different teaching strategies must be deployed by the teachers which should cause an engagement of students during the activities. As science is an active subject, teacher must stress more on the critical thinking process, encouraging students to explore their surroundings and verifying their findings. The methods of teaching must be flexible and must bridge the learning gap of all the students. It should encircle those students who have low IQ level. As per Min et al., 2019, “Effectiveness of the unit lies in the ability of student to actively engage himself/herself in learning outcomes and ability to adapt to the changes which occur as adjustments within the mandated standards. It is of significance importance that the students must actively participate and engage in the formation of the unit.”

Teaching Challenges in Science.

There are various challenges, which the educators face pertaining to the subject of science. Primarily, it is well known fact that the educational standards that are too high for the learners, with complex learning outcomes. It hampers actual learning and makes the goals unachievable. Spencer & Yuill, 2018; Smith & Kennedy, 2019; Ennis, 2016; Min et al., 2019, were some of the researchers which suggested that, “The focus of the educators remains of covering the syllabus and not achieving learning of concepts in the manner which help the students in solving real time problems.” The AQF level pertaining to the higher education considers the qualifications being offered and the achievement of the students. This is well associated to the course learning outcomes that are being assessed (Spencer & Yuill, 2018; Smith & Kennedy, 2019; Ennis, 2016; Min et al., 2019).The Australian Qualification Framework has the constraints associated with the mobility issues and the engagement of the domestic and global education in a unique manner. The recognition of the qualification and the recognition policy encourages the deployment of recognition practices. Researches on this model should be shared for renewal of policies at a national as well as global level.

  • The Unit design must mainly relay focus on learners, ensuring that their level of understanding is increased. I learnt to put more stress on the “learning part” rather than the teaching part (Ennis, 2016; Rea & Roman, 2018; Villarroel & Orlando, 2018).
  • Building on correct impressions, supplied with facts and encouraging evidence-based knowledge is vital to develop scientific understanding.
  • The Unit must provide associations to form new knowledge and experiences which adds to their existing knowledge base. It must provide the ability to develop and further build on known concepts (Gray, 2020).
  • Emphasizes not on the coverage or breadth of the subject but on the depth of it. It provides the students the opportunity to have a clear understanding and to practice various scenarios to achieve the right answer. It helps them to explore better or improvised ways to solve an equation or a problem.
  • The activities must be conducted in an organized manner, which inculcates decision making and problem-solving critical thinking approach. This can include solving a practical or real-life issue, which they face in their daily lives and encouraging them to provide scientific explanation and solution for the same.
  • Encouraging reaching same solution but by different means.
  • Integration of other educational facets such as “language, measures, and representations of inquiry and proof which can be reliable with specialists in that sphere.”
  • Developing an inter-disciplinary approach in the learner. For instance., helping the students to form links between science and other subjects, such as science goes hand in hand with maths and environmental education. Forming links is a best way to enhance knowledge and application of the knowledge received of the subject. As per Amos et al., 2020, “Specialists do not only have wide assimilated and deep knowledge; they also have conceptual understanding of the subject. They have the skill of at perceiving, recognizing, as well as recuperating knowledge which is impertinent to find appropriate solution of a precise problem. Their knowledge is organized into meaningful patterns and structures. They have the ability to give meaning to the arising issue and ability to solve it in multitude of ways because they have been exposed to the same problems occurring in various contexts. Most of the curricula and instructional resource, are not developed to benefit students to conditionalize their learning or knowledge. For instance, textbooks only explain the students how they can solve a problem rather than to make them think or develop the ability to help them in understanding the application of the same resolution in different settings.”
  • Instruction: Families, societies, and cultural practices, etc are the platform from where a learner derives understanding and knowledge which gives a meaning to their lives. Therefore, unit must be designed or structured in a way, which keeps their familial and cultural view as the centre of their learning (Harland, 2020). This will help the educators to yield more engagement from students and help them in applying their knowledge in real life. It will also facilitate removal of myths and misconceptions which as baseless and imaginary. This way their learning will be enhanced and the students will have increased motivation to learn further as they will connect the learning to their real-life experience. This can be achieved by forming activities in a real environment and a simulated manner.
  • The research conducted by Flores, 2016 stated that, “An effective unit permits integration of socialization within its discourse of academic disciplines.” It delivers recurrent opportunities to students for applying different methods to achieve their goal. However, an obligation of the characteristic features of disciplines, should not cause isolation from each other or the surroundings of the students (Shinno et al., 2020). On the other hand, a strong unit design focuses on developing links between scientific and literacy learning; on forming interdisciplinary connections, integration, and legitimacy in the relationship between learning both in and out of the institution. These factors make learning more challenging, exciting, and motivating, and also help the students to develop abilities for building meaningful network with the application of learning and transferring of acquired knowledge from one problem context to another. 
  • Professional Development: Students with diverse educational upbringing and variety of knowledge, for instance, as they study any other subjects at the same time, due to which their thoughts are often unorganized, and may also cause them to not remember certain concepts with clarity. Therefore, it is essential that they are educated on the application of the acquired education in different circumstances so that there is re-iteration of the lessons and concepts in their minds and they are embedded in their memory for a longer period of time. As per Paatsch, Hutchison & Cloonan, 2019, “An effective unit delivers sufficient chances for students to utilize their learning and information in a diversified setting.” It is critical to deliver early age learners with consistent chances to apply their education in numerous situations and give them sufficient time to accomplish the work and achieve the desired outcome by themselves. “To allow adequate time for in-depth learning, is to help them decide which knowledge is beneficial to them and is worth the effort. It is because of this reason, the unit should clearly stipulate suitable balance between the depth and breadth of the syllabus covered in relation to learning outcomes in students (Harland, 2020).”

References for Planning and Assessing in Primary and Early Childhood Science

Amos, R., Knippels, M. C., & Levinson, R. (2020). Socio-scientific inquiry-based learning: Possibilities and challenges for teacher education. In Science Teacher Education for Responsible Citizenship (pp. 41-61). Springer, Cham.

Bovill, C., Cook-Sather, A., Felten, P., Millard, L., & Moore-Cherry, N. (2016). Addressing potential challenges in co-creating learning and teaching: Overcoming resistance, navigating institutional norms and ensuring inclusivity in student–staff partnerships. Higher Education71(2), 195-208.

Bransford, J., Lin, X., & Schwartz, D. (2000). Technology, learning, and schools: Comments on articles by Tom Carroll & Gerald Bracey. Education1(1), 145-182.

Butt, M., & Shahzad, A. (2019). The Agency of Secondary School English Teachers and National Curriculum Change (2006) in Pakistan: Challenges and Problems. Journal of Research13(1), 134-147.

Flores, M. A. (2016). Teacher education curriculum. In International handbook of teacher education (pp. 187-230). Springer, Singapore.

Gray, C. M., Parsons, P., Toombs, A. L., Rasche, N., & Vorvoreanu, M. (2020). Designing an Aesthetic Learner Experience. International Journal of Designs for Learning11(1), 41-58.

Grimus, M. (2020). Emerging Technologies: Impacting Learning, Pedagogy and Curriculum Development. In Emerging Technologies and Pedagogies in the Curriculum (pp. 127-151). Springer, Singapore.

Harland, T. (2020). University Challenge: Critical Issues for Teaching and Learning. Routledge.

Paatsch, L., Hutchison, K., & Cloonan, A. (2019). Literature in the Australian English curriculum: Victorian primary school teachers' practices, challenges and preparedness to teach. Australian Journal of Teacher Education (Online)44(3), 61.

Parnafes, O. (2010, June). Representational practices in the activity of student-generated representations (SGR) for promoting conceptual understanding. In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference of the Learning Sciences-Volume 1 (pp. 301-308).

Parsons, D., MacCallum, K., Schofield, L., Johnstone, A., & Coulter, S. K. (2020). Next-Generation Digital Curricula for Future Teaching and Learning. In Emerging Technologies and Pedagogies in the Curriculum (pp. 3-19). Springer, Singapore.

Shinno, Y., Miyakawa, T. A. K. E. S. H. I., Iwasaki, H., Kunimune, S. U. S. U. M. U., Mizoguchi, T. A. T. S. U. Y. A., Ishii, T., & Abe, Y. (2018). Challenges in curriculum development for mathematical proof in secondary school: Cultural dimensions to be considered. For the Learning of Mathematics38(1), 26-30.

THE EARLY YEARS LEARNING FRAMEWORK FOR AUSTRALIA, (2018). BELONGING, BEING & BECOMING. Retrieved from https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-02/belonging_being_and_becoming_the_early_years_learning_framework_for_australia.pdf

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Early Childhood Assignment Help

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