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Learning communities in teacher education: the impact of e-competence

[journal article]

Elster, Doris

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Abstract The present article reports on the results of the three year programme 'Biology in Context' (bik). In this German-wide programme, teachers and science education researchers worked together in 10 learning communities (so-called school sets) with the goal of enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in biology classrooms as mandated by the recently passed National Educational Standard for the lower secondary level. In addition to face-to-face meetings, computers were used as tools for communication and collaboration. Computers enabled the mutual sharing of information among the participants, the planning and documenting of tasks and teaching units, and they promoted the reflection over and refining of products. Data were collected from structured interviews of teachers, researchers and coordinators. The analysis identified teacher profiles in regard to their attitudes to implement the bik concept, their computer use and the change of classroom activities. The main findings show that (i) the participant teachers mainly used ICT tools when constructing tasks and units and when collaborating, (ii) but less so for instructional purposes, learning and knowledge creation, (iii) seldom used ICT tools for reflection on professional experiences, and (iv) that teachers use of ICT tools increased from the first to the third year. The study concludes that information literacy skills have a strong impact on the persistence of learning communities. Further research should be conducted to investigate teachers' professional development in communities that turn more and more from face-to-face meetings to blended forms of learning.
Keywords natural science instruction; biology instruction; Federal Republic of Germany; learning; teacher; competence; expertise; education standards; teaching; planning; teaching materials
Classification Curriculum, Teaching, Didactics
Method applied research; evaluation; empirical; qualitative empirical; quantitative empirical
Free Keywords learning communities; information literacy skills; national educational standards; competency acquisition; context orientation
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 2185-2216
Journal International Journal of Science Education, 32 (2010) 16
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)