Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SAILS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 289085
Funded under: FP7-SIS
Country: Ireland

An aid for teachers to assess inquiry learning

Learning science through inquiry can result in better understanding and more broadly applicable scientific knowledge, along with the development of transferable skills and competencies. These skills are important so that all citizens may make informed and reasoned decisions.
An aid for teachers to assess inquiry learning
The EU-funded SAILS (Strategies for assessment of inquiry learning in science) project set out to demonstrate how inquiry approaches can be used in teaching scientific topics and for the development of students’ inquiry skills. Particular emphasis was placed on supporting teachers in using assessment strategies to make judgments and give feedback to their students on how to improve their learning. The project included over 2 700 teachers from 12 European countries participating in the fellowship between 2012 and 2015.

Through this programme, teachers strengthened their inquiry pedagogy and assessment skills by developing their understanding of the role of assessment and the use of inquiry teaching and learning in the classroom.

Project researchers focused on the development of four inquiry skills: forming hypotheses, working collaboratively, constructing coherent arguments and planning investigation along with the broader competencies of scientific reasoning and literacy.

Through this project, 19 SAILS Inquiry and Assessment Units were developed, showing the benefits of inquiry approaches in classroom practice, describing appropriate assessment strategies and providing evidence that each inquiry skill and competence can be assessed. Moreover, these units contained examples of classroom practice and showed how evidence of student learning can be collected and assessed through a variety of methods.

Over 100 case study reports from teachers all over Europe showed evidence of the implementation of these Units in classrooms, the teaching and assessment methods adopted, the skills assessed and the issues encountered.

The project examined the assessment and feedback in terms of what was being assessed, at what time and by whom, and defined the range of inquiry skills and competencies addressed within the project.

SAILS Teacher Education Programmes (TEPs) have been developed and implemented which explicitly address the obstacles faced by teachers in the implementation of inquiry-oriented assessment practices in classrooms. By doing so, the TEPs empowered teachers to overcome these challenges and increase their use of inquiry and its assessment.

Overall, SAILS supported and advanced the use of inquiry-based science education across Europe. It achieved this by implementing three key components for transforming classroom practice i.e. teacher education, curriculum and assessment around an IBSE pedagogy. The SAILS professional development programmes in inquiry and assessment increased teachers' confidence in changing their classroom practice.

The project showed that teaching and assessment as a dynamic and iterative process can support inquiry learning. In turn, this leads to better understanding and more broadly applicable scientific knowledge, transferrable skills and competencies.

Related information


Teachers, inquiry learning, science, SAILS, assessment, education
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