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INQUIRE- inquiry-based teacher training for a sustainable future

Final Report Summary - INQUIRE (INQUIRE- inquiry-based teacher training for a sustainable future)

Executive Summary:
INQUIRE Inquiry-based teacher training for a sustainable future
Coordinator: Suzanne.Kapelari@uibk.ac.at
Summary
The EU FP7 INQUIRE Project was developed and implemented to support science literacy in Europe through teacher training courses, focussing on the integration of Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) into informal and formal education programmes. Courses were developed and offered in 14 sites across 11 European countries with a cohort of over 570 participants that included both teachers in the formal education system and also education officers in informal education sites (Botanic Gardens, Natural History Museums etc).
Botanic gardens and similar LOtC sites are inspirational sites that can provide training for teachers and educators on critical issues such as conservation of our natural resources, sustainability and threats to our future, such as climate change. Integrating these themes into activities using IBSE pedagogy provides an exciting and stimulating programme which encourages teachers and informal educators to develop their proficiency in IBSE and to become reflective practitioners as well as raising awareness of these issues.
Introduction
Current science education reform initiatives require fundamental changes in how science is taught and in how teachers are supported to engage in alternative ways of science teaching. One current approach is the incorporation of inquiry based science education (IBSE) into the everyday school science curriculum. To help make this change happen, teachers need opportunities to participate in a variety of professional development experiences that foster an understanding of science and inquiry based science teaching. Research has also shown that learning that includes activities based outside the classroom is highly motivating, not only for children but also for teachers. The UK Government’s education manifesto `Learning outside the Classroom´ was launched to emphasis this key issue and Europe has already recognized the potential of Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) venues to support the implementation of IBSE methods on a large scale. With more people living in cities, botanic gardens, which provide excellent opportunities for education in major cities worldwide, offer some of the only outdoor learning sites for children to gain first-hand experiences of IBSE.
The INQUIRE project and its objectives and achievements
The Inquire project was set up to foster the development and implementation of IBSE in both formal and informal education systems by developing, testing and implementing IBSE training courses in 11 European countries. One of the key aspects of this project was the provision of a ‘long-term’ training course (60 hours +) over a prolonged period and a course where there was a real emphasis on reflective practice being developed by both course participants and Consortium Partners. This is a change from short, sharp training sessions that often are the objectives of projects and which, although they may result in high numbers of participants, unfortunately do not actually effect real behavioural and attitudinal change in those participating. Inquire course participants and partners were a smaller cohort but were offered a more intense and in depth training and were encouraged to develop an action research approach, which has been evidenced in both the Quality Management Report and the external evaluation. There has also been a good community of practice developed. All of these outcomes are likely to result in real sustainability of the project aims and objectives going forward and for long-term and profitable collaborative work in the future across the range of participating EU organisations.
The content of the INQUIRE training courses focused on various aspects of biodiversity loss and climate change, drawing on the expertise and inspirational settings for the courses in Botanic
Project Context and Objectives:
INQUIRE aimed to reinvigorate inquiry-based science education (IBSE) in the Formal and the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) educational systems throughout Europe. Thus INQUIRE promoted the professional development of teachers by implementing effective teacher training interventions using the expertise in inquiry-based learning and teaching of a consortium of 17 partners in 11 countries.
The consortium implemented a rolling one-year training course for practitioners in inquiry-based learning methods, research methodology and assessment techniques. Through training, ongoing mentoring and promotion of best practice, INQUIRE firmly embed this pedagogy within the educational systems of 11 European countries.
The subject content of the course focused on the major global issues of the 21st Century: biodiversity loss and climate change and adapted some already published teaching resources (e.g. from the EU PLASCIGARDEN project) as well created new INQUIRE resources.
The INQUIRE project had 15 objective to support the widespread uptake of inquiry-based teaching and learning in science education across Europe. All these objectives have been reached successfully in course of the three year project duration:

1. INQUIRE linked informal and formal education systems as well as the science education research community through assembling an interdisciplinary project team. Done in WP2
2. INQUIRE developed a shared understanding of inquiry based learning in formal and informal educational institutions on a European scale. Done in WP2.
3. INQUIRE developed a rolling one-year training course for practitioners in inquiry-based learning (INQUIRE course manual)
Addressing pupils age 9-14 years. Done in WP3.
4. INQUIRE promoted already existing best practise models (PLASCIGARDEN, FIBONACCI) throughout the project in both the formal and informal education system. Done in WP3and WP6
5. INQUIRE developed a course whose subject content highlighted the major global issues of the 21st Century: biodiversity loss and climate change. Done in WP3
6. INQUIRE promoted learning in and outside the classroom. Completetd in WP3
7. INQUIRE promoted its course through the various national systems that support continual professional development for teachers. Done in WP4
8. INQUIRE implemented a pilot courses at a local level throughout 11 European countries. Done in WP4
9. INQUIRE ensured that formative assessment encouraged the course design and was adapted to the needs of individual countries. Done in WP7
10. INQUIRE created an interactive website and regularly published electronic newsletters to support a practitioners network. Done in WP6
11. INQUIRE trained 576 teachers and informal educators to carry out their own practitioners research. Done in WP4
Implementation
12. INQUIRE encouraged teachers and educators to participate in website activities through establishing a teacher recognition scheme. Done in WP3
13. INQUIRE run a final conference to disseminate the project outcomes on a European wide scale (124 participants/13 countries). Done in WP6
14. INQUIRE supported other informal learning institutions seeking to gain experience in the area of IBSE techniques and run the INQUIRE Train the Trainer Course (train the tariner courses, 285 participants). Done in WP4
15. INQUIRE outcomes were promoted through a range of networks including the EU central information provider for dissemination of best practice. Done in WP6.
Project Results:
Gardens and natural history centres across Europe. The courses were piloted by partners early on in the project and post evaluation of the pilot course, a second course was run. The project partners used reflective practice and evaluation processes to analyse good practice, effectiveness and impact of the courses both with their course participants, through the consortium partnership meetings and through support sessions provided by the Quality Management team and Management Board. The courses were refined and improved through this process, resulting in enhanced courses with more polished delivery and good impact. Throughout the Inquire training courses, teachers and botanic garden educators had also been encouraged to learn with, and from, each other and to develop a shared understanding of how IBSE can be facilitated in class and in botanic gardens and natural history museums. Sustainability was key to the project and this was attained through the community of practice and through the running of ‘Train the Trainer’ courses to cascade knowledge and experiences gained through the project to other LOtC institutions. There was also excellent dissemination of outcomes and practices through a range of media and at conferences, workshops, seminars and promotional events both nationally and internationally.
INQUIRE courses developed and implemented in 11 EU countries
Two sets of Inquire courses were run over the project period. The pilot courses ran between September 2011 and July 2012 and the second set, building on the initial course content and processes, ran between the autumn of 2012 and the summer of 2013. Using the reflective practice developed throughout the project and supported by partnership interaction and exchange of best practice, partners were able to refine and enhance their courses for the second period. Overall the courses reached a total of 576 participants; 250 in the pilot courses and 326 in the second set of courses. Course participants included educators in LOtC sites, primary, secondary and student teachers, education authority officers and other staff from LOtC sites. The outcomes and impacts from these courses were explored in the Final Quality Management Plan and the Final External Evaluation Report which draw on the ‘Portfolios of Evidence’ (PofE) and case studies submitted by partners following the two sets of courses. These partner PofE, in turn, draw on the findings and reflections from participants on individual courses as well as partner course tutor’s/ organiser’s reflective practice. A sea change in both practice and attitude can be seen in these findings.
A Quality Management Plan has been implemented and supported
The Quality Management Plan was developed and agreed in the initial period of the project. The plan outlined how evidence for project outcomes would be collected through surveys, on-line questionnaires, case studies submitted by partners during partner meetings, interviews, observation and Portfolios of Evidence. This plan was implemented and augmented as necessary over the project period. Regular support was provided throughout the project period by both the QM team and the full Management Board including provision of partner visits, support telephone calls, on-line via Glasscubes and through the Inquire website and regular newsletters. The Final QM Report, published in month 36 (Deliverable D7.2) provides an analysis of participants and Partner feedback. This was very positive and was further demonstrated by the innovative and stimulating workshops and presentations from partner and course participants at the final INQUIRE conference, held at Kew Gardens, London UK on July 9thand 10th 2013 and attended by 124 participants from 13 countries. The Final External Evaluation report, submitted in the final month 36 (November 2013) additionally demonstrated very positive outcomes for the project.
Development of a Community of Practice between Partners
The Consortium Partners quickly developed and maintained an excellent Community of Practice during the three years of the project. The success of this was in part due to the very good support from the QM team and full Management Board. Communication was a strong focus for the project team and was very well managed by BGCI. This was built on regularly through the 5 partner meetings, Train the Trainers course and final conference held during the project period. Many good friendships were established and the opportunities to share best practice face to face, discuss common problems and successes was valued very highly by all partners. Partners are still communicating regularly post project and are actively seeking new inter-European joint project / programme collaborations for the future.
Impact through establishment of National Advisory Groups (NAG)
The National Advisory Groups (NAG) were established in the early project months and continued to meet and support partners within their countries throughout the project period. Most partners had 2 meetings per year; a few had just one often due to availability of the AG members. Advice included how to integrate the courses into the national teacher training mechanisms, how best to promote courses, on the structure and content of courses and where to find appropriate resources and other support. The NAGs were established with experts in the field of formal and informal science education and were influential in encouraging regional take up and curriculum input through their contact as well as effective at adding value to the partner course delivery and evaluation by sharing their broad expertise with partners.
Snowballing the INQUIRE idea: Train the Trainers and Dissemination
Besides the partner Train the Trainers course run in Obergurgl, where 57 educators were trained in IBSE delivery and processes, the 15 Train the Trainers courses delivered through the project engaged over 285 participants, snowballing the project aims and objectives further. Participants were from a range of professional backgrounds and included not only educators from botanic gardens, science centres, natural history museums, zoos and environmental NGO’s but also secondary teachers, primary school teachers, teacher trainers and representatives of Educational authorities.
The dissemination of the Inquire aims and objectives was managed through a variety of media across the project period. Besides the many and varied written texts, either published in printed format or on-line, partners attended and offered dissemination activities at 56 International conferences / events and 135 national conferences /events. The Inquire co-ordinator participated in several other IBSE linked EU project meetings and events as well as joining ProConet and was therefore able to ensure cross project dissemination. The conference, organised by BGCI and KEW and held at Kew on 9-10th July 2013 also attracted 124 delegates from 13 countries disseminating best practice and project outcomes more widely. Four other EU funded projects (PATHWAY, Natural Europe, GreeNET and S-TEAM.) were also represented at the conference- broadening the experience of all project partners and opening up new avenues for collaboration in the future. The published Train the Trainers and Inquire course manuals and activity booklet will additionally support this process.

Potential Impact:
Snowballing the INQUIRE idea: Train the Trainers and Dissemination
Besides the partner Train the Trainers course run in Obergurgl, where 57 educators were trained in IBSE delivery and processes, the 15 Train the Trainers courses delivered through the project engaged over 285 participants, snowballing the project aims and objectives further. Participants were from a range of professional backgrounds and included not only educators from botanic gardens, science centres, natural history museums, zoos and environmental NGO’s but also secondary teachers, primary school teachers, teacher trainers and representatives of Educational authorities.
The dissemination of the Inquire aims and objectives was managed through a variety of media across the project period. Besides the many and varied written texts, either published in printed format or on-line, partners attended and offered dissemination activities at 56 International conferences / events and 135 national conferences /events. The Inquire co-ordinator participated in several other IBSE linked EU project meetings and events as well as joining ProConet and was therefore able to ensure cross project dissemination. The conference, organised by BGCI and KEW and held at Kew on 9-10th July 2013 also attracted 124 delegates from 13 countries disseminating best practice and project outcomes more widely. Four other EU funded projects (PATHWAY, Natural Europe, GreeNET and S-TEAM.) were also represented at the conference- broadening the experience of all project partners and opening up new avenues for collaboration in the future. The published Train the Trainers and Inquire course manuals and activity booklet will additionally support this process.

List of Websites:
WWW.inquirebotany.org