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ESCALATE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 20790
Funded under: FP6-SOCIETY
Country: Israel

Learning explores new frontiers

New ideas in education, based on argumentative communication and enquiry-based techniques, may improve how students think and learn about science.
Learning explores new frontiers
New trends in learning that encourage critical thinking and develop the mind have recently taken the limelight in educational circles. One of these is argumentation-based learning, which focuses on learning through argumentative reasoning and argumentative communication. Another is the enquiry-based approach where students experiment with science and create relevant models. Both these approaches have been seen as very important in learning about science.

The EU-funded project 'Enhancing science appeal in learning through argumentative interaction' (Escalate) combined technology with education to integrate argumentative and enquiry-based strategies. This was based on the Digalo tool developed in a previous project, represented by a graphical computer-based platform in which participants collaboratively construct an argument. It was also based on the Microworlds set of tools that enables learning through manipulation, construction and deconstruction of virtual objects and their relationships.

In effect, the project team worked towards creating attractive science learning environments enhanced by argumentation-based methods and tools where students engage in representation, construction and experimentation through digital artefacts. Escalate implemented the framework in several schools, science museums and other science learning environments across several countries. It built a critical mass of teachers through training and prepared guidelines on launching similar initiatives in other parts of Europe.

The framework proved particularly successful in Israel and the United Kingdom where teachers were recruited through workshops. Other participant countries, on the other hand, seemed to be less prepared to integrate such a complex framework into their educational system, revealing areas of weakness to be explored. On another level, the system was tested at university level, allowing students to to examine theoretical ideas.

Overall, the Escalate project introduced new educational ideas and paved the way for bridging traditional systems with its modern framework. The field is now open for exploration in this direction, allowing education to grow in new ways.

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