KiP – Kids Participation in Educational Research

Inquiry learning in life science research projects

Project Goal 1: Research with scientists and learning about scientific research

KiP was a didactic research and development project: Students from eight schools participated in research and learning in five life science research projects (neurobiology, environmental research, marine biology, forensic biology, and evolutionary biology). One main scientific goal of the KiP project was to investigate the learning processes of all involved participants. At the beginning, a team of specialized pedagogues evaluated the perspectives of the three participating groups of the project and their attitudes toward research in the life sciences in a series of individual and group interviews. Part of this data were analyzed and interpreted together with the students. The conceptions, which students had about research, fluctuated between theoretical formulations and very picturesque descriptions of science. KiP provided students and teachers with the opportunity to differentiate their own ideas about the life sciences by participating in research projects as well as the chance to learn about biology as a science (“Nature of Science”).

Project Goal 2: Participation and Sustainability of KiP

A further goal of KiP was the mutual development of a model based on the empirical research conducted over the course of the project. The model helped serve future cooperation projects in school classes at the Faculty for Life Sciences (“Model 2010”). Teachers were working with the scientists to establish the basic conditions for participation in research projects. Preliminary results were presented, exchanged and discussed by the students, scientists, and teachers within the framework of a reflection workshop on Dec. 5 and 6, 2008. The plans (“inventions”) suggested by the students, teachers, and scientists, as well as their mutual understanding of the research (“Communities of Practice”) yielded the groundwork for a knowledgeable and informed development of the “Model 2010”. The data gathered over the course of the projects were condensed into several individual case studies. These was validated by all members involved. A regular monitoring of the process together with formative evaluations should guarantee that enough space is created for eye-to-eye meetings between teachers, students, and scientists. Our first experiences had an optimistic overtone. Beginning in December 2009, an international Advisory Board was set up to make recommendations and to ensure the quality of the project.

This project has been completed.