The TEMI (Teaching Enquiry with Mysteries Incorporated) Project aims to work with schools across Europe to develop and implement innovative training programmes.
Its goal is to provide teachers with new resources and methods to teach STEM subjects using mysteries and discrepant events as a starting point.
A module was created containing 8 different units. Units were based on Bybee’s 5E Module of Inquiry: Engage; Explore; Explain; Elaborate and Evaluate.
The “Engagement” stage focused on the use of discrepant events or mysteries to follow the TEMI Approach.
The modules follows the same lesson structure as the previous Transition Year modules created at UL but the lessons were designed with the TEMI approach using mysteries to engage students. The TEMI Project is an EU running project from 2013-2016.
The TEMI-based TY module offers schools a self-contained module that covers a range of topics from Biology, Physics, Chemistry and includes a student workbook and teachers guide.
The module shows teachers how to carry out inquiry effectively by “bringing to the fore the sense of mystery, exploration and discovery that is at the core of all scientific practice” (TEMI, 2013). The TEMI method of teaching can be linked in to many topics of science and can be extended to both Junior Cycle and Senior Cycle science courses.
- Does the TEMI approach promote student’s motivation to explore science subjects further?
- Does the Transition Year TEMI module encourage students’ intentions to pursue a Leaving Cert Science subject?
The TEMI innovations (what makes TEMI unique)
- The use of mysteries to engage students.
- The use of the 5E model to structure inquiry.
- The use of showmanship to sustain student engagement.
- The use of the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) model to develop students’ inquiry skills.
The first innovation involves using ‘Mysteries’ to create curiosity and engage students. According to Bybee and Landes (1990),
“the objective in a constructivist program is often to challenge students’ current conceptions by providing data that conflict with students’ current thinking or experiences that provide an alternate way of thinking about objects and phenomena”
The 5E cycle is a model to help teachers and students develop understanding of scientific concepts through a process of enquiry (TEMI, 2013) and includes the stages: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate….careful planning and preparation is required in order for the event to be successful…. the “pedagogical awards are worth it”.
After a mystery or discrepant event, the follow-up is equally important. It is not enough to show the students a mystery or discrepant event and just leave it at that, they need to explore the different explanations in order for them to come up with the answers. It is vital that the students learn from the process and engage with the material and not just the initial mystery.
The third TEMI innovation is the use ‘Showmanship’ to help to introduce the mystery and sustain students’ efforts in inquiry-based learning. TEMI CPD workshops use performers like magicians or actors to support teachers to transform science lessons using a range of showmanship techniques.
The final innovation is the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) model to embed and develop inquiry: this involves three stages encapsulated in the statement – ‘I do it, We do it, You do it’.
In principle it is a transition from the teacher as the master, through the student as apprentice, to the student as the problem solver (TEMI, 2013). Gradually increasing the challenge to students aids in the development of their problem-solving and reasoning skills.
Results following their investigation:
Research question 1
The key findings of the research showed that
- using the TEMI approach has significant motivational effects
- students were willing and eager to explore scientific concepts further.
- The students were asked to state if they were encouraged to carry out further investigations on their own after seeing a discrepant or puzzling event. The results of the researcher’s pre-questionnaire showed that 20% of students stated ‘Yes’; in the researcher’s post-questionnaire, the students were asked the same question after doing the TY TEMI module and 64% chose‘Yes’, an increase of 44%.
- In the other 6 PSSTs’ pre-questionnaires, 37.5% of the students voted‘Yes’, and in the post-questionnaire 57% stated that they were encouraged to carry out their own investigations after a puzzling event, a 19.5% increase.
- The teacher diaries also indicated that students were motivated to investigate themselves after the initial TEMI lesson, and 83.3% of the PSSTs stated that students learn more when they are given responsibility for their own learning.
Research question 2
There was also a large increase in the number of students who intended to carry out a Leaving Certificate (LC) science subject after doing TY module, from both the PSSTs and the researcher’s data.
- In the researcher’s pre-questionnaire only 44% of students stated they were interested in doing a Leaving Certificate science subject, whereas after the module the figure was 68%, a 22% increase.
- The results from the PSSTs students’ responses were similar: in the pre-questionnaire, 44% of their students wanted to pursue one or more science subjects in Leaving Certificate, compared to 64.1% of students after doing the module. This was despite the short time period the researcher/PSSTs had with their class groups. This implies that students’ interest in science is increased after the experience of the TY TEMI module.