Unit 3 Curriculum Design Principles for Science Inquiry

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ETAP623 : Unit 3 Curriculum Design Principles for Science Inquiry

Science Inquiry

Unit 1 Introduction

Unit 2 How to Implement Inquiry in Science Teaching

Unit 3

Unit 4 Inquiry in Project-based Science classrooms

Unit 5 Wrap up and Evaluation


Learning Objectives of this unit

By the end of this unit, you should be able to:

Understand the significance of designing curriculum for extended inquiry projects Understand the concepts of seven principles of developing curriculums; Analysis the given projects that exemplifies the using of seven principles on developing curriculums; Choose to discuss extended inquiry projects with peers.


The reform of science education needs to address the full range of issues: curriculum and pedagogy, management and policy, teacher professional development, new learning technologies and community engagement. Among these issues, how technology can be embedded in science curricula is an important one.

The researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) and the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) have been work together to take the challenge for imbedding technology use in urban schools.

To meet this challenge, it became necessary to develop materials that simultaneously are suitable for use in schools that serve diverse populations, promote inquiry, are based in research on thinking and learning, and make extensive use of learning technologies as the vehicle for students to develop deep understanding of scientific conceps and processes.

Assumptions for designing curriculum materials

The foundation of curriculum design principles are derived from Social constructivism, an approach to learning in which students learn concepts or construct meaning about ideas through their interactions with and interpretations of their world, including essential interactions with others. Four salient features are fundamentals to this theoretical perspective:

  • active construction
  • situated cognition
  • community
  • discourse

Curriculum Principles

Seven curriculum design principles are derived from the conception of social constructivism and other important components of curriculum development. These principles provide a foundation for the design of inquiry curriculum projects. Table 1 presents seven design principles.

The curriculums to be developed for extended inquiry projects should have been based upon the following principles:

  • Context
  • National standard
  • Inquiry
  • Collaboration and student discourse
  • Learning tools
  • Artifacts
  • Scaffolds

Click  "Seven Principles of Developing Curriculum Materials.html" "Seven Principles of Developing Curriculum Materials">here </a> to get to know the concept of each principles.

How to use seven principles on developing curriculum materials

Here is an example project illustrating how the desighn principles are manifested in a curriculum project.
What affects the quality of air in my community?

To read the details, please refer to the article below:

Singer, J., Marx, R. W., Krajcik, J., & Chambers, C. J. (2000). "http://www.leaonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/S15326985EP3503_3?journalCode=ep">Constructing extended inquiry projects: Curriculum materials for science education reform</a>. Educational Psychologist, 35(3), 165-178. (Access restricted).

Task 1:  discuss with your group about the seven principles.

1. Do you have any problems on understanding the meaning of each principles?
2. Among these seven principles, what principle is the most important one?  

Task 2: Case study

Read two middle school curriculum projects using the curriculum and pedagogy principles described above, choose one of them to do the analysis: how the principles could be carried out in this projects? Please submit your result in the part of "comment" at the bottom of this page.

  • Communicable Diseases - Eighth Grade: The Communicable Disease Project explores the questions: Can good friends make me sick? This driving question issued throughout the unit to tie the biology the students are learning to a larger issue that directly affects them. Throughout this unit, students learn crucial biology behind different communicable diseases, including the immune system, disease transmission, and sexually transmitted disease. Students use a variety of technologies including modeling software, digital library resources, and simulation tools (smart badges).
  • Simple Machines - Sixth Grade: Designed for 6th grade students, the project explores the question "How can I move big things?" The learner develops an integrated understanding of applied and resisting forces, the types and workings of
    the six simple machines, and mechanical advantage, in the context of exploring howmachines help people build large structures. The project integrates the use ofprobeware (i.e., force and motion probes).


Seven curriculum design principles: context, standard based, inquiry, collaboration, learning tools, artifacts, scaffolds

Preparation  for next unit

Before moving onto Unit 4, please think about what project can we use on inquiry-based science teaching.  Write down your thoughts - you'll use these later.

Click here to go to Unit 4 Inquiry in Project-based Science classrooms