Widely acclaimed Laureate Professor John Hattie recently told NSW Education Department Secretary Mark Scott that there is much to learn from the period students have spent learning remotely at home.
Professor Hattie referred to this shift as “kind of like an unplanned experiment” in which “teachers have been asked to take on an incredible load and switch to a new way of teaching”.
“I’m pretty optimistic that we’re going to make a full recovery from this, and in many cases, there is going to be even some benefits from what’s happened,” he said.
To identify these benefits, researchers from Charles Sturt University have now begun evaluating new teaching practices for mathematics and science brought about by COVID-19-enforced home-schooling.
The researchers are seeking teachers, parents and guardians of primary school-aged children to participate in a study into the impact of this massive shift on students’ ability to learn science and mathematics.
Dr Jacquie Tinkler and Mr Steve Murphy, Wagga Wagga-based lecturers in Charles Sturt’s School of Education, will lead the research project, which is aimed at learning how at-home teaching of mathematics and science was facilitated during lockdown and identifying new and effective teaching practices for these subjects.
According to Murphy, STEM subjects are best taught using hands-on, collaborative activities – things that are difficult to do during at-home learning.
When schools were closed in accordance with COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, teachers, parents and guardians were required to adopt alternative teaching techniques.
The research team hopes to gain an understanding of what those techniques were and to evaluate their effectiveness.
Researchers are calling on primary school teachers, and parents and guardians of primary school-aged children, to share their experiences.
Murphy said all feedback about at-home teaching of science and mathematics – both positive and negative – would provide valuable insights.
“You don’t have to have had all positive experiences in teaching or assisting children with maths and science learning,” he said.
“The challenging experiences are also very informative”.
He said both teachers and parents were “thrown in the deep end” with the sudden move to online schooling, and had to work out ways of helping their students and/or children with their school work.
“This research has the potential to identify ways of effectively teaching maths and science in an online space, as well as ways for parents to better assist their children in their at-home learning in the future”.