Technical development of GeoSciTeach interface We will adopt an agile development process incorporating strong testing methodologies for system development and the implementation of the prototype.
A participant design methodology will be undertaken through a series of workshop sessions with trainee science teachers and tutors. This will ensure that the end users are directly involved with the specifying the elements of interaction of the application and in identifying the main components of the user interface design. These will be refined through iterative development and release cycles.
Testing will be carried out employing the JUnit framework and additional instrumentation of the software source code, following standard guidelines for smartphone applications. The design of the internal software system architecture including data management and communication with network services and GIS repositories, will be based on the best-practice designs developed during the Urban Tapestries and Sensory Threads projects and will be based on participatory sensing techniques.
Design and development of science fieldwork activities using GeoSciTeach This will take place alongside the technical development, using participant design methodologies through the workshop sessions. Design will be based on pedagogical principles to address the needs of trainee teachers in developing their geo-spatial skills, e.g. by providing easier steps for teachers to identify geo-spatial data files used; and by exploring how increasingly complex visualisation shape interpretation of data and/or scientific phenomena. Design will also draw on descriptions of ‘spatial thinking’ as a foundation for activity design (e.g., location – understanding formal and informal methods of specifying “where”; network – understanding the importance of connections).
Evaluation: will take place throughout the project in the following ways:
Phase 1 will investigate teacher trainee skill development, and their ability to manage and modify their own activity, as the interface develops. To do this we will run focus group sessions with trainee teachers using a combination of: observations of trainee’s using GeoSciTeach; talk-aloud interviews using screen shots of the GIS interface; and focus group discussions. This data will be supplemented with semi-structured interviews and self-ethnography reports during the design and development process.
Phase 2 A case study will be undertaken with 5 trainee participants while on their ‘out-of-classroom learning programme’ at Kew Gardens, where they will be required to develop an activity using GeoSciTeach for this context (see scenarios for possible examples). It will investigate the trainees’ ability to use the application in a teaching practice setting, and the effectiveness of GeoSciTeach for supporting the development of geo-spatial based scientific learning activities. Data will be collected through interviews with trainees and observations of them and their students working with GeoSciTeach at Kew Gardens.
Phase 3: will take place towards the end of the project to evaluate the role of GeoSciTeach for PGCE teaching. It will comprise follow up interviews with PGCE tutors, and with participant teacher trainees and to gain insight into their experience with GeoSciTeach, and their intended future use of geospatial tools in teaching practice. This will inform future curriculum development and to assess ongoing use after the end of training.