Once the problem/issue/challenge/wonder is identified and formulated, and the foundation of the student’s missions therefore are clear, considerations regarding how to find things out must be done. For that purpose, five general types of methods of investigation in science are briefly explained below. The descriptions are heavily inspired by the Danish site MetodeLab.
Your role as a teacher
- Read, Ask and Search for information.This is about seeking knowledge and information in books, online or asking questions to peers or the teacher and in a more formal way through interviews. The teacher’s role is to provide and point out for the students the relevant and adequate sources and materials.The interview is a more specific method of its own. Teacher’s role is here to guide the students to prepare the interview (interview guide) in order to ask relevant questions as well as how to conduct the interview.
Think also on 5 W and 1 H questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How
- Trial and error
In this type of method, the main emphasis is on finding a concrete solution to a practical problem or a satisfactory answer to a question, and it lends itself to learning processes where ideas can be tested and rejected intuitively and without major systematics.
When you look for specific things or reactions in specific ways in the quest to find differences, similarities, details, and patterns you observe. Observations are careful recordings of what one senses and they can involve all the senses and all sorts of equipment to amplify them.
Models are simplistic, manageable representations of selected parts of the real world and they can be the point of departure for the student’s missions, the local area thus serves as the exemplification of the model or part of it. In this way, the model becomes a predictive tool and may help generate ideas on what and how to investigate.
When you do an experiment, it is to investigate relationships between a particular cause and effect. In an experiment, you only change one variable and keep all other variables constant. An experiment you can also call a fair test.Traditionally when we think of the experiment as a concept it is something that belongs in a lab. However, experiments can very well be carried out as fieldwork. This is in particular important to keep in mind in connection with open science schooling and student’s missions.
Before next step
The five types of methods provide a framework from which you can get the students started and guide them in order to develop their investigational awareness and competencies. The aims are that the students are able to formulate questions they can answer in scientific ways and they should be clear to go with their own research design and have ideas to collect data in a scientific way. That is, according to their level.
You can read more in the guide