Providing students with a sense of purpose by adapting a professional practice

H.B. Westbroek, C.W.J.M. Klaassen, A.M.W. Bulte, A. Pilot

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    This article reports on a design study aimed at achieving that students experience their learning as meaningful. Two conditions for meaningful activities were identified: (1) students should be motivated to attain a certain goal and (2) they should have rudimentary conceptual and procedural knowledge of how to attain that goal. Together, these were expected to serve as an advance organizer for functional activities. In a professional practice, professionals know more or less how the activities they perform are going to contribute to the objective they want to achieve. We expected that this structure of means-end relationships could be adapted to yield advance organizers for educational use. This idea emerged from two previous research cycles. To explore the idea we chose to design and evaluate an instructional version of the practice of monitoring water quality for 14-15 year old students doing pre-university education. The evaluation results show that we succeeded in designing a proof of principle. This is only a first step in exploring the idea of designing instructional versions of professional practices. We conclude with a discussion on more theoretical implications of this idea.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)603-627
    Number of pages24
    JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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