Selbständiges Lernen in einer Lernwerkstatt als didaktischer Ansatz eines kompetenzorientierten Biologieunterrichts (im Projekt von Dr. Simone Abels) 
Stefanie Fellinger

The focus of the present investigation lies on the extent to which a “Lernwerstatt“, which is based on learning science principles, has benefits on the autonomy and selfdetermination of pupils. As a part of the postdoctoral project of Dr. Simone Abels, three classes of middle school were monitored by participant observation and video analysis. The achieved data was evaluated by a structured, systematically qualitative content analysis proposed by Mayring (2010). Based on a deductively defined categorysystem, the obtained data could be analysed in scales. The importance of autonomy support is shown in the „self- determination theory of motivation“ (Deci & Ryan 1993), which defines autonomy as one of three basic needs. The basic needs are necessary to achieve intrinsic motivation, which is responsible for an increase of high quality mental processing and deep cognitive engagement (Blumenfeld et al. 2006).

In reference to the Austrian educational standards and the competence model, pupils should be cognitively engaged during biology lessons and develop the ability to connect science-based investigations with scientific knowledge (Bifie 2011). Inquiry-based learning is one didactic way in which pupils get the possibility to experience scientific research at first hand (NRC 2000). This kind of science education provides the opportunity for various ways (four different levels can be distinguished) in which inquiry can be encouraged in a classroom (Abrams et al. 2008; Blanchard et al. 2010; Colburn 2000; Schwab 1962). Therefore, inquiry-based learning is ideal for classes with high diversity, in which integration and iclusion can be achieved (Abels & Markic 2013; Colburn 2010; Scruggs & Mastropierie 2007; Werning & Lütje-Klose 2007).

The present investigation showed that a “Lernwerkstatt“ as a kind of an inquirybased learning environment, encourages pupils to deal with personal interest issues, to ask questions, plan investigations, collect data by doing experiences, systematic observation or making accurate measurements, and to evaluate and interpret the results of their examination. A “Lernwerkstatt”, according to Level 3 of inquiry-based learning, is not only a way of competence-oriented biology class, but also gives pupils opportunities to experiment with science phenomena in a self-determined and autonomous way.

The results of the data analysis also demonstrate the difficulties for teachers to find the right balance between openness and structure, which are  requirements for a successful and target-aimed inquiry-based learning. Inquiry-based learning should be organised in a manner that gives the students the chance to activate their competences in an autonomous and self-determined way.

The present investigation appeals to every current and coming biology-teacher to deal with Inquiry-based Learning und to help their pupils to become scientifically educated, self-determined and autonomous individuals.

Diplomarbeit (.pdf)