We asked some of our Go-Lab teachers to give us their insight on how Go-Lab affected their teaching methods, their school environment and their students.
Here is what César Marques, Physics and Chemistry Teacher and Project Coordinator at the Professional School of Almada, Portugal (Escola Profissional de Almada) has to say.
In early 2014, I saw some information online about Go-Lab, asking for schools and teachers to join as project pilots. In the same publication, it was said that the project used Inquiry-Based Science Education methodology (IBSE). Back then, I was searching for solutions to implement in my school that could improve the students' success in Physics and Chemistry and decided, after talking with the school board and my subject colleague (Luís Esturrado), to register my colleague, my school and myself to be pilots. With my colleague, we decided to implement Go-Lab and change our work methodology to IBSE in all grades and classes. We had positive results since the beginning, with all classes. In contrast to the "old times", we started working with motivated students who brought their computers to class and slowly started to trust us, teachers. The students started asking questions, testing hypothesis, working in groups, etc. Discussions about behaviour and class attention stopped and started being about science and how science works. Using discussion moments, and after conquering the students' trust, we have detected misconception concepts as never before. Students started working in real situation context, searching for scientific evidence to prove, or not, their hypothesis.
Using Go-Lab I created and/or adapted inquiry learning scenarios with real experiments and/or virtual simulations. Students work in groups and I choose to promote group and class discussions (mediated by me) to explain physics and chemistry phenomena, misconception detections and I guide the activities using the scientific methodology cycle to build explanations of the natural phenomena. I use guided IBSE in my classes and, in some cases, a more open IBSE methodology.
The Go-Lab impact has been present in our school since 2014 as we still use the platform. The Go-Lab/Next-Lab project gives us flexible tools that can be adapted to different styles of teaching and learning methodologies. Regarding curriculum improvements, I emphasize the improvement of ICT competencies, scientific competence, investigation competence, social skills, students' interest in learning and student-teacher relationship. For example, the fact that students remember the activities 6 months after doing the work, the huge improvement in the student-teacher relationship, the end of “afraid to fail” situation (after starting to trust the teacher) and the identification and deconstruction of misconceptions (because they get over the fear of failing).