Successful PhD defences by two doctoral candidates, partially supported by the SciCar Project

Tapashi Binte Mahmud Chowdhury and Helen Semilarski

07 October 2022 at the White Hall of the University of Tartu Museum, Lossi 25, Tartu, Estonia

Two doctoral candidates from UT Centre for Science Education (CSE): Tapashi Binte Mahmud Chowdhury and Helen Semilarski have defended their PhDs on 07 October 2022. Their studies have been partially supported by the SciCar project. Their works have been featured in Õpetajate Leht.

The title of Tapashi’s dissertation is ‘Establishing trans-contextual science education in promoting active informed citizenry for societal development‘. Her research focuses on developing and justifying a theoretically sound, 4-phase, science teaching learning approach. The approach aims to address the need of promoting a scientifically literate, and actively engaged, collective body of citizenry. In addition to identifying teacher perceived importance and current practices, the research also conceptualises and justifies the approach from science education researcher, curriculum developer and teacher educator points of view.
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Tapashi Binte Mahmud Chowdhury

Helen Semilarski’s dissertation is entitled, ‘Improving students’ self-efficacy towards acquiring disciplinary and interdisciplinary core ideas and 21st century skills for promoting meaningful science learning’. The aim of her dissertation has been to determine the effectiveness of student-led expansion of disciplinary core idea (DCI) and interdisciplinary core idea (ICI) maps, which can contribute to promote students’ promotion of meaningful science learning. Findings have shown that Students have high perceived self-efficacy towards acquiring Life Science and Earth Science related disciplinary core ideas. The findings have also indicated that students have a lower self-efficacy towards acquiring more abstract disciplinary core ideas related to Chemistry and Physics. Students have indicated high perceived self-efficacy towards acquiring interdisciplinary core ideas, such as Models and Systems. Student perceived self-efficacy has been found to be lower in relation to the problem-solving skills and critical thinking. A concern has been raised since many challenging problems require strong problem-solving skills and critical thinking, which are also important to different careers. The essential characteristics for promoting student meaningful learning are: disciplinary and interdisciplinary core ideas, 21st century skills, dimensions of knowledge, knowledge integration (through mind mapping and concept mapping), and DCI and ICI maps. Students’ ability to expand DCI and ICI maps are seen as effective and supportive towards their learning in Life Science, Earth Science, and Models and Systems. Students seemed to be able to recall what they had learned in these areas more easily.
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Helen Semilarski
Photo courtesy: Lenne Lotta Põdra

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