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This paper discusses research on activity structure design in a project-based science classroom and efforts to adapt designs from this setting to an after-school program involving historical inquiry. Common activity structures such as classroom lessons and Initiation-Reply-Evaluation (I-R-E) sequences are important cultural tools that help students and teachers accomplish everyday activities but they are not well adapted to open-ended projects. This paper demonstrates how alternative activity structures scaffold children's performance of complex, open-ended projects. For the activity setting of a project-based earth science class, activity structures at two different time scales support students in accomplishing scientific research. On a more long-term scale, a milestone activity structure works by laying out a small set of interim material artifacts that students turn in over a period of weeks, each of which feeds into portions of the artifact that is the final product and milestone--a science research report. On a shorter time scale, the repetition of Bid-Negotiation-Implementation-Evaluation (B-N-I-E) and Question-Clarification many times helps the teacher guide students in their work while requiring that students remain active. For the activity setting of an after-school history-web club, adapting the milestone activity structure across disciplines presents a number of hurdles because it depends on a discipline-specific task analysis, but the B-N-I-E discourse sequence seems generally adaptable to a wide range of inquiry-oriented work. Contains 30 references. (Author/PVD)

Descriptors: Active Learning, Extracurricular Activities, History Instruction, Inquiry, Learning Strategies, Research Design, Research Methodology, Science Education, Secondary Education, Student Projects, Teaching Methods

Autor: Polman, Joseph L.


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