Authors: Ana Cristina Blasco-Serrano (Zaragoza University), Teresa Coma (Zaragoza University), Ana Echevarría (Los Albares School)
CEIP Los Albares is a state school of Early Childhood and Primary education, situated in La Puebla de Alfinden, a small town, close to Zaragoza city. The educational identity of the school is based on the values of democracy, respect, solidarity, critical thinking and commitment to the community.
Through its participation in NEMESIS, a European project, the school aims at developing social innovation skills in pupils and, therefore, improving the social innovation responsibility. To do so, teachers have worked together to integrate and embed social innovation principles in their teaching practice.
With a strong focus on co-creation and other participatory methodologies, teachers, students and parents have joined forces to develop a set of social innovation competences: vision for a better world, responsible and critical thinking competences, empathy, self-efficacy, collective and creative problem solving, embracing diversity, collective efficacy, social resilience, digital social innovation competences, take the leap for value creation, organisation and mobilisation of resources, social communication competences, reflective learning, collaborative planning and democratic decision making.
Teachers want to understand their practices and improve them. For assessing pupils’ competence development, the teaching team collaborates with Zaragoza University researchers in what qualifies as an action research project (Kemmis & Mctaggart, 1988).
The research is a mix of qualitative and quantitative methodologies that complement each other, favoring the triangulation of information. Qualitative data is mainly collected through participant observation (Merrian, 2009) and a questionnaire yields quantitative information.
The qualitative research includes a wide range of tools. Teachers, as natural participants, and external researchers observe the action taking place in the Co-Lab sessions and in other NEMESIS activities. The external researchers keep a low profile so as not to disturb the interactions between participants. Teachers and researchers collect data in a field diary, in a reflexive way, analyzing the data from the first moment (Gibbs, 2012).
Data collection is complemented with semi-structured interviews. This tool allows in-depth exploration of the data collected by participant observation (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009). In the interviews, teachers, pupils and families express their perceptions, experiences, insights and feelings, and delve into the issues raised during the investigation (Spradley, 1979).
In this study, children are active agents, so narratives are another important tool to collect data (Prout, 2002; Punch, 2002). The narratives give children the opportunity to freely express their opinions and perceptions about the NEMESIS project (Hyvärinen, 2016). In combination with narratives, this study will also analyze children’s drawings and productions so that all children, even if they can not write, can express their perception of reality.
From a quantitative approach, a questionnaire (Creswell, Plano Clark, Gutmann, & Hanson, 2003) will be used to analyze the development of social innovation competencies at the beginning and at the end of NEMESIS project. The questionnaire will measure children’s self-perception of their competences, and this information will be compared with teachers’ perceptions.
The questionnaire has been co-designed with the management team of CEIP Los Albares. During 5 sessions we defined indicators for each competence and converted statements to pupil-friendly language.
The survey was created using Google Forms, which allows viewing and managing responses in a functional and immediate way. This research instrument could be used by other schools to, in this way, generalize the findings.
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