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Institute of Education

SOLEVA, Scientific Evaluation of the Project “Self-Organized Learning (SOL) at Zurich Secondary Schools – New Forms of Teaching and Learning”

Duration: 2010-2012

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Katharina Maag Merki

Cooperation partners: Prof. Dr. Kurt Hofer und Prof. Dr. Erich Ramseier, University of Teacher Education Bern, Center for Research and Development

Link to the webpage of SOLEVA

The project “Self-Organized Learning (SOL) at Zurich Secondary Schools – New Forms of Teaching and Learning” is being carried out in Zurich Gymnasium (academically oriented secondary) schools on behalf of the Zurich Directorate of Education in the 2010/2011 school year. In this context, the Institute of Education (in the Chair of Prof. Maag Merki), in cooperation with the University of Teacher Education Bern, Center for Research and Development, is carrying out the external scientific evaluation as an inter-university research group.

Self-organized learning is seen as a key interdisciplinary competency that should be cultivated throughout school so that students develop the abilities required to independently master complex tasks and challenges in academic and professional life. Past studies at Gymnasium schools have found, however, that learners only possess cross-curricular competencies to a limited degree. In the framework of the SOL project of the Directorate of Education, all of Zurich’s Gymnasium schools have conceptualized a range of support programs to address this problem.

The SOL evaluation (SOLEVA) seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. To what extent can the SOL project make a contribution to promoting students’ capacities for self-organized learning?
  2. How are the SOL project and its effects perceived on the different levels (students, teachers, schools, canton)?
  3. To what extent do the results and experiences derived from the SOL project and the pilot projects at the schools contribute to school and teaching development, and to the further improvement of Gymnasium-level education (structure and conception, curricular foundation of SOL)?

These questions will be answered by using a multi-level model to perform a multidimensional analysis of the effects and processes. Four different – and in part complementary – methodological procedures will be used to this end. A key focus will be placed on studying the learning effects on students. The study will have a quasi-experimental design and will use a learning strategy knowledge test as well as a set of instruments for measuring habitual learning strategies, increased learning, and the capacity for self-directed learning, comparing the results to those of classes not participating in the SOL project. The resulting data will be supplemented by interviews with relevant project actors, by the analysis of school documents and the results of the schools self evaluation, by a workshop involving key actors that will enable communicative validation of the results. Finally, an integral analysis performed at the end of the evaluation will provide a broader synthesis of the results.

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