Mariada Muciaccia, Italy
Mariada has taught chemistry, biology and earth science since 1981, and currently works in Rome – where she also participated in an intensive Amgen Teach workshop earlier this year. Her objective was to learn how best to apply inquiry-based techniques to students between 16 and 18. "Amgen Teach enhanced my confidence and ability to use inquiry-based teaching," she shared.
As well as boosting her confidence, Mariada says that Amgen Teach has provided important lessons for her approach to inquiry-based learning – for example, helping to guide students, rather than directing them. Taking the role of the students themselves, teachers participating in Amgen Teach workshops had to design experiments to detect vitamin C in various foods. Rather than being a "cookbook activity that requires students to simply follow the steps, verifying information that is already possessed," says Mariada, they had to think for themselves – and learn through their mistakes.
Back in her own classroom, Mariada has made a number of changes to her approach. She gives students more responsibility and pays more attention to "formative assessment" – implementing feedback to modify the ongoing teaching process. "Teaching and learning in that way are interactive. I can adapt my work to match their needs. In fact, I can also identify the misconceptions in the students' minds (a huge problem in science education,) and help students overcome them," she explains.
Mariada has many examples of where this approach has scored successes with her students. And in all of them, she is keen to underline the importance of experimenting – and sometimes failing. She believes that making mistakes and learning from those mistakes helps make the lessons learned more memorable for her students, as well as more enjoyable. "Working in this way makes us feel like little researchers or little scientists, full of curiosity and desire to learn and expand our knowledge," she says.