Journal of Health Education Research & Development

ISSN: 2380-5439

Open Access

Applying Liberating Structures (LS) to Improve Teaching in Health and Sciences: Pilot Study Results


Alesia Ferguson, Robert Ulmer, Keith Harris, Ilias Kavouras and Ashley Richison

Background: Science teachers from multiple kindergartens through twelfth grade (K-12) schools participated in a two-day environmental health training introducing them to newer methods of engagement and interaction adaptable for the classroom environment. This paper describes the use of Liberating Structures (LS) in the two day training for interaction between trainers and K-12 teachers, and the LS structures preferred by these K-12 teachers. These liberating structures are also compared to current engagement and learning techniques or strategies commonly used by teachers in any classroom and to encourage and promote science and health education that could ultimately improve the health and well-being of individuals and families.

Results: Teachers describe the selection of liberating structures they felt would be most useful in a classroom environment for teaching science and health related topics, promoting critical thinking and developing ownership of environmental and health science topics. The most popular structure that appealed to teachers was the ‘1-2-4-ALL’ structure. In general, the teachers felt that this structure could be useful to the critical thinking process as students could use this structure to, first, independently think about a science project idea and then develop this idea in a small and then large group, progressively. “Shift and Share” and ‘Impromptu Networking’ were also appealing as structures for the scientific inquiry method, where students could be led through the critical thinking process to develop and test a challenging science or health related project hypothesis.

Conclusion: This was a pilot study to look at the potential for use of LS in the classroom and for teaching science and health through improved engagement. Further research is recommended to determine which of these structures are better matched with the scientific method, and education and improved learning in the classroom. Sustained follow-up training for teachers on these strategies is also recommended with more intense training and practice, along with evaluation on using these structures in the classroom. The use and application of these liberating structures in community setting to promote ownership over environmental and health issue is also encouraged.


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