Instructional Science

Futurising science education: students’ experiences from a course on futures thinking and quantum computing

3 weeks 4 days ago
Abstract

To promote students’ value-based agency, responsible science and sustainability, science education must address how students think about their personal and collective futures. However, research has shown that young people find it difficult to fully relate to the future and its possibilities, and few studies have focused on the potential of science education to foster futures thinking and agency. We report on a project that further explored this potential by developing future-oriented science courses drawing on the field of futures studies. Phenomenographic analysis was used on interview data to see what changes upper-secondary school students saw in their futures perceptions and agentic orientations after attending a course which adapted futures thinking skills in the context of quantum computing and technological approaches to global problems. The results show students perceiving the future and technological development as more positive but also more unpredictable, seeing their possibilities for agency as clearer and more promising (especially by identifying with their peers or aspired career paths), and feeling a deeper connection to the otherwise vague idea of futures. Students also felt they had learned to question deterministic thinking and to think more creatively about their own lives as well as technological and non-technological solutions to global problems. Both quantum physics and futures thinking opened new perspectives on uncertainty and probabilistic thinking. Our results provide further validation for a future-oriented approach to science education, and highlight essential synergies between futures thinking skills, agency, and authentic socio-scientific issues in developing science education for the current age.

Figuring out what works: learning and engaging with ideas about evolution within integrated informal learning environments

3 weeks 4 days ago
Abstract

Informal learning environments can be a fun and effective means of introducing visitors to a variety of topics in evolution. Our study examined 120 sixth-grade students’ conceptualisation of evolutionary ideas following three evolution-themed “Science Days” at ‘Nature Campus’—an informal learning environment in Central Israel comprised of a natural history museum, zoological and botanical gardens. The students visited Nature Campus in groups of twenty. After each science day, the students worked in teams of 4–5 to make a poster, based on five pictures representing topics from the learning environment. This poster-making process served as a knowledge integration activity, aimed at assisting students in organizing all the knowledge from each science day, and integrating it with knowledge from the previous science days. Observations of students’ discussions while making their posters and video recordings of the activities throughout the science days were used as a basis for conclusions regarding which events in the program were recalled as meaningful by the students. The ideas and concepts that arose during the students’ poster making process demonstrated knowledge drawn from multiple activities in which they had engaged on Nature Campus, reflecting an understanding of evolution-related concepts from the fields of paleontology and ecology. Our findings showed that concepts and ideas that were taught via hands-on, interactive, inquiry-based learning in an authentic environment were later featured most prominently in the students’ poster-making discussions.

How many words are enough? Investigating the effect of different configurations of a software scaffold for formulating scientific hypotheses in inquiry-oriented contexts

3 weeks 4 days ago
Abstract

We extended research on scaffolds for formulating scientific hypotheses, namely the Hypothesis Scratchpad (HS), in the domain of relative density. The sample comprised of secondary school students who used three different configurations of the HS: Fully structured, containing all words needed to formulate a hypothesis in the domain of the study; partially structured, containing some words; unstructured, containing no words. We used a design with two different measures of student ability to formulate hypotheses (targeted skill): A global, domain-independent measure, and a domain-specific measure. Students used the HS in an intervention context, and then, in a novel context, addressing a transfer task. The fully and partially structured versions of the HS improved the global measure of the targeted skill, while the unstructured version, and to a lesser extent, the partially structured version, favored student performance as assessed by the domain-specific measure. The partially structured solution revealed strengths for both measures of the targeted skill (global and domain-specific), which may be attributed to its resemblance to completion problems (partially worked examples). The unstructured version of the HS seems to have promoted schema construction for students who revealed an improvement of advanced cognitive processes (thinking critically and creatively). We suggest that a comprehensive assessment of scaffolding student work when formulating hypotheses should incorporate both global and domain-specific measures and it should also involve transfer tasks.

How preparation-for-learning with a worked versus an open inventing problem affect subsequent learning processes in pre-service teachers

3 weeks 4 days ago
Abstract

A worked-out or an open inventing problem with contrasting cases can prepare learners for learning from subsequent instruction differently regarding motivation and cognition. In addition, such activities potentially initiate different learning processes during the subsequent (“future”) learning phase. In this experiment (N = 45 pre-service teachers), we aimed to replicate effects of earlier studies on learning outcomes and, on this basis, to analyze respective learning processes during the future-learning phase via think-aloud protocols. The inventing group invented criteria to assess learning strategies in learning journals while the worked-example group studied the same problem in a solved version. Afterwards, the pre-service teachers thought aloud during learning in a computer-based learning environment. We did not find substantial motivational differences (interest, self-efficacy), but the worked-example group clearly outperformed their counterparts in transfer (BF+0 > 313). We found moderate evidence for the hypothesis that their learning processes during the subsequent learning phase was deepened: the example group showed more elaborative processes, more spontaneous application of the canonical, but also of sub-optimal solutions than the inventing group (BFs around 4), and it tended to focus more on the most relevant learning contents. Explorative analyses suggest that applying canonical solutions to examples is one of the processes explaining why working through the solution leads to higher transfer. In conclusion, a worked-out inventing problem seems to prepare future learning more effectively than an open inventing activity by deepening and focusing subsequent learning processes.

Learning to solve ill-defined statistics problems: does self-explanation quality mediate the worked example effect?

3 weeks 4 days ago
Abstract

Extensive research has established that successful learning from an example is conditional on an important learning activity: self-explanation. Moreover, a model for learning from examples suggests that self-explanation quality mediates effects of examples on learning outcomes (Atkinson et al. in Rev Educ Res 70:181–214, 2000). We investigated self-explanation quality as mediator in a worked examples—problem-solving paradigm. We developed a coding scheme to assess self-explanation quality in the context of ill-defined statistics problems and analyzed self-explanation data of a study by Schwaighofer et al. (J Educ Psychol 108: 982–1000, 2016). Schwaighofer et al. (J Educ Psychol 108: 982–1000, 2016) investigated whether the worked example effect depends on prior knowledge, working memory capacity, shifting ability, and fluid intelligence. In our study, we included these variables to jointly explore mediating and moderating factors when individuals learn with worked examples versus through problem-solving. Seventy-four university students (mean age = 23.83, SD = 5.78) completed an open item pretest, self-explained while either studying worked examples or solving problems, and then completed a post-test. We used conditional process analysis to test whether the effect of worked examples on learning gains is mediated by self-explanation quality and whether any effect in the mediation model depends on the suggested moderators. We reproduced the interaction effects reported by Schwaighofer et al. (J Educ Psychol 108: 982–1000, 2016) but did not detect a mediation effect. This might indicate that worked examples are directly effective because they convey a solution strategy, which might be particularly important when learning to solve problems that have no algorithmic solution procedure.

Detecting threshold concepts through Bayesian knowledge tracing: examining research skill development in biological sciences at the doctoral level

3 weeks 4 days ago
Abstract

Threshold concepts are transformative elements of domain knowledge that enable those who attain them to engage domain tasks in a more sophisticated way. Existing research tends to focus on the identification of threshold concepts within undergraduate curricula as challenging concepts that prevent attainment of subsequent content until mastered. Recently, threshold concepts have likewise become a research focus at the level of doctoral studies. However, such research faces several limitations. First, the generalizability of findings in past research has been limited due to the relatively small numbers of participants in available studies. Second, it is not clear which specific skills are contingent upon mastery of identified threshold concepts, making it difficult to identify appropriate times for possible intervention. Third, threshold concepts observed across disciplines may or may not mask important nuances that apply within specific disciplinary contexts. The current study therefore employs a novel Bayesian knowledge tracing (BKT) approach to identify possible threshold concepts using a large data set from the biological sciences. Using rubric-scored samples of doctoral students’ sole-authored scholarly writing, we apply BKT as a strategy to identify potential threshold concepts by examining the ability of performance scores for specific research skills to predict score gains on other research skills. Findings demonstrate the effectiveness of this strategy, as well as convergence between results of the current study and more conventional, qualitative results identifying threshold concepts at the doctoral level.

The collaborative discourse characteristics of high school students during a web-based module for a socioscientific issue

4 weeks 1 day ago
Abstract

In order to cultivate students to be able to participate in public affairs and make decisions about socioscientific issues (SSI), a web-based module was designed for students to collaboratively engage in the decision-making (DM) process. This study attempted to identify students’ discourse characteristics that might lead to formulating an evidence-based decision on SSI. Twenty-nine Grade 10 students were randomly divided into eight groups of three or four. The transcribed data of one case from each performance level were compared to investigate the interplay between groups’ DM performances and discourse characteristics. The results showed that the group that gained a high score on the DM group worksheet engaged in the metacognitive discussion for planning procedures of the module tools and in the conceptual exchanges to accomplish the tasks. The members of this group could initiate and extend ideas, provide prompts, and confirm or reject each other’s ideas, resulting in sustained interactive dialogs that allowed them to learn from one another. This indicated that students need to be encouraged to clarify the task goals, plan procedures, monitor their performance, and exchange their ideas actively. The implications of how collaborative discourse promote students’ SSI DM performance, and the better design and enactment of SSI modules are discussed.

How do higher education students regulate their learning with video modeling examples, worked examples, and practice problems?

1 month ago
Abstract

Presenting novices with examples and problems is an effective and efficient way to acquire new problem-solving skills. Nowadays, examples and problems are increasingly presented in computer-based learning environments, in which learners often have to self-regulate their learning (i.e., choose what type of task to work on and when). Yet, it is questionable how novices self-regulate their learning from examples and problems, and to what extent their choices match with effective principles from instructional design research. In this study, 147 higher education students had to learn how to solve problems on the trapezoidal rule. During self-regulated learning, they were free to select six tasks from a database of 45 tasks that varied in task format (video examples, worked examples, practice problems), complexity level (level 1, 2, 3), and cover story. Almost all students started with (video) example study at the lowest complexity level. The number of examples selected gradually decreased and task complexity gradually increased during the learning phase. However, examples and lowest level tasks remained relatively popular throughout the entire learning phase. There was no relation between students' total score on how well their behavior matched with the instructional design principles and learning outcomes, mental effort, and motivational variables.

Enhancing computational thinking skills of students with disabilities

1 month 3 weeks ago
Abstract

Computational thinking (CT) and computer science (CS) are becoming more widely adopted in K-12 education. However, there is a lack of focus on CT and CS access for children with disabilities. This study investigates the effect of the robot development process at the secondary school level on the algorithmic thinking and mental rotation skills of students with learning disabilities (LD). The study was conducted with the single-subject model and as an A-B-A design. In the study, the CT skill development of four students with LD (1 female, 3 male) was monitored throughout 13 weeks with the pre-treatment sessions running from weeks 1–4, treatment sessions running from weeks 5–9, and post-treatment sessions running from weeks 10–13. During the treatment sessions, robot design and programming implementations were performed. During these 13 sessions, the observer scored participants’ both algorithmic problem-solving and mental rotation skills. These skills are also required to use some other cognitive sub-skills (i.e., selective attention, processing speed) which were defined by ten special education experts at the beginning of the study. All these skills were evaluated according to how well the students performed the following four criteria: (1) To start to perform the instructions quickly (processing speed), (2) to focus on the task by filtering out distractions (selective attention), (3) to fulfill the task without having to have the instructions repeated, (4) to perform algorithmic problem-solving/mental rotation tasks without any help. Considering the results on the participants’ algorithmic problem-solving skills, a significant improvement was obtained in their skills after the treatment process. The improvement obtained in the participants’ mental rotation skills is another important result of the study. Considering the study results from a holistic perspective, it can be concluded that the robot development implementation, as educational technology, can be used to support the cognitive development of students with learning disabilities.

Using heuristic worked examples to promote solving of reality-based tasks in mathematics in lower secondary school

2 months 1 week ago
Abstract

This study examined whether learning with heuristic worked examples can improve students’ competency in solving reality-based tasks in mathematics (mathematical modeling competency). We randomly assigned 134 students in Grade 5 and 180 students in Grade 7 to one of three conditions: control condition (students worked on reality-based tasks), worked example condition (students studied worked examples representing a realistic process of problem-solving by fictitious students negotiating solutions to the tasks), and prompted worked example condition (students additionally received self-explanation prompts). In all three conditions, the students worked on the tasks individually and independently for 45 min. Dependent measures were mathematical modeling competency (number of adequate solution steps and strategies) and modeling-specific strategy knowledge. Results showed that although strategy knowledge could be improved through the intervention for fifth and seventh graders, modeling competency was improved only for seventh graders. The prompting of self-explanations had no additional effect for either fifth or seventh graders.

Concept map as a tool to assess and enhance students' system thinking skills

2 months 2 weeks ago
Abstract

Concept map (CM) is introduced as a useful tool for studying students’ system thinking (ST). However, it is more known to represent students’ knowledge of system components and organization and less recognized as a tool to examine and enhance students’ understanding about the underlying causal mechanisms in complex systems. In this study, through a mixed method approach, we investigated the potential of CM in demonstrating undergraduate students’ (n = 173) ST. We also conducted a comparative analysis to examine the effects of different scaffolding on developing students’ ST skills. Through a theoretical framework of causal patterns, we present a new perspective on what CM reveals about students’ ST and what are its limitations in showing system complexities. The results indicated that CM can provide a platform for students to practice causal mechanisms such as domino, mutual, relational, and cyclic causalities, and accordingly, work as a tool for teachers to examine students’ knowledge of such mechanisms. The results also showed that students improved in demonstrating ST by CM when they were scaffolded for showing causal mechanisms and building CM. Eventually, this study concludes that the CM is a highly relevant tool to increase and examine students’ ST skills. To this end, we found it is important to explicitly teach students about causal patterns and guide them to construct CM with an emphasis on showing the interconnection among concepts.

Noticing and weighing alternatives in the reflection of regular classroom teaching: Evidence of expertise using mobile eye-tracking

2 months 3 weeks ago
Abstract

Instructional videos are widely used to study teachers’ professional vision. A new technological development in video research is mobile eye-tracking (MET). It has the potential to provide fine-grained insights into teachers’ professional vision in action, but has yet been scarcely employed. We addressed this research gap by using MET video feedback to examine how expert and novice teachers differed in their noticing and weighing of alternative teaching strategies. Expert and novice teachers’ lessons were recorded with MET devices. Then, they commented on what they observe while watching their own teaching videos. Using a mixed methods approach, we found that expert and novice teachers did not differ in the number of classroom events they noticed and alternative teaching strategies they mentioned. However, novice teachers were more critical of their own teaching than expert teachers, particularly when they considered alternative teaching strategies. Practical implications for the field of teacher education are discussed.

Effects of interactive teacher-generated drawings on students’ understanding of plate tectonics

2 months 3 weeks ago
Abstract

We investigate an interactive teacher-generated drawing strategy in which the teacher constructs a drawing with the help of the students. The students contribute their ideas on how to visualize to-be-drawn concepts, embedded in an interactive process. The present study explored whether learning from a scientific text on plate tectonics could be enhanced by an interactive teacher-generated drawing strategy. A number of studies on student-generated drawings have shown that students have difficulties to accurately represent scientific information (i.e. Van Meter & Garner, 2005). One solution to such difficulties—providing external illustrations for comparison—has not always been helpful (Fiorella & Zhang, 2018), because students need support on how to process the provided illustrations. Ninety-four 8th-grade students (M = 13.34, SD = 0.50) participated in the study. Instructions varied according to a 2 × 2 factorial between-subjects design with “student-generated drawings” (yes, no) and “interactive teacher-generated drawings” (yes, no) as the two factors. The following conditions were applied: reading a scientific text; reading and creating drawings; reading and engaging in the interactive drawing process; reading and creating drawings as well as engaging in the interactive drawing process. Subsequently, the students answered questions about their comprehension (transfer, recall, and drawing). The interactive teacher-generated drawing groups (interactive teacher-generated drawing group, student-and-interactive teacher-generated drawing group) showed better transfer, recall, and drawing performance than the non-interactive groups (no-strategy group, student-generated drawing group). No effects were found for student-generated drawings on the immediate posttests. However, interactive teacher-generated drawings and student-generated drawings enhanced drawing performance in the long term. Interactive teacher-generated drawing can be seen as an effective strategy for fostering mental model building to enhance learning and understanding of scientific text.

Two comparative studies of computer simulations and experiments as learning tools in school and out-of-school education

2 months 3 weeks ago
Abstract

Interactive computer simulations and hands-on experiments are important teaching methods in modern science education. Especially for the communication of complex current topics with social relevance (socioscientific issues), suitable methods in science education are of great importance. However, previous studies could not sufficiently clarify the educational advantages and disadvantages of both methods and often lack adequate comparability. This paper presents two studies of direct comparisons of hands-on experiments and interactive computer simulations as learning tools in science education for secondary school students in two different learning locations (Study I: school; Study II: student laboratory). Using a simple experimental research design with type of learning location as between-subjects factor (NStudy I = 443, NStudy II = 367), these studies compare working on computer simulations versus experiments in terms of knowledge achievement, development of situational interest and cognitive load. Independent of the learning location, the results showed higher learning success for students working on computer simulations than while working on experiments, despite higher cognitive load. However, working on experiments promoted situational interest more than computer simulations (especially the epistemic and value-related component). We stated that simulations might be particularly suitable for teaching complex topics. The findings reviewed in this paper moreover imply that working with one method may complement and supplement the weaknesses of the other. We conclude that that the most effective way to communicate complex current research topics might be a combination of both methods. These conclusions derive a contribution to successful modern science education in school and out-of-school learning contexts.

The Effects of Group differentiation by students’ learning strategies

2 months 3 weeks ago
Abstract

This study analyses the effects of group differentiation by students’ learning strategies of around 1200 students in 46 classes from eight secondary schools in the Netherlands. In an experimental setup with randomization at the class level, division of students over three groups per class (an instruction-independent group, an average group, and an instruction-dependent group) is based on learning strategies, measures using the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). Each group is offered instruction fitting their own learning strategy. The results show that student performance is higher in classes where the differentiation was applied, and that these students score higher at some scales of the posttest of the questionnaire on motivation, metacognition and self-regulation. However, there are differences between classrooms from different teachers. Additional teacher questionnaires confirm the discrepancy in teacher attitudes towards the intervention.

Examining ontological and self-monitoring scaffolding to improve complex systems thinking with a participatory simulation

2 months 3 weeks ago
Abstract

Most of humanity’s important and difficult problems such as pandemics, environmental health, and social unrest require recognizing and understanding complex systems. Students often have difficulty understanding complex systems concepts and previous research indicates that scaffolded computer simulations may facilitate learning. Few studies, however, have investigated which types of scaffolding can help students understand complex systems concepts with simulations. This study compares ontological and self-monitoring scaffolds with an agent-based participatory simulation on mainly undergraduate students’ (N = 96) understanding of complex systems. Data sources included pretest and posttest assessments of complex systems concepts. Results revealed that students in the ontological condition significantly improved from pretest to posttest on their agent actions and processes-based causality understanding, while apparently decreasing their understanding in action effects. In addition, students in the ontological condition improved more from pre- to post-test than students in the self-monitoring condition in their understanding of order. This study highlights how scaffolded, agent-based participatory simulations can help students learn complex systems concepts and that ontological scaffolding may help students understand decentralized and emergent order within complex systems.

Augmenting the effect of virtual labs with "teacher demonstration" and "student critique" instructional designs to scaffold the development of scientific literacy

2 months 3 weeks ago
Abstract

Virtual labs provide space for students to iteratively test, observe, and revise their understanding so as to improve their scientific literacy. However, one of the challenges that students face is that they need to think and act like scientists so as to be sensitively alert to methodological flaws and various sources of error. This study thus compared the effect of two instructional approaches using a virtual lab to enhance students’ scientific literacy. Before students were given the opportunity to conduct science inquiries with the virtual lab, they were required to critique problematic inquiry cases (the critique group) or watch teachers’ demonstrations (the teacher demonstration group) before taking part in the inquiry. By analyzing data from 50 middle school students, this study found that the effect of applying virtual labs can be augmented by an instructional design that engages students in critiquing experiments prior to their inquiry with the virtual lab. This study also found a limitation of the use of virtual labs in helping students transfer what they have learned from the teacher’s demonstration to new inquiry contexts. A close relation among scientific literacy post-test scores, critiquing performance, and inquiry performance in the inquiry activity was detected, suggesting that student critiquing prior to inquiry is in alignment with the goal of developing students’ inquiry skills and scientific literacy with virtual labs.

Classifying Examples is More Effective for Learning Relational Categories Than Reading or Generating Examples

3 months ago
Abstract

Successful teaching requires that student teachers acquire a conceptual understanding of teaching practices. A promising way to promote such a conceptual understanding is to provide student teachers with examples. We conducted a 3 (between-subjects factor example format: reading, generation, classification) x 4 (within-subjects factor type of knowledge: facts, concepts, principles, procedures) experiment with N = 83 student teachers to examine how different formats of learning with examples influence the acquisition of relational categories in the context of lesson planning. Classifying provided examples was more effective for conceptual learning than reading provided examples or generating new examples. At the same time, reading provided examples or generating new examples made no difference in conceptual learning. However, generating new examples resulted in overly optimistic judgments of conceptual learning whereas reading provided examples or classifying provided examples led to rather accurate judgments of conceptual learning. Regardless of example format, more complex categories were more difficult to learn than less complex categories. The findings indicate that classifying provided examples is an effective form of conceptual learning. Generating examples, however, might be detrimental to learning in early phases of concept acquisition. In addition, learning with examples should be adapted to the complexity of the covered categories.

Refined use of the eye-mind hypothesis for scientific argumentation using multiple representations

3 months ago
Abstract

Our objective in this study was to investigate how the eye-movement behavior and concurrent verbal protocols of students with high-/low-prior-knowledge were reflected in the use of multiple representations for scientific argumentation. We also examined the degree of consistency between eye-fixation data and verbalization to ascertain how and when the eye-mind hypothesis (EMH) applies in this subdomain of scientific argumentation. Our results focused on fixation duration and recorded arguments from 96 college students. The high-prior-knowledge group did not present static patterns in the inspection of multiple representations, which indicates that they tended to select representations according to the contingent demands of the current task, indicating that for them, there was no “most appropriate representation”. The high-prior-knowledge group also submitted a greater number of representations and more frequently mentioned multiple representations in their verbal protocols. Finally, the students demonstrated notable discrepancies between eye-movement data and verbal protocols related to representations as well as inconsistencies with previous findings. Thus, the fact that the EMH does not always hold could perhaps be attributed to the scope of interpretation in argumentation tasks and the complexity of information related to some representations, both of which could hinder the instantaneous formation of a gist. Our findings may contribute to reducing the ambiguity and uncertainty involved in the analysis of eye-fixation data when multiple representations are employed for scientific argumentation.