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Leren experimenteren op de basisschool: instrueren versus structureren

Egberink, A.G.G.J. (2012) Leren experimenteren op de basisschool: instrueren versus structureren.

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Abstract:Children in primary education start conducting simple experiments at an early age. A recommended strategy for performing experiments is the control-of-variables strategy (CVS): children only manipulate the variable of interest while holding all other variables constant. Many studies have examined how use of CVS can be promoted. Giving direct instruction before the children’s inquiry can be effective: children who received this instruction understood the CVS better and designed more systematic experiments than children from the control group (Chen & Klahr, 1999; Klahr & Nigam, 2004). An alternative, successful approach is to segment the inquiry task in manageable subtasks. Children who investigate variables one by one experiment more systematically and draw more valid conclusions than children who investigate all variables simultaneously (Kuhn & Dean, 2005; Lazonder & Kamp, in press). These two approaches have not yet been compared and this observation was the reason for the present study. The research question was: ‘What is the relative effectiveness of direct instruction and task structuring for learning and using the CVS by primary school children?’ To answer this question, 67 pupils with a mean age of 11.43 worked with a computer simulation of a gong to investigate the influence of four variables on reverberation time. The children were assigned to three conditions: direct instruction, task structuring and control. The direct instruction condition and control condition received a single broad question that addressed the four variables simultaneously. The task structuring condition worked with four narrow questions, each containing one of the four variables. Children in the direct instruction condition, in addition, received a short explanation about the use of the CVS before the experiment. The results showed a significant difference between the three conditions in terms of systematic experimentation and the validity of conclusions. The task structuring condition showed the highest score on both measures. Children’s knowledge of the CVS increased from pretest to posttest, but gain scores were comparable across conditions. From these findings it was concluded that task structuring works best for children to experiment systematically. It will, however, not lead to a better understanding of the CVS. Further research has to be conducted to investigate whether a combination of direct instruction and task structuring would lead to a better understanding.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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