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Sixth Graders Investigate Models and Designs through Teacher-Directed and Student-Centered Inquiry Lessons: Effects on Performance and Attitudes
Journal of STEM Arts, Crafts, and Constructions
  • Benjamin D. Olsen, Cedar Falls Community School District
  • Audrey C. Rule, University of Northern Iowa
Abstract
Science inquiry has been found to be effective with students from diverse backgrounds and varied academic abilities. This study compared student learning, enjoyment, motivation, perceived understanding, and creativity during a science unit on Models and Designs for 38 sixth grade students (20 male, 18 female; 1 Black, 1 Hispanic and 36 White). The unit began with a very teacher-centered approach, then became increasingly student-centered, employing more inquiry with each lesson set to determine the effects of student-centered instruction on performance and attitudes. Pretest-posttest data with specific questions tied to each lesson set were collected, as well as repeated measures attitude surveys administered at the conclusion of each of the six sets of lessons. The surveys included ratings of lesson enjoyment, student motivation, perceived understanding, creativity designed into the lesson, and perceived self-creativity on a scale of one to ten, along with open ended responses of reasons for the ratings. Results indicate a trend of improving knowledge retention as student-centeredness and inquiry increased until the last lesson set, which a few students found too challenging. Additionally, reported levels of enjoyment, motivation, and creativity increased as the instructional approaches became more student-centered until the challenge became too great for some students, causing a small dip in the upward trend. Greater experience with science inquiry may assist students in extending their confidence, inquiry leadership, and achievement.
Citation Information

Olsen, B. D., & Rule, A. C. (2017). Sixth graders investigate models and designs through teacher-directed and students-centered inquiry lessons: Effects on performance and attitudes. Journal of STEM Arts, Crafts, and Constructions, 2(1), 95-114.