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ERIC Number: EJ1109827
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Sep
Pages: 23
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0022-4308
What Students Learn from Hands-On Activities
Schwichow, Martin; Zimmerman, Corinne; Croker, Steve; Härtig, Hendrik
Journal of Research in Science Teaching, v53 n7 p980-1002 Sep 2016
The ability to design and interpret controlled experiments is an important scientific process skill and a common objective of science standards. Numerous intervention studies have investigated how the control-of-variables-strategy (CVS) can be introduced to students. However, a meta-analysis of 72 intervention studies found that the opportunity to train CVS skills with hands-on tasks (g = 0.59) did not lead to better acquisition of CVS relative to interventions without a hands-on component (g = 0.74). We conducted an intervention study in which we investigated the differential effects of hands-on and paper-and-pencil training tasks on 161 eighth-grade students' achievement. CVS was demonstrated to all students before they were grouped into a hands-on or a paper-and-pencil training condition. In both training conditions, students designed and interpreted experiments about which variables influence the force of electromagnets. Students in the hands-on group interacted with physical equipment while students in the paper-and-pencil group planned experiments using sketches and interpreted the outcome of experiments presented in photographs. We found no general advantage or disadvantage of hands-on tasks, as both groups did equally well on CVS and content knowledge tests. However, hands-on students outperformed paper-and-pencil students on a hands-on test identical to the training tasks, whereas the paper-and-pencil students outperformed hands-on students on a science fair poster evaluation task similar to the paper-and-pencil training. In summary, students learned task-specific procedural knowledge, but they did not acquire a deeper conceptual understanding of CVS or the content domain as a function of type of training. Implications for instruction and assessment are discussed.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Information Analyses
Education Level: Grade 8; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; Elementary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A