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ERIC Number: EJ1116814
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Nov
Pages: 23
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0022-4308
Enhancing Student Explanations of Evolution: Comparing Elaborating and Competing Theory Prompts
Donnelly, Dermot F.; Namdar, Bahadir; Vitale, Jonathan M.; Lai, Kevin; Linn, Marcia C.
Journal of Research in Science Teaching, v53 n9 p1341-1363 Nov 2016
In this study, we explore how two different prompt types within an online computer-based inquiry learning environment enhance 392 7th grade students' explanations of evolution with three teachers. In the "elaborating" prompt condition, students are prompted to write explanations that support the accepted theory of evolution. In the "competing" prompt condition, students are prompted to write explanations that differentiate two views of evolution associated with Darwin and Lamarck. Data sources included a pretest and posttest, an embedded item, observations, logged teacher guidance, and teacher interviews. Findings show similar pretest to posttest gains in students' understanding of evolution for both conditions, but this pattern was not uniform across all three teachers. For one teacher, students who received competing theory prompts produced significantly higher gains than those who received elaborating theory prompts. A closer look at embedded student work reveals a higher degree of teacher participation (i.e., grading and guidance) than for the other teachers. Our findings illustrate how helping students distinguish between competing scientific claims can support learning in an inquiry unit, but may require a higher degree of teacher participation and reinforcement. We discuss the implications of these findings for enhancing students' scientific explanations.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 7; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; Elementary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: 1119670; 0822388; 0918743