ERIC Number: EJ785031
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jul
Problem Solving in a Middle School Robotics Design Classroom
Norton, Stephen J.; McRobbie, Campbell J.; Ginns, Ian S.
Research in Science Education, v37 n3 p261-277 Jul 2007
Little research has been conducted on how students work when they are required to plan, build and evaluate artefacts in technology rich learning environments such as those supported by tools including flow charts, "Labview" programming and Lego construction. In this study, activity theory was used as an analytic tool to examine the social construction of meaning. There was a focus on the effect of teachers' goals and the rules they enacted upon student use of the flow chart planning tool, and the tools of the programming language "Labview" and Lego construction. It was found that the articulation of a teacher's goals via rules and divisions of labour helped to form distinct communities of learning and influenced the development of different problem solving strategies. The use of the planning tool flow charting was associated with continuity of approach, integration of problem solutions including appreciation of the nexus between construction and programming, and greater educational transformation. Students who flow charted defined problems in a more holistic way and demonstrated more methodical, insightful and integrated approaches to their use of tools. The findings have implications for teaching in design dominated learning environments.
Descriptors: Programming Languages, Flow Charts, Problem Solving, Programming, Teaching Methods, Robotics, Science Instruction, Cooperative Learning, Learning Processes, Learning Strategies, Secondary School Science, Middle School Students
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools
Authoring Institution: N/A