The Impact of Pedagogical Practice On Student Interest In Elementary Science Classrooms

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Groen, Jovan F.
Science Education , Interest , Elementary Science , Attitudes toward science , Situational Interest
Using a mixed-method design, the purpose of this research was to understand interest in the elementary science classroom as affected by different teaching methods. Of particular concern was the state of interest in junior level (Grades 4-6) science classrooms. Research conducted on science interest and attitudes toward science has identified significant declines in student interest and engagement across grade levels. To remedy these concerns, it has become imperative that researchers and science educators gain a greater understanding of the growing literature in the field of interest and how this research might improve student engagement, especially at the elementary level. Questionnaires were administered to 178 students from Grades 4-6 measuring their individual interest in science, the frequency at which they were exposed to different teaching methods in science, and the level of interest they held for each instructional approach in science class. In addition, student interviews were conducted with six students from both genders representing each grade to better understand what makes for interesting and effective teaching of science in the eyes of the students. The quantitative and qualitative components yielded largely similar findings. Results indicated that passive learning tasks, such as written work and note taking, became less popular as grade level increased, that female students maintained a greater interest in passive learning tasks than males, and that passive learning tasks had the greatest impact on predicting student interest in science. Furthermore, students reported that they were best engaged by instructional strategies that were characterized by experimentation, cooperation, relevance, and novelty. These results were used to shed light on previous research in the field, and to suggest directions for future research and practice.
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