Children taught how to think and act like scientists are more likely to develop a clearer understanding of the subject, a British study has shown.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham say the study found school children who took the initiative in investigating science topics of interest to them gained an understanding of good scientific practice, a university release reported Wednesday.
The three-year project involved students ages 11 to 14 using a computer program called nQuire, available as a free download for teachers and schools.
The software is a high-tech twist on the traditional lesson plan and guides the students through choosing and planning scientific experiments, collecting and analyzing data and discussing the results.
The nQuire toolkit allowed the children to become science investigators,” initiating an inquiry in the classroom then collecting data in the playground, at a local nature reserve, or even at home, then sharing and analyzing their findings back in class, researchers said.
“The results from the trials we conducted showed a positive effect on learning outcomes, a maintained enjoyment of science lessons and a small but genuine improvement in pupils’ understanding of the scientific process,” project leader Mike Sharples at Nottingham said.
“Science can be a hard sell in terms of persuading young people to consider it as an option for further education or as a career, particularly those from socially-disadvantaged backgrounds,” he said.
“Our results show that the personal inquiry learning process can take pupils in the right direction.”
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