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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department of Biology Education - Prof. Dr. Franz X. Bogner

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Gerstner, S: Eine empirische Studie zum Einsatz von schülerzentrierten Unterrichtsmethoden im Natur- und Technik-Unterricht zum Thema „Wasser – Grundlage des Lebens“, (2009)
The topic “water” is an essential part in the Bavarian science curriculum of grade 5. Under the paragraph “natural scientific working” an application of student-centred teaching styles like learning at work stations and concept mapping is considered. This is specifically included in this present study, by empirically testing the influence of two instructional methods which base itself on cognition and motivation. In the first part of the study, learning at work stations was tested against a teacher-centred instruction. Both instructional types dealt with the very same topics; the only difference was that students who participated in learning at work stations did experiments on their own whereas students of the teacher-centred approach only watched their teacher while performing those experiments. Both groups took part in a following concept mapping phase for consolidating their newly acquired knowledge immediately after the “hands-on” and the teacher-centred instruction. The influence of both instruction methods was tested regarding students` short-term and long-term learning success and their motivation. Results show that students from both teaching styles showed a similar long-term learning success. Although concept mapping was implemented the first time in all of the classes it showed already a positive influence on students’ short-term learning success compared to a control group without consolidation phase. Interest, perceived choice and competence were recorded very high but did not differ between the two instructional styles. The second part of this study dealt with the quality of concept maps. It could be shown that students participating in the teacher-centred instruction produced concept map of higher complexity than students of the “hands-on” approach. Furthermore, gender effects were detected. Girls produced more complex maps than their male classmates. The interaction of the both variables “gender” and “number of sub-nets per concept map” showed a significant effect on long-term learning success. Part III of the present study gave important insight into students’ perception of boredom during regular natural science classes. Therefore, a battery developed by Lohrmann (2008) was used which was implemented the first time in natural science classes in this study measuring students’ boredom in different modes of instruction. A cluster-analysis of the boredom questionnaire revealed four student types classified by their perception of boredom. On the one hand, there are “optimal” and “moderate” challenged students, but on the other hand it also characterised students as “reluctant” and “bored”. Students’ interest in an altered teaching style (learning at work stations) was especially high among those who were already satisfied with regular science instruction. The present study provides new evidence for the effectiveness of student-centred teaching styles in natural science education. It could be shown, that the tested student-oriented instructional methods can be implemented in education without any complications and long introduction phases and show a positive effect on both short- and long-term learning success even the first time they were applied. These results should help to encourage teachers to make use of new, student-centred methods in their teaching.
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