The Effects of Instructional and Computer Activities on Interest in Science Learning for Students in the United States and Korea: Results from the TIMSS 2003 Assessment

By House, J. Daniel | International Journal of Instructional Media, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

The Effects of Instructional and Computer Activities on Interest in Science Learning for Students in the United States and Korea: Results from the TIMSS 2003 Assessment


House, J. Daniel, International Journal of Instructional Media


An important application of instructional design strategies is the development of effective learning materials and activities for fostering student achievement in science and an interest in continued participation in science. For instance, computer applications have been designed for elementary and high school science instruction. Recent research findings indicate that the use of multimedia methods resulted in greater levels of independent learning and higher achievement outcomes (Eskicioglu & Kopec, 2003). Similarly, the use of computers as part of a constructivist science classroom was significantly associated with higher levels of learning in high school physics (Huffman, Goldberg, & Michlin, 2003). Recent results also indicate that the use of computer-based instruction for science concepts was particularly effective for younger students (fifth-graders) and resulted in their understanding of dynamic science systems (Klopfer, Yoon, & Um, 2005). The use of computers also resulted in several other student outcomes, such as organizational ability, active participation, and responsibility for their own learning (McGrath, et al., 1997). Other instructional strategies, such as active learning approaches and cooperative learning activities, have also been successfully applied to science education. For example, the use of active learning strategies in biology instruction resulted in greater conceptual understanding and increased motivation for learning than traditional science classrooms (Udovic, et al., 2002). Other programs have been designed to provide elementary school and high school students with laboratory experiences and integrated technology in order to foster interest in careers in science and medicine (DeRosa & Phillips, 1999; Doyle, 1999; Palacio-Cayetano, Kanowith-Klein, & Stevens, 1999). Finally, active learning strategies have been shown to be effective for improving student performance in a high school genetics course (Johnson & Stewart, 2002) and more positive beliefs about science for middle school students (Gibson & Chase, 2002). Consequently, research findings indicate that several instructional strategies have been developed to improve student outcomes in science.

Several studies have examined data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessments in order to identify factors associated with student achievement in science and student motivation for learning science. With respect to students' science achievement, several instructional practices and self-belief variables have been found to be significantly associated with achievement test scores. For instance, results from the TIMSS 1995 assessment indicated that active learning strategies (students used things from everyday life when solving science problems and did experiments or practical investigations during class) were positively associated with science achievement for adolescent students in Japan (House, 2002a). Similarly, recent results suggest that specific teaching behaviors (teachers asked students what they knew related to new science topics and showed students how to do science problems) were significantly related to achievement test scores for students in Chinese Taipei (House, 2005). Further, specific beliefs about science (students enjoyed learning science and believed that science is important to everyone's life) were positively related to the science achievement of adolescent students in Hong Kong (House, 2003b). Considering students' interest in learning science, several instructional strategies appear to be related to motivation. An analysis of eighth-grade students from Cyprus as part of the TIMSS 1995 assessment suggested that teaching practices exerted a significant influence on attitudes toward science (Papanastasiou, 2002). In addition, it was noted that the most significant effect on attitudes toward science for students in Korea was teaching behaviors (Papanastasiou & Papanastasiou, 2004). …

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