Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Enhancing Eight Grade Students' Scientific Conceptual Change and Scientific Reasoning through a Web-Based Learning Program

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Enhancing Eight Grade Students' Scientific Conceptual Change and Scientific Reasoning through a Web-Based Learning Program

Article excerpt

Introduction

The unique characteristics of the World Wide Web have led educational researchers and practitioners around the world to regard it as a potential tool for improving teaching and learning. All learning activities, except providing an authentic wet lab experience, seem possible on the Web. Accessing the internet and incorporating the World Wide Web into teaching activities are considered to be fundamental skills for science teachers in the twenty-first century (Didion, 1997).

Tuvi & Nachmias (2001), using taxonomy modified from that of Mioduser, Nachmias, Lahav, & Oren (2000), reviewed 93 Web sites that focused on introducing atomic structures. They found the following similarities: text was clearly the major means to present information; automatic/human and technical/content-based help were present in less than 18%; less than 6% had interactive images, animation or sound; none of those Web sites were inquiry-based; and memorizing was the main cognitive process.

This study clearly indicated that science teaching and learning theories are absent in most of the science Web-based learning programs, that pedagogical considerations are not sufficiently considered in the design of the Web-based learning program, and that the capability of the Web and multimedia is not fully used to enhance students' science learning. Therefore, this study integrates both Dual Situated Learning Model (DSLM) and scientific reasoning theories to develop a Scientific Concept Construction and Reconstruction (SCCR) digital learning course to facilitate students' science learning.

More importantly, there is still disagreement about whether Web-based learning or traditional teaching are more effective on students' achievement and attitude. Many studies suggest no difference in test scores following Web-based and traditional courses. Although students gain more confidence with computer use in a Web-based course (Leasure, Davis, & Thievon, 2000), other studies find that students enrolled in a Web-based course perform worse in a final exam than students educated by conventional instruction (Wang & Newlin, 2000). However, others indicate an apparent increase in satisfaction on Web-based courses (Katz & Yablon, 2002). Therefore, one of the purposes of this study is to determine whether students receiving the SCCR Web-based course perform better than the conventional group in their atomic achievement scores. From the point of view of science educators, we claim that it is very difficult to bring about conceptual change and scientific reasoning unless the instructional design is based on well-developed conceptual change theories and models. Thus, this study attempts to explore whether students who received SCCR Web-based instruction would outperform a conventionally educated group of students in their conceptual change and scientific reasoning.

Lawson & Weser (1990) did a study to measure pre- to post-instruction change among college students. They found that less skilled reasoners were initially more likely to hold a variety of nonscientific beliefs about life and were less likely to change some, though not all, of those beliefs. However, there is still a lack of study for specific well-designed instruction, including Web-based learning, comparing the performance of students with high and low levels of scientific reasoning in the area of concept construction and conceptual change. Therefore, this study intends to explore whether students with higher levels of scientific reasoning would be more likely to change their alternative conceptions than students with lower levels of scientific reasoning.

Conceptual Change Model: Dual Situated Learning Model (DSLM)

Conceptual change has been a major research area of science education over the past two decades (Duit & Treagust, 2003). Research on conceptual change is spurred by the great volume of findings from studies over the past thirty years on students' alternative conceptions or pre-instructional conceptions about scientific concepts. …

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