Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Science Achievement of Elementary-School Students in the United States and Japan in TIMSS 2007: An Assessment of the Effects of Technology Engagement and Classroom Lesson Activities

Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Science Achievement of Elementary-School Students in the United States and Japan in TIMSS 2007: An Assessment of the Effects of Technology Engagement and Classroom Lesson Activities

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Several types of instructional design strategies and computer methods have been developed to improve student achievement in science fields. For instance, the design of interdisciplinary science programs provide students with opportunities to gain experience on multiple types of research strategies and problem-solving approaches used in different science fields (Kriegel, Koehne, Tinkle, Maynard, & Hill, 2011). Similarly, the use of research projects allows students to develop sells in searching the literature and using current laboratory instruments (Bardole & Weaver, 2010). Research findings indicated that eighth-grade students who participated in inquiry based learning showed higher levels of motivation for science learning (Tuan, Chin, Tsai, & Cheng, 2005); in this teaching method, students were allowed to explore multiple methods for separating a physical mixture. In addition, student motivation for learning science was increased when students were engaged in case examples that connected information to their career interests (Glynn, Taasoobshirazi, & Brickman, 2007). Finally, students who participated in cooperative learning for an anatomy course expressed positive attitudes about their learning experience (Vasan, DeFouw, & Compton, 2009). These results indicate that a number of instructional design strategies may be used successfully to improve student outcomes in science.

Research findings have also shown that computer engagement can be used to improve student outcomes in science. For example, the use of a collaborative computer experience for elementary-school science teaching resulted in improved academic achievement (So, Seah, & Toh-Heng, 2010). Recent findings also showed that use of a virtual learning environment for high school students in an earth science course produced significant learning gains and improved interactions between students (Birchfield & Megowan-Romanowicz, 2009). Similarly, it has been found that the use of virtual microscopes for a human anatomy laboratory course was positively associated with student attitudes about their ability to understand new information (Husmann, O'Loughlin, & Braun, 2009). Computer-based instruction was also used to teach elementary-school students about light reflection and diffusion and resulted in significantly higher test scores than students who received traditional instruction (Tekos & Solomonidou, 2009). Finally, the use of three-dimensional computer-based software for a human anatomy course was positively related to achievement outcomes (Hilbelink, 2009). These findings suggest that the use of computers in science instruction is related to student outcomes.

Findings from several international assessments have shown that students in Japan typically scored above international averages (Martin, Mullis, & Foy, 2008). Consequently, there is a great deal of interest in identifying instructional methods used for science teaching in Japan. Science is a critical component of the junior-high curriculum and extensive school hours are spent on science during the seventh and eighth grades (Trelfa, 1998). The science curriculum in Japan has a number of objectives, including providing instruction that allows students to conduct observations and experiments, develop an understanding of natural phenomena, and foster positive attitudes toward science (Senuma & Saruta, 2008). In addition, Japanese science teachers were found to emphasize activities that developed problem-solving skills and increased positive interests in science (Takemura & Shimizu, 1993). Findings from classroom observations of elementary-school science classes in Japan indicated that several activities were consistently used during the teaching process; during class periods, new science content material was connected to prior knowledge, investigations were conducted, data and information were organized into summary handouts, and students reflected on their experimental findings and examined their original hypotheses (Linn, Lewis, Tsuchida, & Songer, 2000). …

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