Instructional Activities and Interest in Science Learning for Adolescent Students in Japan and the United States: Findings from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)
House, J. Daniel, International Journal of Instructional Media
An important facet of effective instructional design is the consideration of the effects of learning activities on student motivation. For instance, student motivation has been included in a proposed cognitive model for instructional design (Tennyson, 1992) and its importance for effective instructional design has been emphasized (Main, 1993; Romiszowski, 1989). In order to improve the motivational quality of instructional materials, a motivational model of instructional design has been developed (Keller, 1983; Small, 1997). Further, that model has been tested in field settings (Visser & Keller, 1990) and has been expanded to provide a model of instructional design for application in higher education (Bohlin, Milheim, & Viechnicki, 1993-1994). A strategy has been proposed to incorporate motivational qualities into computer-based instruction (Relan, 1992); these strategies can help students to increase their achievement expectancies and self-efficacy beliefs. These motivational beliefs are significantly related to student achievement in science and mathematics. Students' achievement in first-year college mathematics was significantly correlated with their achievement expectancies (House, 1995). Similarly, achievement expectancies and academic self-concept were significant predictors of subsequent grade performance in college science courses (House, 1993, 1994). Consequently, it is important to examine the motivational qualities of instructional activities since student motivation is significantly related to achievement outcomes.
Several types of instructional programs and activities have been developed to foster student interest in science. Further, programs designed to improve students' knowledge and problem-solving skills may also result in improved confidence levels. For example, a software system designed to teach concepts of immunology to high school students appeared to result in improved student confidence in their ability to successfully solve multiple steps in a problem-based clinical case (Kanowith-Klein, Stave, Stevens, & Casillas, 2001). Several innovative instructional programs have been designed to provide opportunities for elementary and secondary school-aged students to learn science concepts and laboratory techniques. For instance, a program conducted by the University of California (San Francisco) provides sixth-grade students in San Francisco with instruction on topics related to health and biological sciences with the goal of enhancing student interest in science (Doyle, 1999). Similarly, a program coordinated by the University of California (Los Angeles) provides high school students in Los Angeles with integrated science learning and technology-based instructional experiences to facilitate a long-term goal of increased involvement in science careers (Palacio-Cayetano, Kanowith-Klein, & Stevens, 1999). Several investigations have demonstrated that providing students with culturally sensitive learning materials and activities can facilitate student interest in science (Bouillion & Gomez, 2001). Cajete (1988) has outlined several characteristics of the learning styles of American Indian students and has identified a number of culturally relevant instructional strategies that can be used to enhance American Indian students' motivation for science learning. Finally, results from an assessment of science enrichment programs for gifted high school students indicated that enrollment in two consecutive programs was particularly related to positive attitudes toward science (Stake & Mares, 2001).
The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) represents the largest and most comprehensive assessment of educational contexts and student achievement yet conducted (Martin, 1996). As part of the TIMSS assessment, a model was proposed to examine the unique effects of contextual factors on student achievement, such as classroom environment and instructional practices, family expectations and resources, and student self-beliefs (Schmidt & Cogan, 1996). …