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Inquiry-based learning in science and technology among year 4 primary school pupils: substances as a learning topic

Ana Janjac (2017) Inquiry-based learning in science and technology among year 4 primary school pupils: substances as a learning topic. MSc thesis.

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    From a young age, we explore substances which are everywhere around us. However, we know some better than others. The development of science has led us to new substances, with which students do not have many experience, for example, hydrogels and non-Newtonian fluids. Properties of substances appear as a subject matter already in the first third of the nine-year elementary school. Students learn about buoyancy, hardness, states of matter, and influences on the changes of the properties of substances. Simultaneously, with the substances’ properties they also get to know various matter, such as wood, plastic, plasticine, metal, etc. In the fourth grade, they discuss other properties of substances: porousness, plasticity, compressibility, and fissility. Density is discussed as a property of substances already in the fourth grade, but students get to know it more in detail in class five. Research shows that the students’ achievements in science are much better when students come to new conclusions on their own through research. Learning through research is an educational strategy that enables experiential learning. Students are in direct contact with various substances, they think while working, and they connect knowledge from different fields. With this dissertation, we wanted to find out, how experiential learning affects the improvement of abilities to plan experiments, how much students learn about the properties of substances, and how their situational interest for learning about the properties of substances changes with experiential learning. We carried out a quality research, which lasted seven lessons. Twelve students of the fourth grade of the chosen elementary school were included in the research. During the lessons, students got to know the properties of substances through experiential learning. They came into contact with substances that they know better (plasticine, glass, wood, and plastic) and also with substances that they know less, like hydrogen and non-Newtonian liquids. The information was gathered with worksheets for the planning of the experiments, with tests, with a questionnaire about the situational interest in science, and with a questionnaire about the evaluation of learning through research. The results of the research show that the students’ ability to plan the experiments improved. The students acquired new knowledge about the properties of substances and about the hydrogels as well as the non-Newtonian liquids — oobleks. The mentioned substances influenced the increase of the situational interest for the class. The students were pleased with the performed experiential learning and they wanted even more of such lessons in science. The results of the research show the limitations of the research and the guidelines for future work. The students of the fourth class of the chosen elementary school progressed from planning the experiments to experiments connected with density, which is the topic in the fifth class. The students were not interested in writing the test, so it is valid to think about a structured interview as an instrument for gathering data. The results cannot be generalized because the research was carried out on a small sample (twelve students). It would also make sense to use learning with research in other topics in science and craft.

    Item Type: Thesis (MSc thesis)
    Keywords: natural science and technology, inquiry-based learning, properties of substances, hydrogels, non-newtonian liquids
    Number of Pages: 117
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    doc. dr. Jerneja PavlinMentor
    Link to COBISS: http://www.cobiss.si/scripts/cobiss?command=search&base=50126&select=(ID=11636297)
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 4553
    Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2017 14:26
    Last Modified: 13 Jul 2017 14:26
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/4553

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