This week I was looking at effective pedagogy again with an emphasis on psychology. When looking for articles, I began to realize that a lot of what I have already researched with activity theory and belief competency is already a form of psychology and the articles I was finding were pretty similar. The one I landed on is about how topic, context, and manner of interaction affect children’s motivation towardxs science. I think this is particularly fitting for this week since I just talked to the elementary schools I will be partnering with and now need to come up with the best ways to pitch this afterschool program to 4th and 5th grade girls.
This research study was a survey that 250 fifth and sixth grade students took in order to find what their biggest motivators within science were. The researchers used wording in their survey that assumes that these children were not yet familiar with the different topics of science and what they actually mean due to the quick pace of teaching that covers such a wide variety of topics within elementary school. For biology they asked about things like if they like learning about plants or animals and for physics they asked about if they like robots or other forms of technology. They also asked students about the context in which they like to do science in terms of formal vs informal. They asked about doing science in the classroom vs at home. In addition, they looked at the manner of interaction, which is whether or not they interacted in a more hands-on way or learned from worksheets or a lecture.
The researcher’s found that of these three factors, children showed the greatest preference for one thing over the other in different science topics. Biological and physical science were the most popular, and often children either liked one topic or the other. This is important to know because children oftentimes do not yet categorize science into many different topics and rather see science as one big thing, so if they know what topic within science they like, they may be able to identify better within science and explore that topic further. The children surprisingly showed a slight preference for formal experience with science over informal. The researchers believe this may be due to lack of experience with science education, but this also is important to note because it emphasizes the fact that simply having informal science with hands-on experience is not enough. Facilitators must have a structured way of running informal science experiences so that kids can get something out of them. Kids also didn’t show a strong preference for hands-on vs not hands-on.
This paper is important because it shows that kids have mindsets around science that are not the same as the mindset that we have. They do not yet fully understand the breadth and organization of science. Since interest in different topics is the most important motivator for children, I think it will be important to emphasize these topics in my club and also talk about them when I am visiting classes to try to get girls involved.
Children’s Motivation Toward Science Across Contexts, Manner of Interaction, and Topic—BATHGATE – 2014—Science Education—Wiley Online Library. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.proxy048.nclive.org/doi/full/10.1002/sce.21095