June 7, 2012
While some students are eager to grab test tubes and don safety goggles, others groan at the mere mention of science class. A recent study conducted in New York public schools suggests that their reaction may have less to do with their ability to learn and apply science concepts and more to do with how their teachers teach science. EDC Senior Research Associate Lauren Goldenberg has authored an article based on the study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation.
Q: What do students really want in science class?
Goldenberg: Students are most engaged when the teacher facilitates hands-on activities, group work, and discussions. They value meaningful, authentic activities and active learning. They want to work with each other and hear stories that illustrate science in their lives. As one student said, “The teacher is not telling or showing you. You get to experience it for yourself.”
Q: Why do some students dislike science?
Goldenberg: The things that really engage students are what engage us all. It’s not being talked at. It’s having a conversation and being invited in with open-ended questions. Learning science is a process of inquiry. There’s not always one right answer or one right way of doing things. That’s not always taught in schools.
Q: How important is technology in engaging science students?
Goldenberg: Students are motivated by using technology-based games and scientific tools. The key is that these tools are used in meaningful and authentic ways to foster learning. What students want closely resembles research on best practice in science classrooms—with or without technology.