The differential effects upon the learning of the natural sciences by fifth graders of two modes of teaching over television and in the classroom
Decker, Martin George
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THE PROBLEM: When two modes of teaching of the natural sciences (problem-solving and information-giving) are used both on television and in the classroom, will there be differences in the amount and quality of learning? POPULATION: 36 fifth grade classrooms, randomly selected from cities and towns within 50 miles of the city of Boston, Massachusetts. PROCEDURE: 36 teachers took part in the study. 12 of these were trained in the use of problem-solving methods with the teaching of natural science; 12 were trained in the use of information-giving methods with the teaching of science; and 12 were given no specific training and functioned as a control group. Two television series containing 20 one-half hour programs on the natural sciences were televised by WGBH-TV, Educational Television in Boston, Massachusetts. Ten programs were identical for both series. The other ten programs covered the same content areas, but were different in organizational make-up. Ten series "R" programs stressed the giving of information, ready-made concepts, and generalizations. Ten series "E" programs stressed the postulation o.f problems, time lapses for student response and posing of solutions. Classroom teachers in the two experimental classroom groups were provided with manuals correlated with the two experimental television series of ten programs. Although basic concepts to be covered were identical, one manual stressed the learning of information, the other the solution of problems. Four tests were administered during the experiment: The Otis Self Administering Intelligence Test (Beta Form) to establish distribution of intelligence; a Science Information Test to evaluate the learning of facts; a Science Concept Test to evaluate ability to solve problems; and a Science Reasoning Test to assess ability to reason logically. All tests were administered prior to the initiation of the television series in October 1961. All except the Otis were administered again immediately at the conclusion of the television series in April 1962. The Minnesota Teacher Attitude Inventory was administered in October 1961 to participating teachers as an aid in validation of teacher selection. The experimental design consisted of three groups of 6 classes viewing each television series, and two groups of 6 classes experiencing each of three classroom treatments. RESULTS: There were no statistically significant differences by either television treatment or classroom treatment. There were, however, differences in measured IQ between boys in different groups. Reliabilities of the tests used ranged between .85 and .92. Two significant results should be mentioned: 1) Note-taking in class, although not initially considered as a variable was a significant factor in experimental outcome; and 2) the basic assumptions for the use of difference scores as raw data for analysis of variance proved untenable with data collected for the study and corrections in difference scores for both ceiling and floor effects needed to be made. These corrections of gain scores changed some previously significant results to non-significant results. Approximately 75 per cent of the predictions of the direction of difference of group means by hypothesis were accurate. CONCLUSIONS: In an experiment of this sort, many variables which prejudice outcomes are not fUlly understood. Difference scores as raw data for statistical analyses are subject to distortion. It would seem that inductive problem-solving, is at the least, as effective as information-giving in the learning of natural science by fifth graders.
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