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Towards Meaningful Learning through Inquiry

Author(s): Sivbritt Dumbrajs | Piritta Helin | Hanna Kärkkäinen | Tuula Keinonen

Journal: Eurasian Journal of Physics and Chemistry Education
ISSN 1306-3049

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 39;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Meaningful Learning | Deep Approach to Learning | Scientific Inquiry | Experimental Learning.

The purpose of this study is to develop and implement a study module including scientific inquiry basedexperiments in the context of the physical phenomenon of friction, and to assess the learning outcomes. The aimis to describe the levels of students’ understanding after instruction as well as to study where learning is situatedon the continuum between meaningful and rote learning. This study is a qualitative case study and theparticipants of the study are sixth graders from a countryside school. The students studied the issue of friction bydoing experiments in collaborative small-groups, following the principles of scientific inquiry. The data wascollected firstly, by asking the students prior to the teaching intervention to explain what happens in a picturewhich shows someone slipping, and secondly, by using an open-ended questionnaire after the teachingintervention. Before instruction, students only used their prior experiences and perceptions in their explanations,whereas after it they also utilized the scientific knowledge and concepts which they had learned during theintervention. After instruction, the students’ answers reflected deeper understanding of the phenomenon, and ofthe five types of learners found, one type reaches the level of meaningful learning. The finding of five types oflearners reflects the complexity of students’ understanding.

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