Using an interactive simulation to enhance procedural skills in grade 5
Constantinou, Constantinos P.
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The discrepancy between what we teach and what scientists and citizens need is greater than most instructors realise. Science for citizenship and science in the technical workplace, both involve greater emphasis on procedural understanding than on understanding of concepts. In this paper, we explore the possibility of guiding upper elementary school students to develop procedural skills in close connection with conceptual understanding through a structured intervention on designing experiments. After implementation, the learning outcomes were assessed and further developed using an interactive database program developed by the University of Durham. The paper presents the design of our intervention, the structure of the software application and the learning outcomes. We also present conceptual and reasoning difficulties encountered by students in their effort to construct a coherent and consistent strategy for designing valid experiments. Finally, we discuss implications of our findings for the design and development of science curriculum for the elementary grades.