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Title:Mediating science learning: Promoting the acquisition and transfer of biological concepts
Author(s):Ross, Linda
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Anderson, Thomas H.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Educational Psychology
Education, Reading
Education, Sciences
Abstract:The goal of this study was to design a lesson that would facilitate the transfer of biological concepts to novel situations. The lesson was tested for its effectiveness in teaching scientific facts, promoting transfer, and facilitating independent problem-solving. A review of the literature showed that successful transfer requires cognitive flexibility and access to the knowledge base in order to solve novel problems. Two learning theories, the information processing model and the social-constructivist theory, provided the theoretical basis for the study. A model based on these two theories was developed to guide the construction of the intervention and the instruments to measure the transfer. This model takes into account the function of the knowledge base in emerging expertise (i.e., the cognitive structures underlying efficient transfer), and the social nature of learning. The social aspect of learning was addressed through mediation built into text that was designed to enhance the knowledge base.
There were three treatment groups in the study, two experimental groups and a control group. The experimental groups received one of the two lessons designed for the study: (a) an application lesson that used a question and answer format as mediation, and (b) an example lesson that used examples to illustrate the material. These two groups were then compared with a third group that read material in a commercial textbook. The effectiveness of the lessons was examined for facilitating transfer that was independent of ability in the following ways: (a) transfer across a lateral gradient; (b) independent problem solving; and (c) internalization of the material. Two types of measurement instruments were designed for the study: (a) multiple choice tests, and (b) dynamic assessment activities. Multiple choice items were used to measure propositional knowledge within the knowledge base, and dynamic assessment was used to measure transfer.
Students in grades 11 and 12, attending a highly selective school with an emphasis on academic achievement, were selected for this study. These students were selected for three reasons: (a) to control for ability underlying the facility to perform transfer; (b) to control for socioeconomic background and academic motivation; and (c) pilot studies with ninth, eleventh, and twelfth grade and college students indicated that the experimental materials would be most effective with students at these grade levels.
Three principal conclusions can be drawn from the findings of this study. First, mediation can be built into text. Second, mediation stimulates inner speech and compensates for ability in transfer performance. Third, transfer activities measure different processes than do instruments used to measure propositional knowledge.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Ross, Linda
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9210969
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9210969

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