Middle school students' self-efficacy, attitudes, and achievement in a computer-enhanced problem-based learning environment.This study examined the effect of a computer-enhanced problem-based learning problem-based learning Medical education An instruction strategy in which groups of students are presented with clinical problems without prior study or lectures. See Cooperative learning. (PBL PBL Problem-Based Learning
PBL Phi Beta Lambda
PBL Performance Based Logistics
PBL Planetary Boundary Layer
PBL Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (Australia)
PBL Philippine Basketball League
PBL Peripheral Blood Leukocyte ) environment on middle school students' learning, investigating the relationship among students' self-efficacy self-efficacy (selfˈ-eˑ·fi·k , attitude toward science, and achievement. As Bandura ban`dur´a
n. 1. A traditional Ukrainian stringed musical instrument shaped like a lute, having many strings. defined it (1986), self-efficacy refers to the beliefs people have about whether or not they can successfully complete a task. From analyses of quantitative and qualitative data, findings indicated an increase in students' science achievement and self-efficacy for learning science after their engagement in a computer-enhanced PBL environment; however, no significant changes were seen in their attitude toward science. Students' attitude toward science and self-efficacy beliefs were positively related to each other. Self-efficacy was shown to be a statistically significant predictor of science achievement scores but attitude was not. In addition, when groups were formed based on a median split of attitude and self-efficacy scores, a significant interaction was found. Among students with low attitude, science achievement scores were significantly higher for the high self-efficacy than for the low self-efficacy group, while students in the high attitude group showed no difference in the achievement scores regardless of their self-efficacy grouping. Results suggested that students' self-efficacy towards science learning could be used to predict achievement.
How middle school students approach science is of interest for two reasons. Early experiences with science can be expected to have an effect on the likelihood that students would pursue science in later grades. It may also be easier to ameliorate a·mel·io·rate
tr. & intr.v. a·me·lio·rat·ed, a·me·lio·rat·ing, a·me·lio·rates
To make or become better; improve. See Synonyms at improve.
[Alteration of meliorate. students' attitudes toward science and their self-efficacy beliefs (i.e. students' beliefs about completing a task successfully) when they are still in the early stages of exposure to science. In this study, we examined changes in middle school students' achievement, self-efficacy, and attitude toward science as a result of their participation in a computer-enhanced problem-based learning environment. Problem-based learning (PBL) exemplifies student-centered learning where students take responsibility for their own learning processes and build knowledge through their learning experiences (Cobb & Bowles Bowles may refer to:
problem-solving skills → técnicas de resolución de problemas
problem-solving n → skills, to reflect on their own learning, and to develop a deep understanding of the content domain (Cognition cognition
Act or process of knowing. Cognition includes every mental process that may be described as an experience of knowing (including perceiving, recognizing, conceiving, and reasoning), as distinguished from an experience of feeling or of willing. and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1997). In this study, sixth-graders were engaged in a computer-enhanced PBL learning environment as part of their science curriculum. It was hypothesized that the students would exhibit a positive change in their science achievement, science self-efficacy beliefs, and attitude toward science after their participation in this environment. Literature on problem-based learning, self-efficacy, and attitude provided a basis for our investigation.
Problem-based learning (PBL) is a learning process in which students are presented with a problem and are asked to apply reasoning, questioning, researching, and critical thinking to find a solution to the problem. It emphasizes solving complex problems in resource-rich contexts and aims at developing higher-order thinking Higher-order thinking is a fundamental concept of Education reform based on Bloom's Taxonomy. Rather than simply teaching recall of facts, students will be taught reasoning and processes, and be better lifelong learners. skills (Savery Savery is a surname, and may refer to:
Reliance on one's own capabilities, judgment, or resources; independence.
self and independent. The essential characteristics of PBL include: (a) learning is student-centered; (b) authentic problems form the organizing focus for learning; (c) new information is acquired through self-directed self-di·rect·ed
Directed or guided by oneself, especially as an independent agent: the self-directed study of a language.
self learning; (d) learning occurs in small groups; and (e) teachers act as facilitators (Barrows, 1996).
Originally developed for medical education, its success in that setting has sparked the interest of educators in other fields. PBL has been shown to be more effective than traditional classroom instruction in providing opportunities for transferring knowledge and skills from the classroom to the workplace (Lunyk-Child, Crooks, Ellis ELLIS - EuLisp LInda System. An object-oriented Linda system written for EuLisp. "Using Object-Oriented Mechanisms to Describe Linda", P. Broadbery <firstname.lastname@example.org> et al, in Linda-Like Systems and Their Implementation, G. Wilson ed, U Edinburgh TR 91-13, 1991. , Ofosu, O'Mara, & Rideout, 2001; Stepien, Gallagher Gallagher may refer to: People
2. The obligations of a workman are to perform the work he has undertaken to do; to do it in proper time; to do it well to employ the things furnished him according to his contract. , 1993). It results in better long-term Long-term
Three or more years. In the context of accounting, more than 1 year.
1. Of or relating to a gain or loss in the value of a security that has been held over a specific length of time. Compare short-term. content retention than traditional instruction (Norman Norman, city (1990 pop. 80,071), seat of Cleveland co., central Okla.; inc. 1891. It is the center of a livestock region. Oil wells, food processing, and printing and publishing contribute to the economy, and there is diverse manufacturing (machinery, communication & Schmidt, 1992) and supports the development of problem-solving skills (Gallagher, Stepien, & Rosenthal Rosenthal is a name of German origin, meaning rose valley, and may refer to:
Most successful uses of PBL come from non-technology based settings involving college or gifted K-12 students. Educators interested in using PBL in their classrooms recognize the challenges of its implementation (Farnsworth Farns·worth , Philo Taylor 1906-1971.
American electrical engineer who as early as 1927 demonstrated a working television system. , 1994). Such challenges include ineffective ways to present the central problem through oral or written means, large investment in time and effort to develop PBL units, initial discomfort Discomfort may refer to pain, an unpleasant sensation, or to suffering, an unpleasant feeling or emotion. with the methodology from learners and instructors, and the need for new forms of assessment (Farnsworth, 1994; Hoffman & Richie Richie is a given name or surname, and may refer to: First name
A given name or nickname which may be short for Richard. Examples of this use include:
Coordinates: , Brown, & Cocking cock 1
a. An adult male chicken; a rooster.
b. An adult male of various other birds.
2. A weathervane shaped like a rooster; a weathercock.
3. A leader or chief. , 2000, p. 195). Interactive video, for example, has been used to present students with real-life real-life
Actually happening or having happened; not fictional: a documentary with footage of real-life police chases. problems that require students to understand and apply important concepts in mathematics (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1997). Interactive and media rich computer tools can assist learners to generate and test hypotheses and can engage students in activities that would be out of their reach otherwise. Computers can enhance PBL delivery and provide necessary scaffolding to learners (Hoffman & Richie, 1997). Such suggested benefits of a computer-enhanced PBL environment on students' learning, however, need to be verified ver·i·fy
tr.v. ver·i·fied, ver·i·fy·ing, ver·i·fies
1. To prove the truth of by presentation of evidence or testimony; substantiate.
2. with research evidence.
Self-Efficacy and Achievement
Self-efficacy refers to people's beliefs about their capabilities to perform a task successfully at designated levels (Bandura, 1986, 1997). It is a construct different from the colloquial col·lo·qui·al
1. Characteristic of or appropriate to the spoken language or to writing that seeks the effect of speech; informal.
2. Relating to conversation; conversational. term confidence because confidence is used to describe the strength of a belief but it does not specify the content of the belief, so that one can be quite confident in being unsuccessful (Bandura, 1986, 1997). Also, the term self-efficacy is to be differentiated from notions of ability or capacity. In Bandura's conception of self-efficacy, the idea is that learners develop a sense of, or a belief about, how well they are likely to perform in a task. This sense of how well they will perform is separate from, though clearly tied to, their actual ability (Lane & Lane, 2001), and has been shown to influence performance. Self-efficacy is concerned not with the skills one has but the judgments of what one can do with whatever skills one possesses. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Bandura (1986), "If self-efficacy is lacking, people tend to behave ineffectually in·ef·fec·tu·al
a. Insufficient to produce a desired effect: an ineffectual effort to block the legislation.
b. , even though they know what to do" (p.425).
Motivation is enhanced when students perceive they are making progress in learning or feel they are capable of handling the task. In turn, as students work on tasks and become more skillful skill·ful
1. Possessing or exercising skill; expert. See Synonyms at proficient.
2. Characterized by, exhibiting, or requiring skill. , they develop a sense of self-efficacy for performing well (Schunk SCHUNK Germany
Among basic conditions, Friedrich Schunk founded his "mechanical workshop" in a garage in Lauffen/Neckar, Germany in 1945. The production of brake drums and fly wheels for the NSU Prince 4 and precision parts for the Porsche 365 were his first larger orders. , 1991). It has been suggested that one's perceived self-efficacy has a powerful influence over one's choice of activity, the kind of effort one expends, and how much one is able to maintain that effort in the face of difficulty (Bandura, 1986, 1997; Schunk, 1995). Consequently, self-efficacy beliefs have been found to influence students' attitude, their engagement in an activity, and how strategic they may be when encountering a task (Pajares & Johnson, 1996; Pajares & Miller, 1994, 1995). Students' self-efficacy beliefs also seem to be significantly related to their academic performance (Lane & Lane, 2001).
Although research supports the positive relationship between self-efficacy beliefs and academic achievement, much of the evidence has been garnered in such areas as sports and traditional math classes. More research is needed in other areas because self-efficacy and its relationship to achievement may vary in different domains of learning. Bandura (1986) cautioned that because judgments of self-efficacy are domain specific, different ways of assessing learners' confidence at completing a given task successfully would be needed to correspond to the assessed performance. In a PBL environment, students not only have more autonomy over their learning, they also have more responsibility for their learning processes and outcomes, putting a heavier burden on students' motivation and capability to complete learning tasks. If students are not equipped with the ability to learn in a self-paced, self-directed environment, their motivation and achievement may suffer. Likewise, without the belief that they are capable at completing tasks successfully in the PBL environment, students may shy away from Verb 1. shy away from - avoid having to deal with some unpleasant task; "I shy away from this task"
avoid - stay clear from; keep away from; keep out of the way of someone or something; "Her former friends now avoid her" this activity, which may in turn hurt their attitude and performance in class. Because students' self-directed learning can be assisted by computer tools, it is possible that students may find support in a computer-enhanced PBL environment and gain self-efficacy when tackling the complex problems that are at the heart of a PBL lesson. This study was therefore intended to examine students' initial self-efficacy beliefs and how these beliefs changed as their experiences changed.
Attitude and Achievement
Students' attitude is another factor highly associated with success and motivation. Having high ability or skills does not guarantee that students will enjoy working at an activity or perform successfully on the task. Often students need to have an internal drive and a positive mindset mind·set or mind-set
1. A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations.
2. An inclination or a habit. about the learning task in order to sustain motivation. Attitudes and beliefs are regarded as precursors precursors, (prēkur´srz),
n.pl particles or compounds that precede something. of behaviors and behavioral behavioral
pertaining to behavior.
see psychomotor seizure. intentions. Students with positive attitudes are more likely to sustain their efforts and have the desire to be involved in the learning tasks.
Loyd and Gressard (1984) found that students' attitudes about computers were strongly related to their success in computer-related tasks. A study by Mattern and Schau (2002) showed that positive attitude toward science is related positively to achievement. Germann (1988) reported that attitudes toward science influence students' attainment, consistency, and quality of work. In reviewing the literature about attitudes toward science over the past 20 years, Osborne, Simon, and Collins (2003) noted that research has indicated a decline in attitudes toward science from age 11 onward on·ward
Moving or tending forward.
adv. also on·wards
In a direction or toward a position that is ahead in space or time; forward. and an apparent contradiction CONTRADICTION. The incompatibility, contrariety, and evident opposition of two ideas, which are the subject of one and the same proposition.
2. In general, when a party accused of a crime contradicts himself, it is presumed he does so because he is guilty for between students' attitudes toward science in general and their attitudes toward school science. Students consider science itself interesting and useful but regard science classes as boring (Ebenezer & Zoller, 1993). Teachers, curricula, and culture, among other factors, were cited as influence on students' attitudes (Osborne, et al., 2003). Thus, how science is taught in classrooms can affect learners' interest in science as a subject and a career.
Three research questions guided this study:
1. Do students' self-efficacy for learning science, attitude toward science, and science achievement change as a result of using a computer-enhanced PBL environment?
2. Is there a relationship between students' science self-efficacy beliefs and their attitude toward science after they engaged in a computer-enhanced PBL environment?
3. How do students' science self-efficacy beliefs and their attitude toward science relate to their science achievement after they engaged in a computer-enhanced PBL environment?
The participants were 549 sixth-graders from two middle schools in a mid-sized southwestern city. Sixth-grade students were selected because the PBL environment was designed for sixth-grade science. The study took place over a three-week time period in the second semester se·mes·ter
One of two divisions of 15 to 18 weeks each of an academic year.
[German, from Latin (cursus) s of the school year. The schools were from the same district and shared similar demographics The attributes of people in a particular geographic area. Used for marketing purposes, population, ethnic origins, religion, spoken language, income and age range are examples of demographic data. : 16% Hispanic Hispanic Multiculture A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race Social medicine Any of 17 major Latino subcultures, concentrated in California, Texas, Chicago, Miam, NY, and elsewhere , 6% African-American, 73% Caucasian Caucasian or Caucasoid: see race. , and 5% other ethnic backgrounds. Of the 549 students, 49.3% (n = 271) were female students. Approximately 75% of the students (n = 412) were in regular education classes, 15% of the students (n = 82) were in Talented and Gifted Talented and Gifted or Gifted and Talented may refer to:
a. A preliminary test administered to determine a student's baseline knowledge or preparedness for an educational experience or course of study.
b. A test taken for practice.
2. and posttest post·test
A test given after a lesson or a period of instruction to determine what the students have learned. design because all sixth-grade science classes from these two schools elected to use the computer-enhanced PBL program described below. Five teachers taught these science classes and indicated that the students had sufficient computer skills to use the program.
Treatment: A Computer-Enhanced PBL Environment
Alien Rescue, a CD-based hypermedia hypermedia: see hypertext.
The use of hyperlinks, regular text, graphics, audio and video to provide an interactive, multimedia presentation. All the various elements are linked, enabling the user to move from one to another. PBL environment, was used in this study. Alien Rescue was designed to engage sixth-grade students in a complex task that requires them to use problem-solving skills and acquire knowledge about both our solar system solar system, the sun and the surrounding planets, natural satellites, dwarf planets, asteroids, meteoroids, and comets that are bound by its gravity. The sun is by far the most massive part of the solar system, containing almost 99.9% of the system's total mass. and the tools and procedures scientists use to solve problems (Liu, Williams, & Pedersen, 2002). The program begins with a video presentation of a complex problem. A group of six species of aliens, different in their characteristics, have arrived in Earth's orbit escaping the explosion of their home planets. Students, acting as scientists, are asked to participate in this rescue operation, and their task is to help the aliens find new homes that can support their life forms by determining the most suitable relocation RELOCATION, Scotch law, contracts. To let again to renew a lease, is called a relocation.
2. When a tenant holds over after the expiration of his lease, with the consent of his landlord, this will amount to a relocation. site for each alien species.
To solve this problem, students must engage in a variety of problem-solving activities. They need to study the aliens' needs and research the planets in our solar system to find possible new homes. Students must also take part in planning and decision-making decision-making,
n the process of coming to a conclusion or making a judgment.
n a type of informal decision-making that combines clinical expertise, patient concerns, and evidence gathered from as they determine how to use the resources of the solar system effectively. The program was purposely pur·pose·ly
With specific purpose.
USAGE: See at purposeful.
Adv. 1. built to have more information available to students than needed in solving the problem so that students must actively sift through the vast information and decide what is relevant and important. Given the complex nature of the problem and the vast amount of information available, a set of computer tools is provided to scaffold scaffold
Temporary platform used to elevate and support workers and materials during work on a structure or machine. It consists of one or more wooden planks and is supported by either a timber or a tubular steel or aluminum frame; bamboo is used in parts of Asia. students' problem-solving process. For example, information about the characteristics of each alien species (what different species look like, where they live, the food they eat, etc.), the atmosphere and gravity on a planet, and past NASA missions This is a list of NASA missions, both manned and unmanned, since its establishment in 1958. Human spaceflight
NASA has successfully accomplished many human space missions. are provided through carefully constructed knowledge databases enhanced through graphics, animations, and 3-D videos. If students come across a scientific concept with which they are unfamiliar, they can look it up in the concept database that provides visually illustrated tutorials on various science topics. To assist students' cognitive processes Cognitive processes
Thought processes (i.e., reasoning, perception, judgment, memory).
Mentioned in: Psychosocial Disorders , an expert is available at four critical points via the video format to model expert thinking process in solving the central problem. The probe builder and launcher tools allow students to design probes with various scientific instruments and launch them. Students then study the data returned from the probes to see if a planet has the adequate conditions to be a home for a species. Such computer tools enable students to perform cognitive activities that would be out of their reach otherwise. More information about the program can be found on http://alienrescue.edb.utexas.edu/.
Students used Alien Rescue in their daily 45-minute science class for a total of 15 days. Because Alien Rescue was aligned with the national science standards on scientific investigation and problem solving problem solving
Process involved in finding a solution to a problem. Many animals routinely solve problems of locomotion, food finding, and shelter through trial and error. , the teachers used it in place of the regular teaching materials on the solar system unit. Students worked on computers in the computer lab. They were assigned as·sign
tr.v. as·signed, as·sign·ing, as·signs
1. To set apart for a particular purpose; designate: assigned a day for the inspection.
2. to groups of two or three by their teachers to solve the central problem collaboratively, but each student had his or her own computer.
This was the second year that four of the teachers had used Alien Rescue and the fourth year for one of the teachers. All five teachers participated in a training workshop before implementing Alien Rescue. During the workshop, the philosophy and attributes of student-centered learning environments were discussed in depth. In particular, the role of the teacher as a facilitator was highlighted. In their use of Alien Rescue, the teachers did not do any direct teaching. They did not tell students what to do specifically, and did not teach the science concepts needed to solve the central problem prior to or during the use of Alien Rescue. On the first day, students watched the video scenario in Alien Rescue, and then the teachers and the students held a discussion about the primary task the students faced. For the next 14 days, teachers allowed the students to decide what their learning tasks were for each day and how to approach solving the problem. Typically, each day began with a mini-discussion on what the students had accomplished in the previous day and teachers addressed questions that came up. Students' questions were often answered by more questions from the teachers or answered by other students. Then, the students went to their computer stations. Each group divided tasks among themselves and made their own decisions as to how to proceed. The teachers walked around the room answering students' questions, checking progress, and ensuring students were on task. Most days, the lesson ended with another short discussion on what the students had accomplished that day, any questions that surfaced, and what the goal should be for the next day. Sample lesson plans can be found at http://jabba.edb.utexas.edu/liu/aliendb/Lesson-Plan.htm. Because all the necessary tools for students to work on the problem were provided via computers in this PBL environment, it was possible for the teachers to spend most of the class time interacting with students individually. The teachers provided scaffolding to the students through daily questioning, answering, and discussion.
Data Sources and Analyses
To address the research questions, both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. Qualitative data were analyzed an·a·lyze
tr.v. an·a·lyzed, an·a·lyz·ing, an·a·lyz·es
1. To examine methodically by separating into parts and studying their interrelations.
2. Chemistry To make a chemical analysis of.
3. to substantiate To establish the existence or truth of a particular fact through the use of competent evidence; to verify.
For example, an Eyewitness might be called by a party to a lawsuit to substantiate that party's testimony. the findings from the quantitative data. These data sources are described below.
Science achievement test. Achievement was assessed by measuring students' understanding of the various scientific concepts introduced in Alien Rescue. A 25-item test (KR(20) = .73) was used, which reflected what the designers and subject matter experts consider as important for the students to acquire after using Alien Rescue. It addresses both factual knowledge (n=15) and application (n=10) questions, and was used in previous studies with similar samples (Liu, 2004, 2005; Liu, Bera, Corliss, Svinicki, & Beth, 2004). Examples of the questions are as follows:
Factual: Which of these worlds is a planet (not a moon)?
Application: You need to design a probe to go to Titan to find out if it has a magnetic field or earthquakes. Which of the following would you choose to include on your probe?
a. a battery and a solar panel
b. an infrared An invisible band of radiation at the lower end of the visible light spectrum. With wavelengths from 750 nm to 1 mm, infrared starts at the end of the microwave spectrum and ends at the beginning of visible light. camera and a magnetometer
c. a barometer and a seismograph
d. a magnetometer and a seismograph
Because no direct teaching was involved, a gain in the performance score would indicate that the student had acquired a good understanding of the scientific concepts needed for problem solving through his or her self-directed learning, classroom discussions, and/or peer interaction while using Alien Rescue.
Self-efficacy questionnaire. Students' self-efficacy beliefs were measured using eight items from the Motivated mo·ti·vate
tr.v. mo·ti·vat·ed, mo·ti·vat·ing, mo·ti·vates
To provide with an incentive; move to action; impel.
mo Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ MSLQ Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire
MSLQ Medical Science Liaison Quarterly ) (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, and McKeachie, 1993), which dealt specifically with students' self-efficacy for learning and performance. The reported Cronbach's alpha Cronbach's (alpha) has an important use as a measure of the reliability of a psychometric instrument. It was first named as alpha by Cronbach (1951), as he had intended to continue with further instruments. for the eight items was .93. Students rated themselves on a 5-point Likert scale Likert scale A subjective scoring system that allows a person being surveyed to quantify likes and preferences on a 5-point scale, with 1 being the least important, relevant, interesting, most ho-hum, or other, and 5 being most excellent, yeehah important, etc with 1 being "not at all true of me" and 5 being "very true of me." For each of the eight items, "science class" was used in place of "course" in the original statements. For example, "I am confident I can learn the basic concepts taught in this science class" was used in place of "I am confident I can learn the basic concepts taught in this course." In the post-survey, "science class" in each statement was defined as "science class using Alien Rescue." The alpha for the sample in this study was 0.93.
Attitude toward science questionnaire. Students' attitude toward science as a school subject was measured using the Attitude Toward Science in School Assessment (ATSSA ATSSA American Traffic Safety Service Association, Inc. ) (Germann, 1988). This instrument consists of 14 Likert scale items, with I being "strongly disagree" and 5 being "strongly agree." Sample statements include "Science is fun" and "During science classes, I usually am interested." According to Germann, the scale has been used with students from seventh to tenth grade Tenth grade is a year of education in many nations. United States
The tenth grade is the tenth school year after kindergarten and is called Grade 10 in some regions. Students are usually 15–16 years old. in science classes in four different studies, with a reported Cronbach's alpha of .95. The alpha for the sample in this study was 0.96. In the post-survey, "science" in each statement was defined as "science using Alien Rescue." For example, "Science is fun" became "Science with Alien Rescue was fun."
The same science achievement test, self-efficacy and attitude toward science questionnaires were given to the students both before and after their use of Alien Rescue to measure any changes. The pretests were given before the PBL experience and the posttests were given after the three weeks of PBL implementation. Since there were more than 15 days apart between the pretest and posttest, it was unlikely that the students would remember the content in the pretest. The teachers did not teach to the posttest (see "Treatment" section above).
An ANOVA anova
see analysis of variance.
ANOVA Analysis of variance, see there with repeated measures was run to see if there were changes in scores from pre to post in students' science achievement, self-efficacy for science, and attitude toward science (for research question 1). Correlation analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between students' self-efficacy and attitude toward science (for research question 2), and the relationship between science achievement scores, attitude toward science, and self-efficacy at the posttest (for research question 3). A multiple regression Multiple regression
The estimated relationship between a dependent variable and more than one explanatory variable. analysis was then used to determine whether students' self-efficacy beliefs and attitude toward science, as independent variables, would predict students' science achievement (for research question 3).
Open-ended questions A closed-ended question is a form of question, which normally can be answered with a simple "yes/no" dichotomous question, a specific simple piece of information, or a selection from multiple choices (multiple-choice question), if one excludes such non-answer responses as dodging a and interviews. After completing the Alien Rescue program, students were asked to respond to three written open-ended questions: "When working with Alien Rescue, do you feel that you can understand science better? Why or why not?" "Do you think that you like science more OR less after you used Alien Rescue? Give 3 reasons why," and "Do you feel more confident about learning science successfully after using Alien Rescue? Give 3 reasons why." Scheduled from the middle of the Alien Rescue unit on, individual and small group interviews were conducted with a selected group of 20 students who were identified by their teachers as either doing well or not well in their regular science class. Interview questions included, "Do you like working on science using Alien Rescue?" "What aspect of it did you like the most or least?" "In the Alien Rescue class, are you confident in finding the answers on your own since your teacher is not teaching you the information directly now?" and "What do you do when you can't find the answers?"
The responses to the open-ended questions and the transcribed interview data were coded and analyzed following the guidelines guidelines,
n.pl a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks. by Miles and Huberman (1994). Patterns from the data were extracted. The data were sorted into categories and subcategories according to their common themes and shared relationships. Three researchers independently coded one third of the data and then discussed the emerging themes until a consensus was reached on categories and subcategories.
Changes in Science Achievement, Self-Efficacy, and Attitude from Pre- to Post-Assessment
Results of the ANOVA with repeated measures indicated that there was a significant increase in science achievement from pretest to posttest: F (1, 463) = 1214.96, p < .001 (see Table 1). Students' self-efficacy scores had also increased significantly at the posttest: F (1, 463) = 12.61, p < .001, although scores were already above the mid-point of the scale at the pretest.
By contrast, a comparison of scores on the attitude toward science scale did not show a significant difference between pretest and posttest. It is important to note, however, that attitude scores were all above the mid-point of the scale (see Table 1).
Relationships Among Self-Efficacy, Attitude, and Science Achievement
Correlation analysis between attitude toward science and self-efficacy for science showed that the two factors were positively related: r = .60, p < .001. Another correlation analysis showed that attitude toward science and self-efficacy were positively related to the science achievement test: [r.sub.attitude] = .11, p < .05; [r.sub.self-efficacy] = .28, p < .001. Regression analysis In statistics, a mathematical method of modeling the relationships among three or more variables. It is used to predict the value of one variable given the values of the others. For example, a model might estimate sales based on age and gender. , examining whether students' self-efficacy beliefs and attitude toward science would predict students' post-science achievement scores, showed a significant [R.sup.2] of .08, F (2, 489) = 22.30, p < .001. Of the two predictors, self-efficacy was found to significantly predict science achievement ([beta] = .33, t (489) = 6.02, p < .001) while attitude was not (p = .19).
Further analyses were conducted to examine how students with different levels of self-efficacy and attitude performed. Students were divided into high and low self-efficacy groups and high and low attitude groups using the median split method. A two-way ANOVA was run with high and low self-efficacy, and high and low attitude as independent variables, and the science achievement posttest scores as the dependent variable. ANOVA results supported the findings from the regression analysis in that students with high self-efficacy scored higher on the post science achievement test (M = 74.96) than students with low self-efficacy (M = 69.81), F (1, 454) = 7.55, p < .01. There was no significant difference in the science achievement scores between high (M = 73.29) and low attitude groups (M = 71.48).
Although there was no interaction between the two independent variables of attitude and self-efficacy at the pretest, there was an interesting and statistically significant interaction effect between self-efficacy and attitude groups at the posttest, F (1, 454) = 8.94, p < .01 (see Table 2). At the pretest, the self-efficacy and the attitude variables indicated main effects such that the higher groups performed better than the lower groups. However, at the posttest, a large difference in science achievement scores was found for students in the low attitude group divided based on their self-efficacy levels: The high self-efficacy group scored significantly higher than the low self-efficacy group on their achievement scores. On the other hand, students in the high attitude group showed no difference in posttest science achievement scores regardless of their self-efficacy levels.
Changes in and Relationship Among Science Achievement, Self-Efficacy, and Attitude
Results on the science achievement test indicated that students gained significantly more science knowledge after engaging in learning with Alien Rescue. This finding supports previous research examining the effectiveness of this computer-enhanced PBL environment, which showed similar positive impact of the Alien Rescue program (Liu, 2004, 2005; Liu, Bera, Corliss, Svinicki, & Beth, 2004). The findings from this and previous research together suggest that a computer-enhanced PBL program such as Alien Rescue is promising in helping sixth-graders gain science knowledge. The indication that well-designed technology tools can assist learning is inline with research conducted on other technology-based interactive learning environments (Cognition & Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1997; Corderoy, Harper, & Hedberg, 2003; Lajoie, 1993).
Ideally, such positive effects should be verified with a control group. However, this research was conducted in classrooms where the use of Alien Rescue was an integral part of the curriculum. All participating teachers, who had used the program previously and were positive about the learning benefits of the PBL environment, felt strongly that all students should have access to the program at the same time. Consequently, having a control group was not feasible with these two schools. We did attempt to find an intact class of 57 gifted sixth-graders from a different school in a different southwestern city but from the same state. Students in this comparison group had similar demographics as the students in the Alien Rescue group (18% Hispanic, 4% African-American, and 78% Caucasian students, about 50% were female students). These students were asked to complete the same science knowledge test (as described above) after they completed a textbook textbook Informatics A treatise on a particular subject. See Bible. lesson on the solar system toward the end of their sixth-grade school year. An unpaired t-test t-test,
n an inferential statistic used to test for differences between two means (groups) only. This statistic is used for small samples (e.g.,
N < 30). Also called
t-ratio, stu-dent's t. indicated that the Alien Rescue group significantly outperformed the comparison group with respective means of 69.98 and 59.02 in their post science test, t (575) = 4.34, p < .001. We were aware, however, that the comparison of these two groups was limited given the two groups were from the intact classes and from different schools. Finding a true comparison group is a challenge in conducting classroom-based research. Thus we made an effort to use multiple data sources, both quantitative and qualitative, to provide a more complete picture of what was going on the classrooms.
The pretest and posttest comparison showed that sixth-graders' self-efficacy for science had significantly increased after being engaged in the computer-enhanced PBL environment. The finding that students' self-efficacy was a significant predictor of students' achievement was in support of self-efficacy research conducted in traditional classroom settings which showed that the belief and students' actual performance was highly correlated cor·re·late
v. cor·re·lat·ed, cor·re·lat·ing, cor·re·lates
1. To put or bring into causal, complementary, parallel, or reciprocal relation.
2. (Lane & Lane, 2001; Pajares & Miller, 1994). Interestingly, although students' attitudes toward science were positively related to their self-efficacy beliefs, the small increase in attitude scores was not significant from pretest to posttest and students' attitudes were not a predictor of their achievement. It is possible that this group of students already had high attitudes toward science prior to their PBL experience and there was a ceiling effect for further increase in attitude. More research is needed to replicate rep·li·cate
1. To duplicate, copy, reproduce, or repeat.
2. To reproduce or make an exact copy or copies of genetic material, a cell, or an organism.
A repetition of an experiment or a procedure. such findings especially with students whose attitudes are not as high at pre-assessment.
It is expected that students in the high self-efficacy or high attitude groups would perform better in their science test than students in the low self-efficacy or low attitude groups. This was the case before the students used Alien Rescue. However, after the implementation of the PBL program, it was interesting to note that students with low attitude but high self-efficacy scored the highest on their science achievement posttest while students in the high attitude group showed no difference in science achievement regardless of their self-efficacy levels. This interaction effect of self-efficacy and attitude suggested a strong relationship between self-efficacy and achievement especially when students' attitude toward science was less positive. That is, high self-efficacy played a more important role in improving science achievement for students who did not like science than for students who did like science. Having a positive attitude toward learning science, on the other hand, helped students maintain a certain level of achievement even when they did not feel capable. Attitude, therefore, seemed to mitigate mit·i·gate
To moderate in force or intensity.
miti·gation n. the effect of low self-efficacy.
Such findings have practical implications in that teachers can help students with low attitude or low self-efficacy increase their achievement level by enhancing their self-efficacy beliefs. Enhancing students' self-efficacy appears more likely to lead to an increase in the performance than enhancing their attitude. In Alien Rescue, students were encouraged to take control over their learning, and, more importantly, they were provided computer tools in assisting them to complete learning tasks on their own. When students succeeded in such a self-paced and self-directed environment, their motivation was high and their confidence in completing the task successfully also increased. Such increased self-efficacy appeared to be positively related to the actual performance.
Insights Offered by the Qualitative Data
Learning science. The qualitative data corroborated cor·rob·o·rate
tr.v. cor·rob·o·rat·ed, cor·rob·o·rat·ing, cor·rob·o·rates
To strengthen or support with other evidence; make more certain. See Synonyms at confirm. the findings from the quantitative data and offered more detailed information about what the students were experiencing as they learned science in this new PBL environment. The qualitative data showed that the sixth-graders learned and liked science, and felt more confident after using Alien Rescue successfully. In confirming the findings from the quantitative data, the qualitative data revealed why the students thought they understood science better. Some of the frequently cited reasons included: 1) students can use the tools provided in the program to look up the information, 2) they feel like being a scientist and are charged to solve a challenging problem, 3) they can learn on their own, and 4) Alien Rescue offers a different and interesting way of learning. Below are a few sample responses from the students to the question: "When working with Alien Rescue, do you feel that you can understand science better? Why or why not?"
Yes, because I can click on what I want to know instead of learning in a particular order.
Yes, because it made me feel like a scientist and as if I didn't have a teacher but learn everything on my own.
Yes, because Alien Rescue explains it more deeply so I can understand it more easily.
A student explained in the interview: "It's fun to work on your own and try to experience the real world experience of not having a teacher always by your side telling you what to do. Science is one of my best subjects and I've always liked science. With the Alien Rescue program, I got to see another side of science by seeing how real scientists work to get answers. It is very different from reading off a textbook. It's very interesting. It does make me want to know more about the solar system."
Attitude. Some students mentioned that they liked science more after using Alien Rescue. In addition to the reasons discussed above, they stated that they liked the hands-on activities provided by Alien Rescue, and that they had the chance to work on computers and in groups. Almost all the students stated that Alien Rescue made learning science fun. The quantitative data indicated that there was not a statistically significant increase in students' attitudes toward science from pretest to posttest and students' attitude was not a predictor of achievement. This is perhaps due to the reason that many students already liked science before being introduced to Alien Rescue, and all the students interviewed, whether they had a high or low achievement score or high or low attitude score, liked learning science using Alien Rescue and considered the program fun. This seemed to confirm the ceiling effect as shown in the quantitative data. A few students said their attitude toward science had not changed because they knew they would be going back to textbook learning once the unit was over. One student wrote, "I don't like science more, I just like this unit because it was enjoyable, but I know I still have to learn other things from the textbook. When I think about it, I feel sad." Although there was not a significant shift in their attitude toward science from before to after using Alien Rescue, all students appeared to enjoy the experience with Alien Rescue.
Self-efficacy. In support of the findings from the quantitative data, students said they were confident in learning science successfully after using Alien Rescue and mentioned that the program provided them the necessary tools to find the information and help them learn. One student said, "... it boosts my creativity, makes me want to know more because I know I can find more information." Another responded, "Only if science is always going to be like this. I don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. if I can do well on textbook now, maybe I can, but I really just want to learn using the computer and working with my friends. I will have more time to research on things and then I will be confident I know the information." Another student stated that "... because I know that if I can learn all that I did without teacher, I can learn even more with a teacher."
It is worth noting that all the students interviewed, whether they had a high or low post-achievement score, said they felt confident in learning science successfully using Alien Rescue because they could solve the problem on their own, rather than relying on their teacher. Some students said they were frustrated frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: at first because they did not know what to do and no teacher was there to give answers. However, they became more confident about learning science successfully in the PBL environment after they learned to use the computer tools embedded Inserted into. See embedded system. in the program to help them solve the problem. One student said in the interview, "I wasn't too confident at first when I knew I had to work on my own without the teacher, but now I'm more comfortable because I have already explored the program. I'm not worried about not finding answers. I will just try harder and if I still don't get it, I will ask my group members and they will help me out. My partner and I think very differently but we try to work things out and find what is best for the aliens." Such responses further illustrated the values of a PBL approach and support our hypothesis that building computer tools in PBL provides necessary scaffolding for sixth-graders to enjoy PBL benefits. A few students, however, stated their confidence level in being successful in learning science stayed the same because 1) they knew Alien Rescue was only one unit and they would go back to textbooks, and 2) they already knew quite a bit about science and they already have high self-efficacy beliefs about learning science. For a small number of students in this study, a positive experience of how science is taught in the classrooms did not appear to increase their attitude toward science as a subject or science self-efficacy beliefs. More research is needed to investigate if students' attitude or self-efficacy would change when they are exposed to more programs like Alien Rescue in their curriculum.
Although there was no control group in this study, the findings, based upon both quantitative and qualitative data, showed that Alien Rescue was effective in assisting students' learning. The computer-enhanced PBL environment presented students an opportunity to have more autonomy and responsibility for their own learning processes. Computer tools embedded in the environment assisted students in solving problems. Such an environment, though complex, offers an exciting opportunity for students to challenge themselves, develop their self-efficacy, and find learning relevant and meaningful. As a result, students had a better understanding of science concepts and felt more confident about being a successful learner after they solved a challenging problem.
In this study, we examined the effect of the computer-enhanced PBL environment on sixth-graders' self-efficacy, attitudes, and the knowledge they had gained about the solar system. Using authentic assessment Authentic assessment is an umbrella concept that refers to the measurement of "intellectual accomplishments that are worthwhile, significant, and meaningful," as compared to multiple choice standardized tests. is an important aspect of PBL instruction. In our research reported elsewhere (Liu & Bera, 2005; Liu et al., 2004), we assessed the problem-solving skills sixth-graders had developed by examining the problem solutions and rationales they provided. Because of our interest in motivational issues, our next step is to investigate if students' goal orientation, a related factor in students' motivation and achievement, is influenced by the PBL environment and if the goal orientation may relate to their self-efficacy beliefs and achievement when they are engaged in a computer PBL environment. Research on such motivational factors can help us better understand what motivates students to learn, how the motivational variables can jointly affect students' science learning, and how to design effective learning environments to assist students in learning.
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1 Chief river of Fujian prov., SE China, c.350 mi (560 km) long, rising in Wuyi shan and flowing SE to the South China Sea near Fuzhou; it receives several tributaries near Nanping. LIU
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Table 1 Means and Standard Deviations for the Science Achievement Test, Self-Efficacy, and Attitudes Toward Science from Pretest to Posttest Science Achievement Attitude Test (% correct Self-efficacy (Scale of from 0-100) Mean (Scale of 1-5) 1-5) Mean n (SD) n Mean (SD) n (SD) Pretest 464 47 (15.94) 464 3.94 (.73) 464 3.78 (.79) Posttest 464 70.52 (a) (18.09) 464 4.06 (a) (.72) 464 3.85 (.86) (a) Posttest significantly different from pretest, p<.001 (partial Eta Squared for Science Test and Self-efficacy = .72, and .03 respectively. Non-matching measures were dropped in the analyses). Table 2 Means and Standard Deviations for the Science Achievement Test for High and Low Self-Efficacy and Attitude Groups Low Attitude High Attitude Group Mean Group Mean n (SD) n (SD) Pretest Low Self-efficacy 184 43.82 (15.16) 72 44.28 (13.37) Group High Self-efficacy 58 48.83 (16.27) 144 52.72 (16.46) Group Posttest (a) Low Self-efficacy 179 66.10 (19.10) 80 73.51 (15.69) Group High Self-efficacy 49 76.86 (16.13) 150 73.06 (17.27) Group (a) the interaction was significant at p < .01 (partial Eta Squared = .02). Non-matching measures were dropped in the analyses.