Representing earth science concepts using slowmation: influences on middle school students' conceptual change

Mills, Reece (2017) Representing earth science concepts using slowmation: influences on middle school students' conceptual change. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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A number of challenges are currently impacting the quality of Earth science education in Australia. These include the introduction of a new Australian Curriculum that requires students learn about abstract Earth science concepts; the inadequacy of teachers' professional knowledge to address pedagogically these demands; the limitations of teacher education to alleviate pre-service teachers' perceived pedagogical inadequacy in teaching Earth science; and issues of students' durably held alternative conceptions about Earth science phenomena and perceived disengagement with the subject. These challenges call for research that investigates the efficacy of innovative conceptual change pedagogies that promote students' engagement with Earth science and enhance their conceptual understanding.

In response to this need, this study investigated the value of using student-generated stopmotion animation, or 'slowmation', as a conceptual change instructional approach. This study employed a mixed-methods intervention research design, generating both quantitative and qualitative data, in order to investigate three research questions: (1) Does the process of constructing a slowmation have a significant effect on students' conceptual change? (2) How does the process of constructing a slowmation influence students' conceptual change; and (3) Is students' interest, generated by the construction of a slowmation, a significant predictor of conceptual change?

Four classes of Year 9 students participated in this study. Two classes were treated as an intervention group and participated in the construction of a slowmation (N=52), while two comparison classes experienced 'teaching as usual' (N=43). All students in the intervention and comparison conditions completed a two-tiered multiple-choice test (i.e., the GeoQuiz), developed and validated by the researcher, which tested students' alternative Earth science conceptions before and after their participation in the study. A Likert-style survey that gauged students' interest in learning science, the Student Interest in Learning Science (SILS) Survey, was also administered to all students before and after the project. Selected students from the intervention condition were audio recorded to capture their discussions during the construction process, and the same students were interviewed about their learning experience upon completion of the project.

In answer to the first research question, a significant improvement was found in the GeoQuiz scores of students who constructed a slowmation, which indicates that conceptual change occurred. At the same time, a significant improvement was also found for students in the comparison classes. This suggests that creating a slowmation was no more effective in bringing about conceptual change than teaching as usual. In response to the second research question, analysis of the qualitative data in this study found that the construction process afforded 'teachable moments' as students recursively checked the accuracy of their representations with their teacher. The construction process also stimulated students' enjoyment, which they perceived to enhance their learning. Despite these affordances, however, significant pedagogical considerations arose from the use of slowmation as an instructional strategy in a junior secondary school context. These issues appeared to inhibit opportunities for conceptual change to occur. Finally, in answer to the third research question, it was found that students' interest in learning about science, and geology, was significantly greater if they participated in the construction of a slowmation, compared to teaching as usual. Interest was also found to be a significant predictor of students' conceptual change.

The findings from this study have important implications for understanding the value of using slowmation construction as a conceptual change strategy in a junior secondary science context. As such, they informed the development of a pedagogical framework, the Learning with Slowmation framework, for constructing slowmations in a junior secondary science context. This framework, as well as the significance and implications of the broader findings for improving teaching practice in Earth science education, are presented.

Item ID: 50987
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: alternative conceptions, astronomy, conceptual change, earth science, geography, geology, instructional approaches, interest, mixed methods intervention, plate tectonics, slowmation, stop-motion animation
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Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Mills, Reece, Tomas, Louisa, and Lewthwaite, Brian (2017) Junior secondary school students' conceptions about plate tectonics. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 26 (4). pp. 297-310.

Mills, Reece, Tomas, Louisa, and Lewthwaite, Brian (2016) Learning in Earth and space science: a review of conceptual change instructional approaches. International Journal of Science Education, 38 (5). pp. 767-790.

Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2017 01:51
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930102 Learner and Learning Processes @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930201 Pedagogy @ 50%
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