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Exploring student problem finding to promote science learning in the classroom
Problem finding
Preparatory learning
Conceptual understanding
Science education
Issue Date: 
Paper presented at the International Science Education Conference, Singapore, 25-27 November 2014
While many studies have been conducted on problem solving and its application in
science classroom contexts, comparatively little is understood about the process and efficacy
of student problem finding as well as its implications for classroom learning. This paper
presents findings from a recent pilot study on student problem finding among mixed ability
students learning science in a Singapore primary school. As part of a larger research study
designed to generate empirical support for preparatory benefits of problem finding and to
better understand the basic design of an efficacious problem finding based lesson, this initial
study sought to address two related fundamental questions: 1) Can students generate
problems relevant to target science concepts they have yet been formally taught?
2) What kind of problem finding task can help students generate problems relevant to target
science concepts? Findings suggest that a problem finding task design which integrated relevant data
into the problem situation descriptive text yielded more consistent problem finding
performance than text only design. Yet, students on the text only task attained higher mean
score for transfer item in the immediate posttest than those who worked on tasks with
additional supporting data. In the long run, these problem finding investigations are likely to
generate interesting lines of inquiry into the use of problem finding to not only help students
learn science better, but also develop their dispositions of inventive thinking and creativity.
Appears in Collections:Conference Papers

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