The Impact of Explore-Instruct Teaching Approach on University Students’ Scientific Reasoning at The United Arab Emirates.
The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Background: Minds of people living in the present and future centuries should differ from those of the ones lived before. It is therefore the concern of societies looking for glory, to enhance their people cognitive abilities of problem solving and critical thinking to face contemporary challenges. In the scientific domain, Scientific Reasoning (SR) is one of the critical thinking dimensions in problem solving. Therefore, in order for societies, to enhance the quality of their human resources, there is an urge to raise the scientific reasoning abilities of their personnel. A wise choice of a tool to raise SR would be the formal education. Therefore, the pressing question would be whether exist any teaching strategy would assist in reaching the former goal. Features of such teaching strategy may be figured out by studying pedagogies and cognition. Explore-instruct teaching strategy has been chosen here to explore its impact in developing scientific reasoning ability and compare it to the Instruct-Solve traditional strategy. Purpose: The purpose of this research was to study the impact of explore-instruct teaching approach on college students’ scientific reasoning development in the United Arab Emirates, and to explore the perspectives of participating students who experienced this approach. Methods: The study took place in a private university at the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The participants were students studying General Physics (I). The study compared the development in SR in the control group which receives traditional physics lectures via “Instruct-solve” and the experimental group that received the same lectures via “explore-instruct” teaching approach. Scores of students in Lawson Classroom Scientific Reasoning Test were compared for the two groups prior and post the course in a four-month semester. The perspectives of students experienced the explore-instruct approach were revealed through e-mails interviews which included open-ended questions and one last close-ended question. Results: The study quantitatively proved that both teaching strategies had no significant effect on the Proportional Reasoning (PPR) of the participants, but they resulted in a normalized gain in the Control of Variables (CoV) and Correlational Reasoning (CRR) dimensions of scientific reasoning. But Explore-Instruct teaching approach made a higher normalized gain in CoV than the traditional approach of Instruct-Solve. Qualitative data collected via email interviews to study perspectives of students; revealed preference for the Explore-instruct teaching approach by some students when there is no work to be submitted for assessment. But students, in general, preferred the traditional approach when lab reports or any post-session work to be completed and submitted for assessment. Implications/Contributions: Higher education in general, and scientific and technological education, have a powerful role in qualifying personnel leading to developing economies. It has been therefore widely argued that the complexity of challenges encountered by the 21st society increased with the advance in technology, the education system is required to focus on improving students’ problem-solving cognitive skills. Scientific reasoning is one of the essential cognitive skills whose deficiency often leads to judgment errors when facing an issue. Studying the impact of the Explore-Instruct teaching approach on scientific reasoning would provide teachers, curriculum developers, educational quality assurance personnel, and decision-makers with evidence of improvement of CoV in a period of 4 months only, via simple flip in order of periods of the problem solving or conducting an experiment by the students and the instructor's period of lecturing. This will accordingly assist educators in making their choices.
Explore-Instruct, Scientific Reasoning, Control of Variables, Teaching approach, explore-instruct, scientific reasoning, control of variables, teaching approach, United Arab Emirates (UAE), critical thinking