Teaching science using hands on, storytelling and thinking process[1].


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Teaching science using hands on, storytelling and thinking process[1].

  1. 1. – Experience is Worth a Thousand Pictures Teaching science using hands-on storytelling and thinking process. Over the last 15 years, I have been developing science programs and usingthose programs working in different frameworks, including gifted programs. Theprograms, developed together with my father, Dr. Rami Kallir, emphasize hands-onscience, use stories and specialized thinking tools called the theory of constraints(TOC). I hear all the time from my students that the way they study science in myclass does not resemble the way they study at school. When I ask them to tell aboutthe difference, the answer I get is that “your science lessons are much more fun!”When I ask if they think they study this way more, they are very definite thatexperiments and stories are the best way to study. One student told me that “youcannot not comprehend something that way” (("‫."אתה לא יכול שלא לקלוט ככה משהו‬ My typical science lesson starts with storytelling. For example, in a lesson onspecific weight I tell about Archimedes who looked for a way to identity the kingcrown’s metal ingredients. The second part is based on inquiry and experiments,performed by each one of the pupils. The experiment can explain something in thestory, lead to solution or present a concept. The thinking tools are integrated into bothparts. The story contains a conflict or continuous events and requires inventivethinking. The experiments are presented in a way that we can change a parameter andlearn more from the consequences. The explanation use cause-effect logic. The goal of this review is to determine whether my understanding of scienceteaching, developed through practical experience, is supported by researchscholarship. I deal with each of the factors that make up our approach – TOC,storytelling, experimentation – separately, summarizing the relevant literature anddiscussing it in the context of our own work.The Theory Of Constraints (TOC) thinking tools Theory of Constraints (TOC) is a management philosophy developed by Dr.Eliyahu M. Goldratt. The TOC management problem solving tools are used bythousands of companies and government organizations and are taught in hundreds ofcolleges, universities and business schools (Kim et al.; 2008). TOC takes aprogressive approach to improve a system (Goldratt, 1990). The TOC method forbrining desired improvements is developed through the answers to three questions: 1)what to change, 2) what to change to, 3) how to cause the change? In 1995, Dr. Goldratt established a non profit foundation called TOC forEducation. He modified the original generic tools into three specific thinking tools -the Cloud, the Branch and the Ambitious target tree, and applied them in the field ofeducation worldwide. At the moment, millions of children in over 17 countries areapplying these generic tools. The cloud analyses the details of a conflict, meaningful action or decision in aconcise and non provocative way. It is a diagram with five statements that describethe “wants”, the “needs” and the “common objective”. The cloud is appropriate fordealing with tough personal decisions, interpersonal conflict or negotiation.The Branch is used to understand cause-effect links between actions andconsequences, make predictions, and create new and better solutions.The Ambitious Target Tree (ATT) supports the need to describe how to make thechange happen and based on simple, "if-then" links. All rights reserved to Dr. Rami Kallir Ltd © Tel 972-4-6380422, Fax: 972-4-6380374, Kallir@netvision.net.il
  2. 2. – Experience is Worth a Thousand Pictures The major applications for the TOC thinking tools are behavior performing andcontents teaching. Practical examples can be seen in the official website of TOC forEducation organization at: http://www.tocforeducation.com/caseteach.html Little research has been done into the effectiveness of the TOC thinking tools ineducation. Kim et al. (2008) provide a review of TOC developments as reported in thepublic domain. According to this review, a total of 114 papers have been publishedbetween 1994 and early 2006. Among them there are three that deal with educationand none of these addresses the teaching of science. Hatcher & Yen (2005) introduces the application of TOC tools in E-learning.They claim that E-learning method requires that instructors and students adapt a newway of communicating and interacting. The false sense of freedom may lead todegraded education and non-essential learning. They provide some examples forusing the TOC tools in and conclude that “TOC offers critical thinking and visualcommunication tools in identification of the critical constraints. Instructors as well asstudents benefit from TOC in the design and planning of E-learning courses,including conflict resolution”. In the years 2000-2001 35,000 teachers in Malaysia were trained throughcurriculum development centers, and 650,000 students learned curriculum throughTOC. The TOC has been introduced in all primary and secondary schools throughoutthe different subject matter. Balakrishnan (2007) demonstrate the use of TOC in teaching moral educationin Malaysia. The article detailed the benefits of using the three tools, for students andteachers. The conclusion is that “The application of TOC in Moral Education enablesstudents to identify the key ideas or moral dilemmas within a lesson or text. They areable to sequence what they have learned into a logical order for improvedunderstanding... They can resolve their moral dilemmas and know how to predict theconsequences of their own actions and therefore be able to control their own negativebehavior. All these enable them to be moral students in the future.” Since there is no literature on the effectiveness of the TOC thinking tools inscience teaching, I did not find the written proof I was looking for. Yet, both articlesindicate that TOC is beneficial.Storytelling in science class Storytelling has long been used in the classroom. In fact, during almost all thehistory of Humankind, knowledge on all subjects has been passed on by storytelling.Aristotle and his peers used the spoken word to teach all that they knew and thusscience was being developed and passed along. A narrative or story, in its broadest sense, is anything told or recounted; morenarrowly, and more usually, something told or recounted in the form of a causally-linked set of events or connected series of happenings, whether true or fictitious.Green (2004) adds that "stories are a structure for organizing and transmittinginformation, and for creating meaning in our lives and environments. A story requiresraising unanswered questions or unresolved conflicts; characters may encounter andthen resolve a crisis or crises".Papadimitriou (2003) argues that “Stories are in a certain intrinsic sense interesting, inthat they are attractive, high-priority memory fodder. Everything else being equal, weare much more likely to remember a story than a logical argument.” All rights reserved to Dr. Rami Kallir Ltd © Tel 972-4-6380422, Fax: 972-4-6380374, Kallir@netvision.net.il
  3. 3. – Experience is Worth a Thousand Pictures Stories can create interest in students. This idea has been substantiated bytrials at the University of Buffalo, where attendance in science classes has beenboosted from 50–65 % to 95 % by the use of stories and case studies in teaching(Goldbaum, 2000). The same study concluded that, as a result of the story approach,students who had appeared tired and disinterested during lectures were suddenlyanimated and involved.Kelleher (2006) in her thesis describes Storytelling Alice, a programmingenvironment that gives middle school girls a positive first experience with computerprogramming. Participants who used Storytelling Alice and Generic Alice wereequally successful at learning basic programming concepts. However, users ofStorytelling Alice show more evidence of engagement with programming.Storytelling Alice users spent 42% more time programming and were more than threetimes as likely to sneak extra time to continue working on their programs. Relevance of the material to students lives is often cited as an importantmotivational factor in teaching. Campbell (1998) suggests that pupils can beencouraged to view physics as relevant to their lives, rather than as a mere collectionof facts, by teaching with stories culled from the media. Goldbaum (2000) adds thatstories get pupils involved in science, not as spectators but as participants Although I have never used quantitive measures of achievement to assess mywork, research shows that stories can improve students achievement. Casey et al(2008) investigated the effects of a storytelling-context for teaching geometry skills tokindergarten kids compared two types of spatial interventions: one with a storycontext and one without. The findings showed that storytelling-contexts were moreeffective than de-contextualized formats for learning geometry across both near- andfar-transfer tasks. Although many science teachers make use of anecdotes and stories in theirlessons, storytelling is not a formally accepted teaching skill. However, Cooper et al.(1983) provides some formal basis. They analyzed the complex teaching behaviors ofa distinguished professor at a large university, reputed to be a gifted instructor. Histeaching was investigated to determine specifically how he accomplished his teachinggoals. A major finding was that the instructor incorporated a storytelling technique toimpart information and to involve students. Stories provide a structure for remembering. Because stories provide naturalconnections between events and concepts, mentioning one part of the story may helpevoke the other parts of the story. Weber (1993) has shown that stories are easilyincorporated into the memory as chains of events, and thus storytelling may helpchildren to link cause and effect; hence, illustrating a scientific concept in the form ofa story improves pupils’ science learning. My practical experience shows that when I say “once upon a time” I get fullattention of the class and students tend to relate scientific concepts to the relevantstory. The literature’s findings give consistent evidence on the successful use ofstorytelling in class and strengthen my claim.Hands-on science A major element in my classes is the hands-on science. I believe that “If onepicture equals a thousand words, then one experience equals a thousand pictures”.This concept is combined in our programs with a constructivist teaching method thatenables every student to conduct the experiment by himself. All rights reserved to Dr. Rami Kallir Ltd © Tel 972-4-6380422, Fax: 972-4-6380374, Kallir@netvision.net.il
  4. 4. – Experience is Worth a Thousand PicturesResearch on the effectiveness of activity-based science programs is extensive andthere have been many measures of its effect on student performance. Rissing & Cogan (2008) measured the performance of college biologystudents. They compared an inquiry-based, hands-on laboratory exercise with astandard exercise. The result showed that student performance increased significantlyafter completion of the inquiry exercise, and did not increase after completion of thecontrol, standard exercise. Stohr-Hunt (1996) examines the relationship between frequency of hands-onexperiences and standardized science achievement scores. The research studies asample of 24,599 eighth-grade students. A cognitive test battery was used to measurestudent achievement. Results from a self administered teacher questionnaire providedinformation regarding the frequency of hands-on experience. Teachers were asked“How often do students conduct science experiments in class?’ To ensure thatteachers did not confuse student hands-on experience with teacher experience,teachers were also asked “How often do you demonstrate a science experiment inclass?’ Students who experienced hands-on activities frequently had significantly ( p< .OOl) higher scores of science achievement than those students who experiencedhands-on science infrequently. Roberts & Wassersug (2009) evaluated the effect of early exposure to originalscientific research on producing career scientists. They examined a hands-on summerscience research program for high school students and compared participants in thatprogram with science students that only began their hands-on research experienceonce in university. The data indicated that students who participated in originalscientific research while in high school were significantly more likely (p<.005) toboth enter and maintain a career in science compared to students whose first researchexperience didn’t occur until university. Their conclusion was that more hands-onhigh school science research programs could help increase the number of studentsentering and maintaining scientific careers. Yet, Roberts & Wassersug also argue that: "… it is patently absurd to believethat an infant could understand a null hypothesis or what it would mean to design andexecute a controlled experiment. Starting in science young could inspire children to acareer in the field. However, starting in science too young might lead students toreject science as a career because of the monotony of the methodology or the tediumof its execution". The literature’s findings give evidence on the effectiveness of activity-basedscience. The conclusions of Stohr-Hunt (1996) strongly support my approach.I disagree with Roberts & Wassersug (2009) stand regard starting in science young.I believe that using the right methods can prevent this monotony in every age.Conclusion It is generally accepted that in order to teach effectively, a wide range ofmethods can be used. This approach comes from the belief that traditional teachingmethods do not help students understand scientific concepts or transfer the principleslearned in the classroom to other situations.Each aspect of our pedagogical approach – TOC, story telling, and active learning,provides, on its own, an enriched learning experience. Research supports my ownpractical experience: storytelling and hands-on experience improve science learning. All rights reserved to Dr. Rami Kallir Ltd © Tel 972-4-6380422, Fax: 972-4-6380374, Kallir@netvision.net.il
  5. 5. – Experience is Worth a Thousand PicturesAlthough initial studies indicate that TOC is also beneficial, there is not enoughresearch on this question to conclude that TOC really is helpful. But, in my experience, the strength of our method is not that in the individualmethods but in the synergy. The storytelling is a stimulus for experiments; theexperiments lead to solution or present a concept in the story. The TOC tools, apowerful thinking tool in themselves, naturally support hands-on experiments andstorytelling.HypothesisA: Using the combination of the three factors (hands-on learning, storytelling andTOC thinking tools) to teach can increase children’s performance on assessment testscompared with standard or cookbook formats.B: Using the combination of the three factors (hands-on learning, storytelling andTOC thinking tools) to teach is better than using them serially.Research QuestionsTo examine whether children learn science better when they study through inquiryand storytelling approach: • Do they remember the material longer? • Do they improve their achievements in science? • Are they more able to transfer knowledge or ways of thinking and apply them in different contexts? • Are they more motivated to learning? • Do they improve their ability to analyze problems and solve them? All rights reserved to Dr. Rami Kallir Ltd © Tel 972-4-6380422, Fax: 972-4-6380374, Kallir@netvision.net.il
  6. 6. – Experience is Worth a Thousand PicturesREFERENCESBalakrishnan V, The Use of Theory of Constraints (TOC) in Teaching of Moral Education: Malaysia, Conference .Presentation, Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia, 2007Campbell, P. (1998) Using stories to enrich the physics curriculum. Physics Education, 33(6), 356–359.Casey B, Erkut S, Ceder I, Mercer Young J, Use of a storytelling context to improve girls and boys geometryskills in kindergarten, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Vol. 29 No.1 p29-48 Jan-Feb 2008.Cooper C, Orban D, Henry R, Townsend J, Teaching and storytelling: An ethnographic study of the instructionalprocess in the college classroom, Instructional Science, Vol.12, No. 2, July 1983.Goldbaum, E. (2000) Grant to advance case study approach. University of Buffalo Reporter, 31(21), 1.Goldratt, E.M. (1990), What is This Thing Called Theory of Constraints and How Should it beImplemented?, North River Press, New York, NY.Green M, Storytelling in Teaching, Observer, vol. 17, No. 4, April 2004.Hatcher M, Yen M, Using theory of constraints in E-Learning for overcoming internal, external, cultural, andinternational constraints, Journal of the academy of Business and Economics, March 2005.Kelleher C, Motivating programming: using storytelling to make computer programming attractive to middleschool girls, Carnegie Mellon University, 2006.Kim S, Mabin VJ, Davies J, The theory of constraints thinking processes: retrospect and prospect, internationalJournal of Operations & Production Management, Volume 28, Issue 2, 2008Papadimitriou, Christos H., MythematiCS: In Praise of Storytelling in the Teaching of Computer Science andMath, ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, Volume 35, Issue 3, Sept. 2003.Rissing SW, Cogan JG, Can an Inquiry Approach Improve College Student Learning in a Teaching Laboratory?The Ohio State University, Columbus, 2008Roberts L, Wassersug R, Does Doing Scientific Research in High School Correlate with Students Staying inScience? A Half-Century Retrospective Study, Research in Science Education, Vol. 39, No. 2, pp. 251-256, March2009.Stohr-Hunt PM, An Analysis of Frequency of Hands-on Experience and Science Achievement, Journal ofresearch in science teaching Vol. 33, No. 1, PP. 101-109, 1996.Weber, S. (1993) The narrative anecdote in teacher education. Journal of Education for Teaching, 19(1), 71–82. All rights reserved to Dr. Rami Kallir Ltd © Tel 972-4-6380422, Fax: 972-4-6380374, Kallir@netvision.net.il