THE DIDACTICS OF BIOLOGY IN PRIMARY SCHOOL: AN INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO SKELETAL SYSTEM TEACHING IN FIFTH CLASS BASED ON COMPARATIVE VERTEBRATE ANATOMY
If the primary target of school is to train enthusiast and curious students, able to life long learning. Therefore, its responsibility is to look for methodologies and practices to do this. In the last years, the didactic research demonstrated that children learn more efficiently through an active and experiential learning. In fact, the traditional methods do not permit children to become protagonists of their learning process.
In this view, we projected and conducted a learning unit about the study of the skeletal system in vertebrates in a Primary School of the province of Padua (Italy).
The purpose of this experimental research was double: first of all, we wanted to confirm the effectiveness of laboratory approach for the teaching of Sciences; moreover, we wanted to verify that Comparative Anatomy could be also dealth in Primary School. The learning unit was realized in two fifth grade classes and I used two different approaches: a traditional method (control group), based on a mnemonic learning and on a study from the school book, and a laboratory approach based on the scientific method (experimental group).
In the experimental group, the skeletal system has been studied comparing some bones from different species of animal (chicken, duck, pig and cow). The manipulation and the direct observation of biological material allowed students to observe morphological similarities and differences in vertebrates, better understanding the structure of vertebrate skeleton.
The obtained data confirm that the laboratory approach, if opportunely applied, allows to have good results or anyway better. In the first lesson of the learning unit, the experimental group showed to possess scarce abilities to pay attention and a bad self-control compared to the control group, that showed to have good abilities. However, results demonstrated that at the end of the teaching pathway the two groups reached a similar level of competence. Furthermore, the use of Comparative Anatomy allowed students of experimental group to better understand differences and similarities of the vertebrate skeletons. So, this discipline helped students to mature a more complete and qualitatively better knowledge about the skeletal system. From the analysis of the self-evaluations, it emerged that almost the totality of the children appreciated the laboratory activities. Also those from control group, where a lesson with laboratory approach has been realized at the end of the experimentation, preferred the direct observation and the manipulation of the biological material than frontal lessons.
Therefore, the Scientific Teaching can progress towards gradual improvement, under the stimulus of the desire for innovation.