University of Padova (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN20 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 2969-2977
ISBN: 978-84-09-17979-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2020.0889
Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Scientific subjects are often considered difficult and boring by students, also because of the way in which they are taught. The first aim of the research was to verify the possibility of dealing with a topic provided by the educational curriculum, the nervous system, by addressing some additional concepts and developing other ones. The second objective was to confirm the effectiveness of a laboratory approach to teaching, based on the scientific method and on educational materials and methodologies different from of the traditional frontal lesson.

For this experimental activity we took advantage of the collaboration of the primary school “Don Bosco” in Torreglia (Italy).
The topic was dealt with both an experimental group, in which an innovative teaching approach was adopted, and a control group, in which a traditional approach has been adopted, that is largely inspired by the contents of primary school textbooks.

Immediately we realized that the primary school textbook was unsuitable, concerning both the contents that showed some misconceptions and the very simplified images. Therefore, in our opinion, the treatment of the nervous system proposed by the textbook could not be appropriate neither to the importance and richness of the topic, nor to the curiosity and thirst for knowledge of children.

We used a laboratory path to introduce the topic, without fully anticipate the explanation according to the discovery method, an educational technique that makes the lesson deeply exciting, motivating and engaging. This method led the students toward a deeply learning and understanding, in addition to a greater motivation, interest and curiosity.

The materials used during the lessons were diversified, attractive and communicative, with the purpose of making the students active and engaged in the activities. The materials and methods were videos and images, PowerPoint presentations, discussion in classroom, role playing activities in the gym, conceptual maps, exercises on the notebook and the use of 3D models.

We took advantage of the deductive method, introducing the structure of nervous system (macroscopic point of view), then explaining the nervous cells and how communication between neurons happens (microscopic point of view), concluding with the description of brain and its functions, a topic that connects and unifies in itself the previous ones.

The results of the didactic experimentation that there statistically significant differences between the two groups from the point of view of numerical evaluation, but during lessons the difference emerged, because the laboratory didactics produced interest, motivation and active involvement in those pupils who had been defined more passive and slower by their teacher.

Furthermore, in the answers to the open questions of the final test, the majority of the students of the experimental group have shown to have a qualitatively better knowledge, richer and less stereotyped, responding with greater completeness, accuracy, precision and variety of terms than control group that gave almost standard answers.
Biology, experimental method, laboratory didactics, nervous system, primary school.