Weizmann Institute of Science (ISRAEL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN13 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Page: 2252 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-616-3822-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The worldwide reforms today in science and technology education reflect the view that 21st century teaching and learning should focus on the blending of specific skills, content knowledge, expertise and literacy. These reforms advocate self-directed learning and communication skills that pose a number of new challenges: how to blend the explicit instruction of learning skills into science contents instruction; how can the education system promote the development of self-directed learners in heterogeneous classes?

One solution is the development of digital environments for learning science content and science skills that will offer alternative paths of learning and develop students' self-regulation capabilities. However, developing such environments poses many questions for curriculum developers including suitability to different types of learners and the type of scaffolding needed to support and promote self-regulation and meaningful learning. The present study investigates some of these questions.

The study was carried out in the context of 7th grade science curriculum that embedded the study of learning skills in science content. A digital learning environment and activities for 7th grade science through problem solving was designed with the aim of catering to the needs of different learners and to foster self-regulation capabilities. The activities accompany the study of several science (chemistry) topics in the curriculum and several learning skills. The environment offers students a choice of alternative learning paths characterized by different degrees of scaffolding: an autonomous path without any scaffolding, a path with hints and a guided path that navigates students in the solution process. The scaffolding offered is conceptual, meta-cognitive, procedural or strategic.

The goal of our study is to characterize the different self-regulating behaviors demonstrated while using different paths, and to identify students' considerations in choosing the particular learning paths in the digital environment. Additionally, the study appraised the manner in which these considerations relate to prior results on assessment tasks and students' self-regulation learning behaviors.
The research population consists of 80 students who were taught the same curriculum materials. All students were asked to complete a self-regulation questionnaire, assessment tasks and were asked to write a reflective report. Following the assessment tasks the students worked with the digital environment. Data was obtained through use of tracing methods, from results of the digital activities, and from talk aloud protocols and interviews with selected students. Results show a variety of considerations for choosing learning paths including students' fear of failure, their perceived abilities, and their interest in being challenged. Further results shed light on the degree of contribution of the varied types of scaffolding. These results provide an important contribution to the further evolution of digital learning environments aimed at the development of self-directed learners.
Innovation, digital environments, learning skills for science, 21st century skills, self regulated learning.