Structuring Group Learning Within A Web-Based Science Inquiry Program


Yarnall, L., & Penuel, W. R. (2002, January). Structuring group learning within a Web-based science inquiry program. In G. Stahl (Ed.), Proceedings of the Computer Support for Collaborative Learning Conference 2002 (pp. 577-578). Boulder, CO: University of Colorado.


With an increased emphasis on inquiry in science education nationwide, we examined trends in the ways science teachers organized students into groups to implement one prominent one Web-based science inquiry program, Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE). Our study focused on survey and case study data that SRI International collected as part of its ongoing evaluation of GLOBE (Means et al., 2001). We hypothesized: (1) teachers who are active in implementing an inquiry-based science program more frequently employ collaboration for cognitively complex activities than teachers who are less active implementers; (2) active teachers use collaboration more over time; and, (3) active GLOBE teachers who organize learning by collaborative groups perceive greater learning benefits than active teachers who rarely used collaboration. Our study confirmed that active teachers of an inquiry-based science program use collaboration more over time, but they are no more likely than less active teachers to see collaboration as beneficial to student learning. We also found that active teachers were likely to use collaborative small groups primarily to support data collection and reporting tasks to make them fit better into the classroom schedule than for data analysis and interpretation.

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