Data Acquisition

Struggling Science Students Can Improve Science Understanding with Web-based Teaching, Study

12 February 2018

According to recent research, web-based learning tools may be the solution for helping students struggling with science courses.

Publishing their findings in the International Journal of Science Education, researchers made four interactive online science units available to 13 middle schools in two different states.

Researchers determined that of the over 2,300 students that the units were tested on, all of the participating students improved their science knowledge.

The results were considerably striking for students with learning disabilities, improving their science knowledge assessment scores by 18 percentage points from the test taken before the online tools were available to after students had access to the online tools.

Likewise, English language learners also increased 15 percentage points after having access to the online tools while students taught the same content via traditional methods (such as textbooks) only demonstrated five-point increases.

"These significant findings demonstrate that the online curriculum was effective in improving science knowledge for students who struggle with science," said Dr. Fatima Terrazas Arellanes of the University of Oregon, principal investigator of the project. "Well-designed instructional technology really works to lessen the science literacy gap among diverse groups of learners. Technology offers an engaging and motivating environment for learning, and we are just beginning to understand how we can use it effectively to support students with learning disabilities and English language learners."

Dr. Terrazas Arellanes also added, "Our work adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that instructional technology has a place in the classrooms of today and tomorrow — especially for science and especially for students with learning disabilities. We have shown that these tools are not only effective, but can be easily integrated."

The study is published in the International Journal of Science Education.

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