Thu 18.09.2014 - 10:30-12:40 - Grafika

Inquiry Learning for Gifted Children  Paper  Presentation

Presenter: Tessa H. S. Eysink
Author(s): Tessa H. S. Eysink, (University of Twente, The Netherlands)

With the arrival of more computers in primary education, also more opportunities for new instructional methods are born. An example is inquiry learning which can easily be implemented in simulation-based learning environments. In inquiry learning, children investigate domains by asking questions, performing experiments, and drawing conclusions. Inquiry tasks have a high level of abstraction and complexity calling upon scientific reasoning. Therefore, they match the learning characteristics and instructional needs of gifted children. Research, however, has shown that inquiry learning in general is difficult and should be supported. It is unknown, though, whether gifted children experience problems too and if so, how much support is necessary for good results and how this influences their flow and mood.
This led to a study in which the effects of support on the acquisition of knowledge of gifted learners and their flow and mood during inquiry learning were investigated. Sixty-four gifted primary school children were randomly assigned to one of three conditions differing in the amount of support given in an inquiry task in the electricity domain. Learners in the unstructured inquiry condition received three open inquiry assignments and experimented without receiving extra support. In the structured inquiry condition, learners were guided through the inquiry cycle by a structured worksheet while experimenting. In the exposed inquiry condition, a video was presented on which a teacher demonstrated relevant experiments while guiding learners through the inquiry cycle. Results showed that learners in the structured inquiry condition outperformed those in the other two conditions on the posttest. In addition, these learners experienced significantly more flow and were more motivated.
The overall conclusion is that gifted children also benefit from support. In fact, they need this support to reach a positive mood, experience flow and perform well. Implications for the design of simulation-based learning environments will be discussed.