Sunday, December 08, 2013

A New Book Worth The Read
A new book has been recently authored by Lee Shumow and Jennifer A. Schmidt, both Professors of Educational Psychology at Northern Illinois University, titled, Enhancing Adolescents’ Motivation for Science research-based strategies for teaching male and female students.  After reading the book I am struck by the critical need for positive relationships in the science classroom between peer and peer and between teacher and peer.   The essence of achievement in the classroom results from listening, helping, accommodating new ideas, communicating and follow-through to obtain shared goals.  Collaboration is another hallmark and life-long attribute that students need to develop, which fosters discussion, relationship and problem-solving abilities among students.  
The research shows that female students respond more dramatically to positive caring relationships in the science classroom given more immediate and constructive feedback.  It has been shown that female students are prone to issues of lack of confidence not motivation.  The ability gap between male and females students does not exist, so it boils down to relationships in the classroom.
The promotion of relevance during instruction goes a long way helping to sustain interest.  The authors site research that champions the effort to use everyday and well known material in labs, to model enthusiasm for the process of doing science,  tell stories to convey ideas, use analogies or metaphors to further describe events and associate what is being studied to students’ own interest and their understanding.
From the book on page 60-61 it is stated, “Emotional experience in science also appears to exert particularly strong influence on girls’ confidence in their abilities.  In our research, girls were far more likely than boys to report feeling stressed in science, and feeling stressed during class was related to a decline in confidence.  In several studies, female students have attributed their confidence about doing well in STEM fields to their teachers’ qualities more often than have male students.”
The book provides great case studies and researched results explaining the motivation of students to learn science in the high school classroom.  The findings described in this book are a testimony to the effectiveness of Project-Based-Leaning (PBL).   PBL models address the development of these same attributes within students lending to their understanding.  This model for learning provides students with autonomy, inspired challenges, relevance and rigor and an emotional supporting learning environments that transfers into academic success!