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Effects of collaborative group composition and inquiry instruction on reasoning gains and achievement in undergraduate biology.

Jensen JL, Lawson A - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Bottom Line: Inquiry instruction, as a whole, led to significantly greater gains in reasoning ability and achievement.Low-reasoning students made significantly greater reasoning gains within inquiry instruction when grouped with other low reasoners than when grouped with either medium or high reasoners.Results are consistent with equilibration theory, supporting the idea that students benefit from the opportunity for self-regulation without the guidance or direction of a more capable peer.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA. jamie.jensen@byu.edu

ABSTRACT
This study compared the effectiveness of collaborative group composition and instructional method on reasoning gains and achievement in college biology. Based on initial student reasoning ability (i.e., low, medium, or high), students were assigned to either homogeneous or heterogeneous collaborative groups within either inquiry or didactic instruction. Achievement and reasoning gains were assessed at the end of the semester. Inquiry instruction, as a whole, led to significantly greater gains in reasoning ability and achievement. Inquiry instruction also led to greater confidence and more positive attitudes toward collaboration. Low-reasoning students made significantly greater reasoning gains within inquiry instruction when grouped with other low reasoners than when grouped with either medium or high reasoners. Results are consistent with equilibration theory, supporting the idea that students benefit from the opportunity for self-regulation without the guidance or direction of a more capable peer.

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Scores on reasoning transfer items organized by the initial reasoning ability of the student and the group composition in which they were placed in inquiry instruction (a) and didactic instruction (b). Scores represent the average score on six reasoning transfer items administered as part of the final exam. An asterisk (*) indicates that the difference in reasoning transfer scores among low reasoners is significant (p = 0.02). φ, Low reasoners in homogeneous groups within the inquiry condition significantly outperformed low reasoners in homogeneous groups within the didactic section (p < 0.01) and performed equally as well as high reasoners in the inquiry condition (p = NS). Overall, heterogeneous groups outperformed homogeneous groups within the didactic condition (p = 0.02).
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Figure 3: Scores on reasoning transfer items organized by the initial reasoning ability of the student and the group composition in which they were placed in inquiry instruction (a) and didactic instruction (b). Scores represent the average score on six reasoning transfer items administered as part of the final exam. An asterisk (*) indicates that the difference in reasoning transfer scores among low reasoners is significant (p = 0.02). φ, Low reasoners in homogeneous groups within the inquiry condition significantly outperformed low reasoners in homogeneous groups within the didactic section (p < 0.01) and performed equally as well as high reasoners in the inquiry condition (p = NS). Overall, heterogeneous groups outperformed homogeneous groups within the didactic condition (p = 0.02).

Mentions: Instructional Method. No significant differences were found between the inquiry and didactic sections for overall reasoning gains (n = 73, Minquiry = 1.97; n = 71, Mdidactic = 2.07; F = 0.01, p = NS; reasoning gains were calculated by subtracting initial reasoning scores from final reasoning scores; a maximum of 24 points was possible). However, the inquiry sections significantly outperformed the didactic sections on the reasoning transfer items (n = 73, Minquiry = 2.89; n = 71, Mdidactic = 2.52; F = 6.42, p = 0.01; see Table 3; reasoning transfer items were calculated based on a six-point scale). The most significant effects were found among low reasoners. Low reasoners in homogeneous groups within the inquiry sections significantly outperformed those within the didactic sections (n = 3, Minquiry = 4.00; n = 9, Mdidactic = 1.40; F = 9.58; p < 0.01; see Figure 3). In fact, within the inquiry sections, the students in homogeneous low groups equaled the performance of students in homogeneous high groups within inquiry (n = 3, Mhomogeneous low = 4.00; n = 16, Mhomogeneous high = 3.44; p = NS). This was not the case in didactic homogeneous groups (n = 5, Mhomogeneous low = 1.40; n = 13, Mhomogeneous high = 3.08; p < 0.01).


Effects of collaborative group composition and inquiry instruction on reasoning gains and achievement in undergraduate biology.

Jensen JL, Lawson A - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Scores on reasoning transfer items organized by the initial reasoning ability of the student and the group composition in which they were placed in inquiry instruction (a) and didactic instruction (b). Scores represent the average score on six reasoning transfer items administered as part of the final exam. An asterisk (*) indicates that the difference in reasoning transfer scores among low reasoners is significant (p = 0.02). φ, Low reasoners in homogeneous groups within the inquiry condition significantly outperformed low reasoners in homogeneous groups within the didactic section (p < 0.01) and performed equally as well as high reasoners in the inquiry condition (p = NS). Overall, heterogeneous groups outperformed homogeneous groups within the didactic condition (p = 0.02).
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Figure 3: Scores on reasoning transfer items organized by the initial reasoning ability of the student and the group composition in which they were placed in inquiry instruction (a) and didactic instruction (b). Scores represent the average score on six reasoning transfer items administered as part of the final exam. An asterisk (*) indicates that the difference in reasoning transfer scores among low reasoners is significant (p = 0.02). φ, Low reasoners in homogeneous groups within the inquiry condition significantly outperformed low reasoners in homogeneous groups within the didactic section (p < 0.01) and performed equally as well as high reasoners in the inquiry condition (p = NS). Overall, heterogeneous groups outperformed homogeneous groups within the didactic condition (p = 0.02).
Mentions: Instructional Method. No significant differences were found between the inquiry and didactic sections for overall reasoning gains (n = 73, Minquiry = 1.97; n = 71, Mdidactic = 2.07; F = 0.01, p = NS; reasoning gains were calculated by subtracting initial reasoning scores from final reasoning scores; a maximum of 24 points was possible). However, the inquiry sections significantly outperformed the didactic sections on the reasoning transfer items (n = 73, Minquiry = 2.89; n = 71, Mdidactic = 2.52; F = 6.42, p = 0.01; see Table 3; reasoning transfer items were calculated based on a six-point scale). The most significant effects were found among low reasoners. Low reasoners in homogeneous groups within the inquiry sections significantly outperformed those within the didactic sections (n = 3, Minquiry = 4.00; n = 9, Mdidactic = 1.40; F = 9.58; p < 0.01; see Figure 3). In fact, within the inquiry sections, the students in homogeneous low groups equaled the performance of students in homogeneous high groups within inquiry (n = 3, Mhomogeneous low = 4.00; n = 16, Mhomogeneous high = 3.44; p = NS). This was not the case in didactic homogeneous groups (n = 5, Mhomogeneous low = 1.40; n = 13, Mhomogeneous high = 3.08; p < 0.01).

Bottom Line: Inquiry instruction, as a whole, led to significantly greater gains in reasoning ability and achievement.Low-reasoning students made significantly greater reasoning gains within inquiry instruction when grouped with other low reasoners than when grouped with either medium or high reasoners.Results are consistent with equilibration theory, supporting the idea that students benefit from the opportunity for self-regulation without the guidance or direction of a more capable peer.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA. jamie.jensen@byu.edu

ABSTRACT
This study compared the effectiveness of collaborative group composition and instructional method on reasoning gains and achievement in college biology. Based on initial student reasoning ability (i.e., low, medium, or high), students were assigned to either homogeneous or heterogeneous collaborative groups within either inquiry or didactic instruction. Achievement and reasoning gains were assessed at the end of the semester. Inquiry instruction, as a whole, led to significantly greater gains in reasoning ability and achievement. Inquiry instruction also led to greater confidence and more positive attitudes toward collaboration. Low-reasoning students made significantly greater reasoning gains within inquiry instruction when grouped with other low reasoners than when grouped with either medium or high reasoners. Results are consistent with equilibration theory, supporting the idea that students benefit from the opportunity for self-regulation without the guidance or direction of a more capable peer.

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