, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 42-48

Learning Science in Grades 3–8 Using Probeware and Computers: Findings from the TEEMSS II Project

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Abstract

The Technology Enhanced Elementary and Middle School Science II project (TEEMSS), funded by the National Science Foundation, produced 15 inquiry-based instructional science units for teaching in grades 3–8. Each unit uses computers and probeware to support students’ investigations of real-world phenomena using probes (e.g., for temperature or pressure) or, in one case, virtual environments based on mathematical models. TEEMSS units were used in more than 100 classrooms by over 60 teachers and thousands of students. This paper reports on cases in which groups of teachers taught science topics without TEEMSS materials in school year 2004–2005 and then the same teachers taught those topics using TEEMSS materials in 2005–2006. There are eight TEEMSS units for which such comparison data are available. Students showed significant learning gains for all eight. In four cases (sound and electricity, both for grades 3–4; temperature, grades 5–6; and motion, grades 7–8) there were significant differences in science learning favoring the students who used the TEEMSS materials. The effect sizes are 0.58, 0.94, 1.54, and 0.49, respectively. For the other four units there were no significant differences in science learning between TEEMSS and non-TEEMSS students. We discuss the implications of these results for science education.