Research in Science Education

, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 865–885 | Cite as

The Effect of Student-Centered Approaches on Students’ Interest and Achievement in Science: Relevant Topic-Based, Open and Guided Inquiry-Based, and Discussion-Based Approaches

  • Jingoo KangEmail author
  • Tuula Keinonen


Since students have lost their interest in school science, several student-centered approaches, such as using topics that are relevant for students, inquiry-based learning, and discussion-based learning have been implemented to attract pupils into science. However, the effect of these approaches was usually measured in small-scale research, and thus, the large-scale evidence supporting student-centered approaches in general use is insufficient. Accordingly, this study aimed to investigate the effect of student-centered approaches on students’ interest and achievement by analyzing a large-scale data set derived from Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2006, to add evidence for advocating these approaches in school science, and to generalize the effects on a large population. We used Finnish PISA 2006 data, which is the most recent data that measures science literacy and that contains relevant variables for the constructs of this study. As a consequence of the factor analyses, four teaching methods were grouped as student-centered approaches (relevant topic-based, open and guided inquiry-based, and discussion-based approaches in school science) from the Finnish PISA 2006 sample. The structural equation modeling result indicated that using topics relevant for students positively affected students’ interest and achievement in science. Guided inquiry-based learning was also indicated as a strong positive predictor for students’ achievement, and its effect was also positively associated with students’ interest. On the other hand, open inquiry-based learning was indicated as a strong negative predictor for students’ achievement, as was using discussion in school science. Implications and limitations of the study were discussed.


Student-centered approaches Relevant topic Inquiry-based learning Discussion PISA 


  1. Aikenhead, G. (2006). Science education for everyday life: evidence-based practice. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ainley, M. (2007). Being and feeling interested: transient state, mood, and disposition. In P. Schutz & R. Pekrun (Eds.), Emotions in education (pp. 147–163). Burlington: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ainley, M., & Ainley, J. (2011). A cultural perspective on the structure of student interest in science. International Journal of Science Education, 33(1), 51–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Akcay, H., Yager, R. E., Iskander, S. M., & Turgut, H. (2010). Change in student beliefs about attitudes toward science in grades 6–9. Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, 11(1).Google Scholar
  5. Arnold, J. C., Kremer, K., & Mayer, J. (2014). Understanding students’ experiments—what kind of support do they need in inquiry tasks? International Journal of Science Education, 36(16), 2719–2749. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2014.930209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Avraamidou, L., & Osborne, J. (2009). The role of narrative in communicating science. International Journal of Science Education, 31, 1683–1707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beerenwinkel, A., & Börlin, J. (2014). Surface level: teaching time, lesson phases and types of interaction. In Fischer, H., Labudde, P., Neumann, K., & Viiri, J. (eds.) Quality of Instruction in Physics (pp. 65–79). Waxmann.Google Scholar
  8. Bell, R., Smetana, L., & Binns, I. (2005). Simplifying inquiry instruction. The Science Teacher, 72(7), 30–33.Google Scholar
  9. Bennett, J., Grasel, C., Parchmann, I., & Waddington, D. (2005). Context-based and conventional approaches to teaching chemistry: comparing teachers’ views. International Journal of Science Education, 27, 1521–1547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bybee, R., & McCrae, B. (2011). Scientific literacy and student attitudes: perspectives from PISA 2006 science. International Journal of Science Education, 33(1), 7–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Campbell, D. T., & Fiske, D. W. (1959). Convergent and discriminant validation by the multitrait-multimethod matrix. Psychological Bulletin, 56(2), 81–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Choi, K., & Cho, H. H. (2002). Effects of teaching ethical issues on Korean school students’ attitudes towards science. Journal of Biological Education, 37(1), 26–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dahncke, H., Behrendt, H., & Reiska, P. (2001). A comparison of STS-teaching and traditional physics lessons—on the correlation of physics knowledge and taking action. In H. Dahncke & H. Behrendt (Eds.), Research in science education—past, present and future (pp. 77–82). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  14. Dewey, J. (1913). Interest and effort in education. Boston: Houghton Miffler.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dewey, J. (1964). John Dewey on education. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  16. Drechsel, B., Carstensen, C., & Prenzel, M. (2011). The role of content and context in PISA interest scales: a study of the embedded interest items in the PISA 2006 science assessment. International Journal of Science Education, 33(1), 73–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Driver, R., Asoko, H., Leach, J., Mortimer, E., & Scott, P. (1994). Constructing scientific knowledge in the classroom. Educational Researcher, 23(7), 5–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. European Commission (2007). Science education now: a renewed pedagogy for the future of Europe. Brussels: Report by a High Level Group on Science Education.Google Scholar
  19. Evagorou, M., & Osborne, J. (2010). The role of language in the learning and teaching of science. In J. Osborne & J. Dillon (Eds.), Good practice in science teaching: what research has to say (2nd ed., pp. 135–157). New York: Open University Press/McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  20. Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18(1), 39–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Geiser, C. (2013). Data analysis with Mplus. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  22. Goodrum, D., & Rennie, L., Commonwealth of Australia. (2007). Australian school science education national action plan 2008–2012: Volume 1. Retrieved from AndResearch/publications/ Documents/Volume1final_28August2008.pdf.
  23. Hansi, A., & Potvin, P. (2015). Student’s interest in science and technology and its relationships with teaching methods, family context and self-efficacy. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 10(3), 337–366.Google Scholar
  24. Hidi, S. (1990). Interest and its contribution as a mental resource for learning. Review of Educational Research, 60(4), 549–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hidi, S., & Renninger, K. (2006). The four-phase model of interest development. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 111–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jiang, F., & McComas, W. (2015). The effects of inquiry teaching on student science achievement and attitudes: evidence from propensity score analysis of PISA data. International Journal of Science Education, 37(3), 554–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jocz, J., Zhai, J., & Tan, A. (2014). Inquiry learning in the Singaporean context: factors affecting student interest in school science. International Journal of Science Education, 36(15), 2596–2618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Juuti, K., Lavonen, J., Uitto, A., Byman, R., & Meisalo, V. (2010). Science teaching methods preferred by grade 9 students in Finland. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 8, 611–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kaplan, D. (2000). Structural equation modeling: foundations and extensions. New York: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  30. Keinonen, T., Kukkonen, J., & Juntunen, S. (2012). PROFILES Curricular Delphi Study on Science Education.
  31. Kelloway, K. (2015). Using Mplus for structural equation modeling: a researcher’s guide (2 ed.). SAGE.Google Scholar
  32. Klosterman, M., & Sadler, T. (2010). Multi-level assessment of scientific content knowledge gains associated with socioscientific issues-based instruction. International Journal of Science Education, 32(8), 1017–1043. doi: 10.1080/09500690902894512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Koksal, E., & Berberoglu, G. (2012). The effect of guided-inquiry instruction on 6th grade Turkish students’ achievement. Science Process Skills, and Attitudes Toward Science, International Journal of Science Education, 36(1), 66–78. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2012.721942.Google Scholar
  34. Krapp, A. (2002). Structural and dynamic aspects of interest development: theoretical considerations from an ontogenetic perspective. Learning and Instruction, 12, 383–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Krapp, A., & Prenzel, M. (2011). Research on interest in science: theories, methods, and findings. International Journal of Science Education, 33(1), 27–50. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2011.518645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kruckeberg, R. (2006). A Deweyan perspective on science education: constructivism, experience, and why we learn science. Science & Education, 15(1), 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lavonen, J., & Laaksonen, S. (2009). Context of teaching and learning school science in Finland: reflections on PISA 2006 results. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(8), 922–944.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lee, H., & Songer, N. (2003). Making authentic science accessible to students. International Journal of Science Education, 25(8), 923–948.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Logan, M., & Skamp, K. (2012). The impact of teachers and their science teaching on students’ ‘science interest’: a four-year study. International Journal of Science Education, 1–26 iFirst Article. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2012.667167.
  40. Martin, M. O., Mullis, I. V. S., Foy, P., & Stanco, G. M. (2012). TIMSS 2011 international results in science. Chestnut Hill: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College.Google Scholar
  41. Martin-Hansen, L. (2002). Defining inquiry: exploring the many types of inquiry in the science classroom. Science Teacher, 69(2), 34–37.Google Scholar
  42. McConney, A., Oliver, M., McConney, A., Schibeci, R., & Maor, D. (2014). Inquiry, engagement, and literacy in science: a retrospective, cross-national analysis using PISA 2006. Science Education, 98(6), 963–980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ministry of Education [MOE] (2015). 2015 National Curriculum Revision. [KOR]Google Scholar
  44. Minner, D. D., Levy, A. J., & Century, J. (2010). Inquiry-based science instruction—what is it and does it matter? Results from a research synthesis years 1984 to 2002. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47, 474–496. doi: 10.1002/tea.20347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mortimer, E. F., & Scott, P. H. (2003). Meaning making in secondary science classrooms. Philadelphia: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Muijs, D. (2011). Doing quantitative research in education with SPSS (2ed). SAGE.Google Scholar
  47. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2012). Mplus user’s guide (6th ed.). Los Angeles: Authors.Google Scholar
  48. National Research Council (1996). The National Science Education Standards. Washington: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  49. National Research Council (2000). How people learn. Washington: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  50. National Research Council (2007). In R. A. Duschl, H. A. Schweingruber, & A. W. Shouse (Eds.), Taking science to school: learning and teaching science in grades K-8. Washington: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  51. National Research Council (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Committee on a conceptual framework for new K-12 science education standards. Board on science education, division of behavioral and social sciences and education. Washington: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  52. Nieswandt, M., & Shanahan, M.-C. (2008). ‘I just want the credit!’—perceived instrumentality as the main characteristic of boys’ motivation in a grade 11 science course. Research in Science Education, 38(1), 3–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Norris, N., Asplund, R., MacDonald, B., Schostack, J., & Zamorski, B. (1996). An independent evaluation of comprehensive curriculum reform in Finland. Helsinki: National Board of Education.Google Scholar
  54. OECD (2005). Student questionnaire for PISA 2006: main study. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  55. OECD (2007). PISA 2006: Science Competencies for Tomorrow’s World, Volume 1.Google Scholar
  56. OECD (2009a). PISA Data Analysis Manual. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.Google Scholar
  57. OECD (2009b). PISA 2006 Technical Report.Google Scholar
  58. OECD (2016). PISA 2015 assessment and analytical framework: science. Reading: Mathematic and Financial Literacy.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Olsen, R., & Lie, S. (2011). Profiles of students’ interest in science issues around the world: analysis of data from PISA 2006. International Journal of Science Education, 33(1), 97–120. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2010.518638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Ottander, C., & Ekborg, M. (2012). Students’ experience of working with socioscientific issues—a quantitative study in secondary school. Research in Science Education, 42(6), 1147–1163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Piaget, J. (1969). Science of education and the psychology of the child. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar
  62. Potvin, P., & Hasni, A. (2014). Interest, motivation and attitude towards science and technology at K-12 levels: a systematic review of 12 years of educational research. Studies in Science Education, 50(1), 85–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. PRIMAS (2011). Promoting inquiry-based learning in mathematics and science education across Europe. Kiel: IPN Retrieved March 21, 2013, from Scholar
  64. Rubba, P., McGuyer, M., & Wahlund, T. (1991). The effects of infusion STS vignettes into the genetics unit of biology on learner outcomes in STS and genetics: a report of two investigations. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 28(7), 537–552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sadeh, I., & Zion, M. (2012). Which type of inquiry project do high school biology students prefer: open or guided? Research in Science Education, 42(5), 831–848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sadler, T. (2004). Informal reasoning regarding socioscientific issues: a critical review of research. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41, 513–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Schiefele, U., Krapp, A., & Winteler, A. (1992). Interest as a predictor of academic achievement: a meta-analysis of research. In K. A. Renninger, S. Hidi, & A. Krapp (Eds.), The role of interest in learning and development (pp. 183–212). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  68. Shemwell, J., & Furtak, E. (2010). Science classroom discussion as scientific argumentation: a study of conceptually rich (and poor) student talk. Educational Assessment, 15, 222–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. The Finnish National Board of Education. (2004). Perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteet 2004. [FIN]Google Scholar
  70. The Finnish National Board of Education. (2014). Perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteet 2014. [FIN]Google Scholar
  71. Vygotsky, L. (1962). Thought and language. Cambridge: The M.I.T. Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Walberg, H. (1981). A psychological theory of educational productivity. In F. H. Farley & N. Gordon (Eds.), Psychology and education (pp. 81–110). Berkley: McCutchan.Google Scholar
  73. Wang, J., & Wang, X. (2012). Structural equation modeling: applications using Mplus. New Jersey: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Wellington, J., & Osborne, J. (2001). Language and literacy in science education. Pen University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Yager, R. (1996). Science/technology/society as reform in science education. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  76. Yeung, S. (2009). Is student-centered pedagogy impossible in Hong Kong? The case of inquiry in classrooms. Asia Pacific Education Review, 10(3), 377–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, Philosophical FacultyUniversity of Eastern FinlandJoensuuFinland

Personalised recommendations