USING SCIENCE CAMPS TO DEVELOP UNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY—TAIWANESE STUDENTS IN A U.S. SUMMER SCIENCE CAMP
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Recent years have witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of middle and high school students from Asian countries participating in U.S.-based summer experiences (Perlez & Gao, 2013). Although summer science camps have been shown to improve students’ attitudes and interests related to science and science learning (Bhattacharyya, Mead & Nathaniel, School Science and Mathematics 111:345–353, 2011; Fields, International Journal of Science Education 31:151–171, 2009; Gibson & Chase, Science Education 86:693–705, 2002; Luehmann, International Journal of Science Education 31:1831–1855, 2009), whether there are cognitive gains for visiting students in these short-term experiences is not well understood (Liu & Lederman, School Science and Mathematics 102:114–123, 2002; Williams, Ma, Prejean, Ford & Lai, Journal of Research on Technology in Education 40:201–216, 2007). This study explored the efficacy of a U.S. summer science camp to engender improved understandings about scientific inquiry (SI) among a group of gifted Taiwanese students (n = 19) in grades 8 and 9. Participants were completing an 80-h summer science camp at a Midwestern U.S. university. The Views About Scientific Inquiry (VASI) questionnaire (Lederman, Lederman, Bartos, Bartels, Antink Meyer & Schwartz, Journal of Research in Science Teaching 51:65–83, 2014) was used to capture students’ views before and after camp participation, with modest gains evident for five of the eight aspects of scientific inquiry assessed. These gains were related to scientific investigations beginning with a question, the multiple methods of science, the role of the question in guiding procedures, the distinction between data and evidence, and the combination of data and what is already known in the development of explanations. Implications for the structure of science camps for supporting the development of SI understandings among students from Asian classrooms, and in general, are discussed.
Key wordsmiddle grades science scientific inquiry nature of science science camps science learning views about scientific inquiry
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