Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Schoolchildren can also learn complex subject matters on their own, researchers find

Date:
August 14, 2011
Source:
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Summary:
Self-directed learning has long been heralded as the key to successful education. Yet until now, there has been little research into this theory. Educational researchers in Germany have now shown that schoolchildren can independently develop strategies for solving complex mathematical tasks, with weaker students proving just as capable as their stronger classmates.

Self-directed learning has long been heralded as the key to successful education. Yet until now, there has been little research into this theory. Educational researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now shown that schoolchildren can independently develop strategies for solving complex mathematical tasks, with weaker students proving just as capable as their stronger class mates.

Related Articles


Calculating the surface area of Gran Canaria is no easy task for a 14-year-old. It's not simply a question of learning the right formula. Students have to develop a strategy that enables them to put mathematical theory into practice -- working out the information that is important and applying the right geometric models and tools. Realizing that the island has an almost circular shape and so its surface area can be approximated using the area of a circle is not as straightforward as it sounds. Are schoolchildren capable of developing these kinds of solutions themselves or should teachers explain the strategies before asking the pupils to tackle the problems?

To find the answer, researchers in mathematics education from TUM worked with approximately 1600 8th grade high-school (Gymnasium) students in various German states. Following an introduction on the general topic by their teachers, the school children were given a workbook of geometric tasks that they had to solve on paper and using a computer over four school periods. Calculating the surface area of Gran Canaria was just one of the real-world, free-form assignments the students had to tackle. The workbook material included explanations and examples of various problem-solving approaches. The teachers took a back seat during the session but were on hand to answer questions from the children, who worked in pairs.

After testing the students' skills before and after the session, the TUM researchers recorded a significant improvement in their capabilities. "They learnt to apply mathematics more effectively," explains study leader Professor Kristina Reiss. The students were also able to call on these skills in a further test three months later.

The researchers also wanted to find out what degree of child direction is most effective. One group therefore worked on the tasks in a fixed ascending order of difficulty. The other group was free to choose from the assignments provided. This greater degree of freedom did not enhance the learning experience, however. Another discovery came as an even bigger surprise to the researchers: "We expected students who were weaker at math to benefit more from a greater degree of guidance through the module," reports Reiss. "But we didn't see a significant difference between these and stronger students." There were also no differences between boys and girls. "We now know that students -- also those who are weaker in math -- have the skills to master even very complex subject matters at their own pace," continues Reiss. "Although extended phases of self-directed learning are often advocated, they are still not part of the everyday school curriculum. But they are an important option for teachers as varied lesson formats ensure a lively and interesting learning experience."

The trial was financed by Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research and was supported by psychologists from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitδt Mόnchen (Prof. Reinhard Pekrun).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Technische Universitaet Muenchen. "Schoolchildren can also learn complex subject matters on their own, researchers find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110808104521.htm>.
Technische Universitaet Muenchen. (2011, August 14). Schoolchildren can also learn complex subject matters on their own, researchers find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110808104521.htm
Technische Universitaet Muenchen. "Schoolchildren can also learn complex subject matters on their own, researchers find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110808104521.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins