Friday, November 30, 2018

Is creativity, hands-on modeling and cognitive learning gender-dependent?

Is creativity, hands-on modeling and cognitive learning gender-dependent? Julia Mierdel, Franz X. Bogner. Thinking Skills and Creativity, Volume 31, March 2019, Pages 91-102.

•    Combining hands-on modeling with experimentation is successful.
•    The model quality is not influenced by students’ individual creativity levels.
•    Girls produced significantly better structured DNA-models.
•    ‘Flow’ experiences and model quality are related with girls’ cognitive achievement.

Abstract: Modeling plays a key role in science research and education is considered to increase comprehensibility of abstract concepts and processes. Especially hands-on experiences in authentic learning environments offer students the opportunity to feel like real researchers and support the development of problem-based thinking skills. In our study, we applied an inquiry-based, out-of-school laboratory module that uses classic experimental challenges as well as innovative model-supported teaching to promote cognitive achievement. Our hands-on module was designed for 9th graders and combined experimentation and creative model work to visualize molecular and otherwise invisible contents of DNA-structure. After mental modeling, participants (N = 114; 40.87% female) produced a physical DNA-model using handcrafting materials. Our major aims were to evaluate the model qualities and to monitor potential relationships between successful model elaboration, individual creativity and knowledge levels. Therefore, we correlated students’ creativity levels with model quality scores as well as with cognitive achievement. While no relations were found for creativity and model elaboration further results were gender-dependent. Girls produced significantly higher model quality scores and significant positive correlations were revealed between short-term and mid-term knowledge levels. Correlations also were observed between girls’ cognitive achievement and the creativity subscale ‘flow’. In contrast, neither creativity nor model quality were decisive for boys cognitive achievement. Their average simpler modeling results did not correlate with the short-term and mid-term knowledge levels, although they achieved similar scores on both. Model elaboration seemingly provides more support for girls and offers a suitable approach for emphasizing creativity in science education. In attempting to attract girls to scientific ideas, creative modeling may further support hands-on experimentation.

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