Hasret Nuhoglu & Education World

Sunday, November 20, 2005

learning cycle

The learning cyce is a well established inductive approach to teaching science (Abraham, Renner&Birnie, 1998; Karplus&Their, 1967; Lawson, Abraham&Renner, 1989). Atkins&Karplus formulated the learning cycle during the development of the Science Curriculum Improvement Study (SCIS) in the early 1960’s (Cavallo&Laubach, 2001).

The learning cycle was originally developed to apply Piaget’s theory of intellectual development to science instruction. Piaget’theory explains that learning or “mental functioning” begins with assimilation, then accommodation and finally organization. Assimilation is a process that involves incorporating new information into an already existing cognitive structure. Accomodation involves the formation of a new cognitive structure that can incorpaorate the new information. Organization involves restructuring the existing and new mental structures into a coherent whole (Piaget, 1970). Although originally based on Piagetian theory, the learning cycle as constructed today, embodies other constructivist paradigms of learning and development.

At the heart of constructivist paradigms is the idea that students bring to the classroom mental constructs that affect new learning. For conceptual change to occur, students need to discover that their present mental construct is inappropriate to explain the phenomena. The students are then involved in activities and discussions which allow the students to reconstruct their mental construct. As the students merges old knowledge with the new information a new mental construct is developed regarding the phenomena (Fosnot, 1996).

There are lots of researches in the literature about learning cycle based on constructivism (Nasseri (1985), Stencel (1987), Renner, Abraham ve Birnie (1988), Shadburn (1989), Cumo (1991), Rischbieter (1992), Klindienst (1993), Allard ve Barman (1994), Ayas (1995), Vince (1998), Musheno ve Lawson (1999), Settlage (2000), Lawson (2001), Benford (2001), Scolavino, (2002), Nuhoğlu (2004)). These researches show that learning cycle contributes to triump, explore and evaluate the ability of scientific reasoning, for children.

Through the years the name of the three phases of the learning cycle have changed but the activities that occur in each phase have remained relatively constant.


The first phase of the learning cycle is the exploration phase. This phase has also been known as the data-gathering phase and the exploring concept phase. This phase serves to stimulate curiosity, establish a need to know, raise questions, cause cognitive dissonance, or otherwise set the phase for more formal treatment of the concept, principle or relationship that is the focus of instruction (Abraham & Renner, 1986).
The teacher leads to exploration;
· He can engage in topic by giving some interesting examples from student’s daily life.
· He encorages to students for an investigation in order to gathering data, exploring and observing phenomena.
· He leads to students for use the scientific processes of observing, measuring, experimenting, interpreting and predicting as they gather data.
· While he is providing materials, giving directions and asking questions, he can focus on learner centered.
· He can act as a facilitator for encouraging student discovery.
· He may identify student preconceptions and misconceptions about the topic.
The second phase of the learning cycle is called the concept introduction phase. This phase has also been titled conceptual invention, term introduction, invention, and naming concepts. In this phase, the students share and discuss the data they have collected during the exploration phase. The sharing and discussion of student data is a crucial part of the theoretical basis of the learning cycle (Marek, Eubanks&Gallaher, 1990).
The teacher leads to concept introduction;
· The teacher can guide the class discussion by asking key questions. These questions may aid the students in the development of the concepts.
· He may have the students make discussion. It leads them to invent the concept being taught.
· He may support the students in order to formulate a statement of the concept with their own words.
· He may encourage them to engage in the science process skills such as analyzing, synthesizing, classifying, comparing and evaluating.
· Due to the fact that, the students begin to accommodate the new concept, he should be careful as giving new concepts.
· Students share gathering information with friends after investigation about topic. He can orient to make a summary and generalization as the way of their understanding with own words. For example for the insulation investigation, students might generalize that thicker insulation is better at keeping things cool, or that denser materials make better insulators (Saunders&Stringham, 1998).
· Along this phase, the models and theories are introduced for students.
· He might use text books, visual-auditory materials and technological materials while the lesson is performing. For example the teacher may want them to find or interpret the similarities and differanties between plant and animal cells. In addition, he wants to their investigation report. Then the teacher use these information in order to explain basic differanties for cells.
The third phase is the concept application phase. This phase has also been called discovery, expanding concepts and expansion. In concept application, the teacher facilitates the use of the concept in different contexts. These applications help extend and expand students’ understandings and apply the concept to everyday experiences. Different concept activities may include, but are not limited to, additional laboratory investigations, selected readings, relevant problems, computer applications, field trips, audiovisuals and demonstrations. The purpose of the application activities is to provide students with experiences that help them organize the concept (Marek & Cavallo, 1997).
The application phase is an opportunity for students to apply the new concept to additional situations as well as develop new questions for furter investigation (Beisenherz & Dantonio, 1986)
The teacher leads to concept application;
· The teacher may ask questions that assess the extent the students have organized the newly developed concept into their mental construct.
· The questions can open-ended in order to allow the students for justifying, predicting and verifying their ideas about the new situations.
· New applicatons may be introduced in class discussions, video presentations, furter laboratory and field investigations, library research and other formats. For example biology lab could be a class discussion about other examples of livings. Students could classify animals and plants by their special features in their houses or enviroments. And they can discuss the animals or plants they live in different types of weather. This discussions help students connect what they do in lab to their everyday experience and thus makes the science content relevant to their everday lives.
· The teacher support students to transfer information from a topic to another.
Evaluation and Discussion
Evaluation and discussion are used between every phases of learning cycle. These concepts participate in the middle of the cycle. They help to interact between teacher and students. Teacher can use them like an assessment in order to evaluate students’ success. The students can use to evalute their understanding of topic.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Education World


I study about science education. My master dissertation is about Learning Cycle model. I want to give some information about my dissertation. perhaps, somebody interested in.

The goal of my study was to compare “Learning Cycle Model” with the “Traditional” Teaching Method. What is the effect of these methods on the attitude of the teacher candidates towards the physics laboratory? Which method is more successful?

The Learning Cycle Model and the Traditional Teaching Method is applied in the laboratory courses of “electricity and magnetism” topics in the first year basic physics course of the university. To compare the both models, a group of 34 was selected as control group. The control group was taught with the traditional teaching method. The experimentation group had 35 members. Their laboratory courses were done according to the learning cycle model.

The study was done in 2003-2004 semester with the first year students of the Gazi University Kirsehir Education Faculty Primary School Education Department Science Education Program.
In order to assess the subproblems of the study, three assessment tools are used: First tool was physics laboratory attitude scale. The tool was used in order to test whether the attitude of the candidate teachers is related to the teaching method. The second tool was the scientific success test (SST) that included electricity and magnetism subjects. The tool was used to compare the success degrees of the candidate teachers in the control and experiment groups. The third tool wass a questionaire on the evaluation of the effectiveness of the teaching method. It was used to learn the subjective ideas of the candidate teachers about the applied teaching method. The data obtained through these evaluation tools were analyzed by using SPSS. The statistical models used to analyze the data were descriptive statistics, dependent and independent t-tests and Pearson correlation analysis.

The statistical analysis showed that the attitude towards the physics laboratory of the candidate teachers has not a meaningful difference between control and experiment groups with regard to the teaching method. But the scientific success test showed a difference between the teaching methods. Before beginning the semester, the control group had a higher success rate than the experiment group. At the end of the semester, the experiment group had a higher success rate. Moreover there was a positive, medium level of relation between the success rate and attitude towards the physics laboratory in the experiment group. But the relation in the control group is in a much lower degree. Apart of the quantitative analysis, the qualitative analysis that was done at the end of the teaching semester supports these facts.

Thus the results of this study shows that learning cycle model is an education approach that helps to resolve the main problems in teaching the scientific knowledge. It facilitates the students to effectively learn and organize the knowledge in a meaningful way. It achieves to make the knowledge long lasting. The students become more capable to apply the knowledge in other areas outside the original context.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Eco School

Last year in the PhD programme, we had a project plan on environment school. We called it as eco school. We made some brainstorming sessions. We had very exciting ideas on setting such a school. I want to improve these ideas further, when I will be available...

Socrates Programme

Hi, this is my first blog entry.

Today I filled my application for a in-service training supported by Socrates Programme. It happens in Ennis, located in west of Ireland. I don't know how to get there. I hope it will not be so difficult.

I wish to go there with my husband, Mert.