Problem-centered learning vs. teaching-centered learning in science at the secondary level: an analysis of the dynamics of doubt (2010)

Journal of Applied Research on Learning, Vol. 3, Article 5, 2010

This paper describes a research project undertaken to compare how doubt evolves while learning about electricity in two different learning contexts. In the problem-centred context, students learn about a subject through the experience of solving problems, while in the teaching-centred context, students listen while the teacher talks.

The project involved 13- to 15-year-old French-speaking students in Quebec schools. The authors describe performance variations observed when students in those two learning contexts began their acquisition of knowledge about basic electricity with attitudes of either certainty or uncertainty.

Every test answer was classified under one of five categories, including legitimate certainty; legitimate doubt; underestimation; overestimation; and don’t know. That classification system was used to track how students’ answers migrated from one category to another, and allowed researchers to monitor how students’ “certainty vs. doubt” profile evolved in conjunction with variations in their performance.

Results indicate that problem-centred learning approaches seem to be more profitable for students who expressed at least a little certainty about their answers, and that teacher-centred approaches seem to be more appropriate for students who expressed doubts. Results also suggest that problem-centred approaches better prevent the development of unexpected conceptions, those that are not expected from a pedagogical standpoint and that contradict the scientific content found in textbooks.

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APA citation
Patrice Potvin, Martin Riopel, Steve Masson and Frédéric Fournier. Problem-centered learning vs. teaching-centered learning in science at the secondary level: an analysis of the dynamics of doubt 2010. Web. 2 Dec. 2022 <http://en.copian.ca/library/research/jarl/problem/problem.pdf>
Patrice Potvin, Martin Riopel, Steve Masson & Frédéric Fournier (2010). Problem-centered learning vs. teaching-centered learning in science at the secondary level: an analysis of the dynamics of doubt. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from http://en.copian.ca/library/research/jarl/problem/problem.pdf
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