Comparing the Efficacy of Reform-Based and Traditional/Verification Curricula to Support Student Learning about Space Science
This research explores the relationship between reform-based curriculum and the development of students’ knowledge of and attitudes toward space science.
Using a randomized cluster design, the effectiveness of Great Exploration in Math and Science (GEMS) Space Science Curriculum Sequence was compared with the effectiveness of more traditional curriculum in supporting 4th and 5th grade students’ learning of and attitudes toward space science. GEMS employed an inductive approach to content (learning cycle), explicit use of evidence, and attention to scientific inquiry. The comparison group experienced traditional, verification means of teaching. Randomization occurred at the level of the teacher assignment to treatment group (not at the student level). Students in the classrooms in which GEMS was employed demonstrated a statistically significant increase in content knowledge and attitudes toward space science: Students in classrooms in which the traditional curriculum was employed did not show these increases. The GEMS effect on student achievement was greater for students in classrooms in which the teacher experienced a greater increase in content knowledge.