Teaching Science Through Literature
"The hypothesis of this study was that a multidisciplinary, activity rich science curriculum based around science fiction literature, rather than a conventional text book would increase student engagement with the curriculum and improve student performance on standards-based test instruments. Science fiction literature was chosen upon the basis of previous educational research which indicated that science fiction literature was able to stimulate and maintain interest in science.
The study was conducted on a middle school campus during the regular summer school session. Students were self-selected from the school’s 6th, 7th, and 8th grade populations. The students used the science fiction novel Maurice on the Moon as their onlytext. Lessonsandactivitiescloselyfollowedtheadventuresofthecharactersinthe book. The student’s initial level of knowledge in Earth and space science was assessed by a pre test. After the four week program was concluded, the students took a post test made up of an identical set of questions. The test included 40 standards-based questions that were based upon concepts covered in the text o f the novel and in the classroom lessons and activities. The test also included 10 general knowledge questions that were based upon Earth and space science standards that were not covered in the novel or the classroom lessons or activities.
Student performance on the standards-based question set increased an average of 35% for all students in the study group. Every subgroup disaggregated by gender and ethnicity improved from 28-47%. There was no statistically significant change in the performance on the general knowledge question set for any subgroup.
Student engagement with the material was assessed by three independent methods, including student self-reports, percentage of classroom work completed, and academic evaluation of student work by the instructor. These assessments of student engagement were correlated with changes in student performance on the standards-based assessment tests. A moderate correlation was found to exist between the level of student engagement with the material and improvement in performance from pre to post test.
Type of Publication
Claremont Graduate University
Nation(s) of Study
United States of America