Will a Black Hole Eventually Swallow Earth?” Fifth Graders' Interest in Questions from a Textbook, an Open Educational Resource and Other Students' Questions

Hani Swirski, Ayelet Baram-Tsabari
Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning  •  Volume 11  •  2015  •  pp. 313-327
Can questions sent to Open-Educational-Resource (OER) websites such as Ask-An-Expert serve as indicators for students’ interest in science? This issue was examined using an online questionnaire which included an equal number of questions about the topics “space” and “nutrition” randomly selected from three different sources: a 5th-grade science textbook, the “Ask-An-Expert” website, and questions collected from other students in the same age group. A sample of 113 5th-graders from two elementary schools were asked to rate their interest level in finding out the answer to these questions without knowledge of their source. Significant differences in students’ interest level were found between questions: textbook questions were ranked lowest for both subjects, and questions from the open-resource were ranked high. This finding suggests that questions sent to an open-resource could be used as an indicator of students’ interest in science. In addition, the high correlation of interests expressed by students from the two schools may point to a potential generalization of the findings. This study contributes by highlighting OER as a new and promising indicator of student interest, which may help bring “student voices” into mainstream science teaching to increase student interest in science.
Ask-A-Scientist, elementary school, Interest, Open Educational Resource, Science curriculum, Students’ questions, Student voice
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