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Relative influence of cognitive and motivational variables on genetic concepts in traditional and learning cycle classroms

Atay (Doğru), Pınar
The purpose of the study is to explore relationships among elementary school students’ gender, relevant prior knowledge, meaningful learning orientation, reasoning ability, self-efficacy, locus of control, attitudes toward science and achievement in genetics in learning cycle and traditional classrooms. The study was conducted on 213 8th grade students from eight classes of two public elementary schools in Ankara in 2005-2006 Spring-semester. Students in the experimental group (N=104) received learning cycle instruction that helps students acquire conceptual understanding of scientific concepts, and the students in the control group (N=109) received traditional instruction. The students were given Genetics Achievement Test as a pre-test before and as a post-test after the instruction. Students were also given Learning Approach Questionnaire that measures students’ learning orientations and Test of Logical Thinking that determines students’ reasoning abilities. Students’ levels of self-efficacy, locus of control and their attitudes toward science also were measured. One-way ANOVA analysis revealed that learning cycle instruction improved students’ achievement in genetics compared to traditional instruction. Stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed that in learning cycle classrooms, the main predictors of achievement in genetics were students’ meaningful learning orientation (49.6%) and their attitudes toward science (11.8%). In traditional classrooms, students’ attitudes toward science (44%) and reasoning ability (9.8%) were the main predictors of achievement while remaining 5.7% of the variance explained by relevant prior knowledge, locus of control and meaningful learning orientation. This study revealed that different variables may be important for 8th grade students’ genetics achievement in learning cycle and traditional classes.