A comparison of methodologies: self-discovery versus discovery-colloquium in the facilitation of science process achievement

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of two methodologies; self-discovery and discovery-colloquium, on the science process achievement mean scores of a sample of third grade students. Further, the study attempted to derive from Piaget's theories a number of general principles to use as a framework in formulating the teaching methodologies labeled self-discovery and discovery- colloquium. The general hypothesis for the study was that there would be no significant difference in science process achievement between children who experienced the discovery-colloquium instruction and self-discovery instruction. A Pretest-Posttest Two Group Design was employed. Following the pretests, Group I and Group II experienced process--centered instruction in science through the use of materials that children could manipulate and problems they could investigate. In addition, Group I pooled observations in a colloquium following the exploration activity. Both groups received ninety minutes of instruction four times a week for a period of fourteen weeks. The posttests were given at the conclusion of the treatment period. The t test for correlated data was applied to pre-post test data for each group on two levels of the Science Subtest of the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills Form S and combined test score data. Significant t ratios were attained at the 0.01 level in all cases. The t test for uncorrelated data was applied to pre-posttest comparison of the two groups on two levels of the Science Subtest of the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills Form S as well as the combined test scores. The findings indicated no significant differences. Within the parameters of this study, it may be concluded that process learning can take place in both the self-discovery and discovery-colloquium methods if meaningful concrete experiences in which the child can explore in his own way are provided; and if opportunities are given for listening to him tell of his own experiences, in his own language, clarified through interchange with his peers. However, this study did not detect significant differences in the relative effectiveness of the two methods of process instruction. The inclusion of a colloquium to encourage further social interaction in the classroom did not produce any measurable improvement in process instruction.