Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 9, Issue 1, Article 10 (Jun., 2008)
Ercan AKPINAR and Omer ERGIN
Fostering primary school students’ understanding of cells and other related concepts with interactive computer animation instruction accompanied by teacher and student-prepared concept maps

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Discussion and Implications

The present study used both interactive computer animation and teacher and student-prepared concept maps together to investigate the effects on primary school students’ understanding of cells and other related concepts. In addition, this study investigated students’ attitudes toward science. As a result, the students in the experimental group, taught by interactive computer animation and teacher and student-prepared concept maps, learned about the cell and other related concepts better than those taught traditionally in the control group. Regarding students’ attitudes toward science as a school subject, there was no significant difference between the experimental and control groups in the pre and post-test results. However, there was a statistically significant difference between the gain scores of the control group and the experimental group in favor of the experimental group. When the gain scores of the experimental group and the control group were taken into consideration, it was concluded that students in the experimental group had more positive attitudes toward science than those in the control group at the end of the instruction.

The findings in the present study are consistent with those in the literature. Williamson and Abraham (1995) explored the effect of computer animation depicting the particulate nature of matter on college students’ mental models of the chemical phenomena, and found that it demonstrated a more positive effect on students’ conceptual understanding than traditional instruction. In another study, entitled “A Hypermedia Environment to Explore and Negotiate Student’s Conceptions: Animation of Solution Process of Table Salt” carried out with 11th grade students, Ebenezer (2001) reported that animation can be used to explore, negotiate, and assess students’ conceptions of the submicroscopic aspects of solution chemistry.

Ardaç and Akaygun (2004) reported in their study that the experimental group instructed by multimedia (including animation) got higher scores both in an achievement test and in molecular presentation than compared to the control group. Chuang (1999) (cited in Gülbahar, 2002) indicated that when voice, written text and animation are employed together, students learn better. Ustuner and Sancar (1999) found that using enriched voice, graphics, and animation, during instruction impacted the students’ affective behaviors and helped their cognitive levels.

The present study indicates that computer animation and concept maps positively help students’ achievement. For further studies, this method should be compared with other instructional methods by adding new instructional materials such as web-based cognitive tools, analogies, etc. Similar research studies can be conducted for different science topics at the primary school level. The number of participants may be increased for further studies, and the instruction may be carried out with four different groups at the same level. One group may be taught with interactive computer animation, another group with concept mapping, the third with interactive computer animation accompanied by concept mapping, and the last group traditionally. In this way, the effective method, in terms of students’ achievement and attitudes, can be identified. Students’ misconceptions regarding the cell topic before and after instruction can be examined. In order to develop more positive attitudes, these techniques may need to be used for a considerable length of time. Students’ attitudes toward concept mapping and the use of the computer can be investigated. Various data collection instruments such as interviews and open-ended questions can be used together with the achievement tests and attitude scales. Similar research studies can be constructed to test the effectiveness of interactive computer animation accompanied by concept mapping in fostering students’ understanding of the cell. Teaching abstract concepts the number of computer-based animations should be increased.

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