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Guiding Research Question Formulation in a Web-Based Lab

van Prooijen, Kim (2019) Guiding Research Question Formulation in a Web-Based Lab. Master's Thesis / Essay, Human-Machine Communication.


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Inquiry-based learning can help develop scientific understanding in children. Naturalis, the biodiversity centre in Leiden, wants to utilise inquiry-based learning to encourage children to conduct their own research projects using the data collection of Naturalis, made digitally available through a web-based nature lab. However inquiry-based learning can increase cognitive load to such an extent that learning is impaired. Guidance can reduce the cognitive load to a manageable level. This thesis examined the effect of digital guidance on the process of formulating a research question. The data set used was on bees. First preliminary research was conducted to investigate the quality of the research questions children formulate. Then three paper prototypes, the Knowledge-Curiosity tool, the Agent tool and the Word-block tool, were developed and tested. Based on the results of the paper prototype testing, the knowledge-curiosity tool and the agent tool were further developed as digital prototypes. These two digital prototypes were tested with 40 first-year VWO high school students. The results showed that there was a slight increase in the quality of the written research questions if the students received guidance from either tool. There was no significant difference between the quality of the research questions written with the agent tool and the knowledge-curiosity tool. However the questionnaire results showed that the students did not feel like the guidance tools helped them write better research questions. We conclude that digital guidance can help children write research questions of a better quality, but that metacognitive activities should be supported to ensure the user is aware of the learning process. This thesis provides us with insights that can help improve (digital) guidance in inquiry-based learning as well as calling our attention to important considerations that need to be made when designing digital guidance tools.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Supervisor name: Cnossen, F.
Degree programme: Human-Machine Communication
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2019
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2019 09:02

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