The effect of an earth-science learning program on students' scientific thinking skills

Nir Orion, Yael Kali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explored junior high school students' understanding of essential concepts of scientific thinking "observation", "hypothesis" and "conclusion" and the effect of the learning of the program "The Rock Cycle" on the development of such understanding. The study sample consisted of 582 students of the 7th and 8th grade, who learned in 21 classes, with 14 teachers from 8 schools in Israel. The data collection was based on a quantitative research tool that was specifically developed for this study and qualitative tools such as observations and interviews. The findings indicated that the students have considerable difficulties in understanding the basic concepts underlying the scientific inquiry, and that the "The Rock Cycle" has a potential to develop such understanding. An unexpected gender difference was found. Girls outperformed boys in scientific thinking, both in the pre and the post tests. The unique character of geoscience methodology, together with structured-inquiry and metacognitive activities, served as an appropriate framework for students to develop basic scientific thinking. The co-interpretation of quantitative and qualitative analysis indicated that the type of teacher (openness to innovative methods, enthusiasm and scientific background) was a crucial factor in students' ability to exploit the potential of "The Rock Cycle".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-393
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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