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Chapter One

Background

The effectiveness of collaborative and inquiry-based learnin in STEM has been the subject of substantial academic debate, largely because there has been an unprecedented decrease in the interenst of students towards STEM subjects. Roschelle and Teasley (1995, p. 70) define the two forms of learning with collaborative learning being “accomplished by the division of labor among participants, as an activity where each person is responsible for a portion of the problem-solving,” and on the other hand inquiry-based group learning being the result of “learning that begins with a problem or a question and requires mutual engagement of participants in a coordinated effort to solve the problem together.” Thus, inquiry-based learning differs from collaborative learning in that the latter is both more structured as well as more instructional to the teachers directing the course of learning (Oxford, 1997). Even though both forms of learning incorporate group-learning approaches which require students to work as a collective unit to accomplish teaching objective (Davidson and Major, 2014), there are key differences between the two in terms of efficacy and other factors. Therefore, the debate in this academic field is to determine which method of learning is more beneficial and under what conditions. The objective of this research is to analyze the effectiveness of those approaches while teaching STEM subjects and examine how these two teaching methods impact the students’ attitude towards STEM subjects.

Collaborative learning and inquiry-based learning

Collaborative learning can be defined as a learning environment in which students make contributions to solve problems together (Teasley and Roschelle 1993). Following social constructivism concepts, learners construct knowledge through interacting with others (Atwater 1996). Collaborative learning is usually embedded in other student-centered learning models such as inquiry-based learning and problem-based learning. Contemporary literature on collaborative learning shows the extensive involvement of technology in collaborative learning (Resta and Laferriere 2007). Collaborative learning has potential benefits for cognitive and metacognitive achievement, while its effectiveness depends on factors such as group members’ prior knowledge, the composition of the group and the quality of explanations (Janssen et al 2010). Without enough prior knowledge, learners may fail to provide high-quality explanations or construct a deep understanding of the perspectives provided by other group members. A group composition without above-average students may generate insufficient joint attention to the group task and a low quality of collaboration (Webb et al 1998). High-quality and elaborative explanations (i.e. explaining “why” questions) in group discussion predicts high group performance (Barron 2003). Metacognitive activities such as planning and monitoring the task progress and evaluating group plans, can also improve group performance, (Janssen et al 2007). Collaborative learning among different age groups and cultural groups may require different levels of scaffolding and different ways of operation. When assessing group collaboration, in addition to measuring individual academic performance, the teacher needs to observe how group members respond to each other and whether joint attention to the task can be maintained (Barron 2003). Unfortunately, according to Joe Exline (2016), our traditional educational system has worked in a way that discourages the natural process of inquiry. Students become less prone to ask questions as they move through the grade levels. In traditional schools, students learn not to ask too many questions, instead to listen and repeat the expected answers.

Inquiry-based learning

van Santen (2012) defined inquiry-based learning as  a learning approach, which in a certain way and within certain limits, tries to reproduce the scientific method and the scientific work, including the social aspect of it. Morevoer, the author proposes that this method refers to a teaching approach founded on constructivist learning theories, where students’ exchanges and group questioning are the main features characterizing it. Meanwhile, Alberta Learning (2004) states that inquiry-based learning is related to the inquiry model, with all the phases it has: reflecting on the process, planning, retrieving, processing, creating, sharing, and evaluating. Likewise, Alberta Learning points out that there are a variety of inquiry models and those terms and processes may differ; however, basic concepts remain the same (2004).

Main features of Inquiry Instruction

Inquiry-based learning needs to be well structured and scaffold, and inquiry cycles can be effectively applied in various educational settings. The term inquiry has figured prominently in science education (Rizzo and Taylor, 2016; Davidson et al., 2014; Dong and Guo, 2013; Friesen, 2013; Bodzin et al. 2007 and Bruce, 2002), yet it refers to at least three distinct categories of activities —what scientists do (e.g., conducting investigations using scientific methods), how students learn (e.g., actively inquiring through thinking and doing into a phenomenon or problem, often mirroring the processes used by scientists), and a pedagogical approach that teachers employ (e.g., designing or using curricula that allow for extended investigations). However, these activities are related precisely by the term inquiry. Thus, inquiry can be seen as the attitude relaying the scientific work with the classroom activities done by the students. During the experiment, the student is placed in the shoes of the scientist and, in a certain way, ‘relives’ or recreates the scientistic experiences. To have an inquiry question that focuses on the curriculum (central idea), it’s to be able to ask really good questions that can provoke inquiry and that can also lead the unit/lesson in the proper direction. Here proper direction means not being off from the unit, central idea.

Hence, inquiry becomes the key point of science teaching. In this sense, the strategies seek to emulate the scientist work and the instructional materials are conceived to direct the tasks of the student towards the discovery and acquisition of basic scientific concepts. However, whether it is the scientist, student, or teacher who is doing or supporting inquiry, the act itself has core components. Contemporary educational researchers promote a myriad of conceptual models and approaches falling under the banner of inquiry-based learning and genuine knowledge creation. Although these approaches possess similarities, they rely on differing definitions of and pedagogical orientations to engaging students in this kind of work. Some of the inquiry-based methodological approach contains Problem-based Sessions (Davidson and Major, 2014); Minute Paper for a Background Knowledge Probe (Shih et al., 2010); Audio-Visual Presentations (Frieser, 2013); Demonstrations (Bodzin et al. 2007; Davidson and Major, 2014); Collaborative Learning Sessions (Jenkins et al., 2003); Brainstorming (Gokhale, 1995); Group Discussions (Frieser, 2013); Presentation of the material connected to real-world experiences or students’ educational goals (Rosenbaum et al., (2007); Problem-Solving Activities (Davidson and Major, 2014; Hakverdi-Can and Sonmez, 2012); Buzz Sessions (Frieser, 2013); Role-Playing (Frieser, 2013); Reflective Inquiry (Alberta Learning, 2004; Gokhale, 1995) and Small Group works (Friesen, 2013).

Inquiry based learning is also said to be highly effective in science education as it has many of the benefits already discussed in the case of collaborative learning. More exactly, inquiry based learning helps increase students’ motivation (Harada & Yoshina, 2004), improves information retention (Bruner, 1961), fosters a deeper understanding of the subject matter (Youthlearn, ccc), improves students’ ability to learn and transforms them into life-long learners (Bruner, 1961), improves students’ engagement and self-direction (Harada & Yoshina, 2004), and improves critical thinking skills (Bruner, 1961).

The research for the innovative approaches has been concentrated to such a level that the researchers have used other themes to research rather than the basic approach, largely because of the multidimensional aspect of the attitude and other measurement of the outcomes which can generate biases.

Implementing CL and IBL in classrooms

Guidelines for implementing collaborative learning in the classroom can be found in Barkely et al. (2005) and Davis (2009), whereas guidelines for implementing IBL in the classroom can be found in Alberta Learning (2004) and van Santen (2012). Moreover, according to Lai (2011), these methods are still considered two of the most innovative teaching strategies, especially for teaching science and there is growing interest among education scholars in regards to various aspects pertaining to the effectiveness of these two teaching methods (Lai, 2011), in particular in relation to the application of technological solutions in the classroom (Mallon & Bernsten, 2015; Friesen, 2013). I chose the methods most commonly used in research studying the impact of teaching methods on learning outcomes and students’ attitudes. My expectations are to establish, within the same classroom environment, which of the teaching methods provides the best results in terms of cognitive learning and skills acquisition by students. Moreover, we would like to determine which are the learning differences and skills gain between both teaching methods.

Chapter Two

Literature Review

Main domains of learning

There are three main domains of learning. These domains are cognitive (thinking), affective emotional) and psychomotor (physical). These domains were first described between 1956-1972 by different authors (Bloom et al., 1956; Bloom, et al.,1956; Dave,1967/70; Simpson 1966/72; and Harrow, 1972). These domains were further divided into sub-categories and overall structure was named as Bloom’s taxonomy. One characteristic of this taxonomy is that it starts from simple category and moves towards more complex categories. The reason for this is to first master the simple categories before moving to more complex ones, thus, giving learners a chance to develop its abilities. The idea behind these domains were to help educators build frameworks for instructional objectives, curriculum design, and assessments of achievements. During the development of these domains, many gaps were left, which encourages other people to further work on them, resulting in a different revision of these categories. While major revision was done in 2000-01(Anderson, et al., 2001). Dettmer (2005) also argued that the scope of this decade’s old taxonomy is now too limited. That these domains were enhanced to add new categories (e.g. cognitive domain is extended by the inclusion of ideational functions of imagination and creativity). Affective domain is enhanced by the inclusion of internalization, wonder and risk taking. While the psychomotor domain is expanded into the sensorimotor domain, which incorporates five senses along with balance, spatial relationships, movement and other physical activity. He also reviewed about the fourth domain known as a social domain which accentuates sociocultural process of thinking, feeling and sensing. To give all the domains a holistic approach and to optimize potential and self-fulfillment of learners, he suggested a fifth domain called unified domain which includes unifying phases of all four domains and can be categorized into feeling, sensing, moving interaction.

Among the above-mentioned domains, some authors support the fact findings that affective learning outcomes i.e. attitude, described by motivation and interest, are important factors that set the depth and quality of learning, persistence, and study choice of students (Hidi & Renninger, 2006; Maltese & Tai, 2011). Although some authors suggested that student aspiration for STEM come from the complex interaction of person, environment, and behavior also known as social cognitive career theory (Lent &Brown,1994). Maltese and Tai (2011), on the other hand, concluded that these findings are based on aspiration thus only include student intentions and did not put emphasis on the long-run outcome, they proposed that affective learning outcomes can be regarded as a more important determinant for continuous learning than cognitive outcomes. Although several studies show weak relations between attitude and achievement (Ma & Kishor, 1997; Singh, et al., 2002), it is evident that affective outcomes have long term effects (Savelsbergh, et al., 2016).

Research on the effect of innovative teaching approaches on attitudes in STEM has an ungainly history. In one of the reviews, Osborene et al., (2003) concluded that in 30 years of research into this topic is tormented by the lack of clarity about the subject under investigation. They also conclude that although thousands of reports are available on assessing the effect of different interventions or approaches on attitude, the effect size is marginal and most of the findings cannot be generalized beyond the particular studies. Several other studies were also done to assess the effect of interventions on attitude and achievements for subjects like science and mathematics (Middleton & Spanias,1999; Bennett et al.,2007; Potvin &Hasni, 2014b). To sum up, although overall tendency across the studies appear to be that innovative approaches do have a positive effect but there is slight clarity that which interventions cause effects on what outcome and in what condition. From above material, it is evident that both attitude and achievements are interesting affective outcomes to measure the effect of innovative approaches on students for STEM.

The preference for collaborative learning stems from the presence of a structure and the ease of enforcement of accountability (Brody and Davidson, 1998; Kagan and Kagan, 2009; Millis and Cottell, 1998; Johnson, Johnson, and Smith, 1998). On the other hand, collaborative approaches are preferred owing to the role of group-level negotiation and the reaching of agreements between students, fostering a more organic approach to learning (Bruffee, 1993; Smith and MacGregor, 1992). Moreover, inquiry-based learning requisites students to familiarise themselves with various components of the group effort, thus, increasing the scope of learning.

The disadvantages associated with collaborative learning has been the focus of a number of studies.  The disadvantages of the collaborative method lie in the lack of interaction and self-determination of the division of labour (Davidson and Major, 2014).On the other hand, the drawbacks of the inquiry-based learning approach are the difficulty in enforcing accountability resulting in unequal division of labour and the compartmentalisation of efforts where a holistic approach is more suitable (Davidson and Major, 2014). However, empirical research contrasting the two approaches is scant with the exception of Johnson, Johnson and Stanne (1986). Moreover, while it is acknowledged that each approach has its merits, it is unclear as to which group-learning approach is favourable in relation to factors such as the objective of teaching in consideration, disparities in competencies between students in the group and the ethnic or gender composition of the group. The proposed empirical study therefore seeks to investigate the role of group composition in determining which group-learning approach is more suitable.

Previous research finds that gender plays an important role in students’ confidence in activities regarding the search for information in inquiry based learning (Lamoureux et al., 2013) and that females perform better in inquiry based learning environments in comparison to traditional learning environments whereas no difference is found for male groups between the effects of the two learning environments (Cooper et al., 2010). Moreover, female students have been shown to use such strategies more than their male counterparts (Stump et al., 2011) and that mixed-groups perform better than same-gender groups in collaborative learning environments (Cen et al., 2014). The quantitative study proposed seeks to subject groups differing in their gender composition (independent variable) and in the approach to group-learning (dependent variable), by establishing a correlation between the two.

For the purpose of this research, it is important to discuss how those two learning styles can be presented in the classroom. Hence, the following lines will discuss how those concepts have similarities, differences and limitations on their practice along with some other issues.

The inquiry-based learning model is a traditional model where the students are coming on the epicenter of the learning process by asking questions, while the teacher’s role is to guide them so to find the answers that they are looking for. A key similarity with CL, is that on both models have the student on the epicenter. It is the students who will work out the way that they will learn and acquire the knowledge but also they will construct the knowledge and how they will perceived the examined elements. In the case of the STEM environment, the students on both models are called to reach the knowledge with the use of innovative practices but also to expand their knowledge on issues related with STEM, which has been not the focus of the educational curriculum during the past decades (Zacharia and Olympiou, 2011). A key advantage of both practices is their flexibility. For example, Tan and Seah (2011) refer on the fact that those practices can take place in the physical environment but also in the virtual environment, for example on internet forums.

Of course, they have some differences. The inquiry-based learning model takes the traditional model and flips it around. The students are the ones who do the asking, and the teacher’s role is to be their guide as they find the answers they are looking for. On the other hand, on the CL the teacher does not have any involvement in the process of the collaboration. The students will gather on teams, either in the classroom or in the virtual setting, and they will collaborate so to help each other to understand some difficult subjects related with STEM but also to present an output in the form of a learning object which is set on the beginning of the classroom from the teacher. As suggested in Ingram and Hathorn (2004: 225-226), some the basic characteristics of collaborative learning are interdependence as the pattern of participation and interaction in the group, synthesis, as the creation of something new as a result of discussion (Kaye,1992); and independence, as autonomous actions of students who do not refer questions and problems to the teacher, as it happens with the inquiry-based model. Therefore, in a classroom which has to negotiate with a subject related with STEM the two different styles will be presented and understood from the students in terms of their fundamental elements; in the case of the CL there is going to be come collaborative practices, for example to work in groups or to undertake a group essay, while in a more advanced setting the collaboration can take place in a virtual environment, such as in a forum or in an e-learning platform. In the case of the inquiry-based learning environment, there is going to be a discussion with answers and questions from the students to the teacher. The differences and the distinctions are clear between those two learning methods, with the difference lying in the case of the role and the interaction which exists between the teacher and the students (Walker et al, 2014; Joubert & Wishart, 2012). In practice, the two learning methods have some distinctive differences which will help the students to understand which method is the CL and which is the inquiry-based. For example, the teacher can set a subject to inquiry where the students will make questions and they will examine it in depth with the support of the teacher. Regarding the case of the collaboration learning, the students can collaborate into the examined subject so to produce the knowledge, understand it and present the output to the classroom. On both cases, the teacher observes and guides the students, but it is the student on the epicenter of the learning process. The things which are similar refer on the content of both learning methods which is going to be related on STEM (Walker et al, 2014). The author will check upon which teaching method is used by communicating with the teacher but also by examining the content of the teaching. Surely, there are going to be methodological differences in respect of the fact that there are two different learning approaches with different roles. The CL while include the content of the collaborative tools, such as the forums or any other tool used, while on the inquiry-based learning model, the author will apply upon the use the content of the dialogues, along with the primary data which will derive from this research.

Research on the effect of innovative teaching approaches on attitudes in STEM could be said to  start with the review of Osborne et al.,(2003) who concluded that in 30 years of research into this topic manifest a discernible lack of clarity about the subject.They also conclude that although thousands of reports are available on assessing the effect of different interventions or approaches on attitude, the effect size is marginal and most of the findings cannot be generalized beyond the particular studies.This finding is noticeable for the present research project that will be conducted in a school in Kuwait. In what ways and to what extent will the ultimate research findings of this study be applicable to other countries and teaching situations will be a crucial question that will need addressing. Several other studies were also done to assess the effect of interventions on attitude and achievements for science subjects and mathematics (Bennett et al.,2007; Potvin &Hasni, 2014b). An analysis of the number of publications up to 2016 reveals a strong growth of the current field of study. Searches using Scopus and the Web of Science yielded many more studies than accessing ERIC and PsycINFO, presumably because many studies of potential interest have been published in science and mathematics education journals, rather than educational or psychological journals (Savelsbergh et al., 2016).To sum up, although overall tendency across the studies appear to be that innovative approaches do have a positive effect but there is no unanimity regarding which interventions cause effects on what outcome and in what conditions. For the purpose of the present research what needs to be noted is that it is evident that both attitude and achievements are interesting affective outcomes to measure the effect of innovative approaches on students.

Benefits of collaborative learning method has been the subject of a number of studies. Laal & Ghodsi (2012) compartmentalized these benefits into four categories: social, psychological, academic and assessment.  Among social benefits previous research mention providing a social support system for learners (Laal & Ghodsi, 2012), exposing students to a diversity of understandings of the studied topic (creation of heterogeneous social relationships (Webb, 1980)), improving cooperation (CL develops social interaction skills Cohen et al., 1991) and develop learning communities (Tinto, 1997). Summers et al. (2005) showed that collaborative learning fosters the creation of a positive academic classroom community. The psychological benefits of collaborative learning include increased student self-esteem, reduced anxiety, positive attitudes towards teachers (Laal & Ghodsi, 2012). Collaborative learning has been shown to improve students’ attitudes in regards to science studies. In fact, the more time students spend working in groups, the more favorable their attitudes towards learning science become (Springer et al., 1999). This could be explained by the fact that collaborative learning encourages students to discuss about the social goals related to science study and to explore their anxieties and  learn that other share them as well and thus be able to improve their attitudes towards learning science (Watters & Ginns, 2000). Moreover, academic benefits of collaborative learning include improved critical thinking skills (Gokhale, 2001), increased student engagement, improved classroom results, personalization of lectures, increased student motivation (Laal & Ghodsi, 2012). Collaborative learning greatly improves learning outcomes. For example, computer-supported collaborative learning enables students to co-construct shared understanding of science lessons and the resulting peer conflicts leads to conceptual change, and thus, greater understanding (Tao & Gunstone, 2001).

Collaborative learning can be complemented with a number of aids. For instance,

various technologies can be used in order to support collaborative learning and inquiry based learning in higher education classrooms. The scientific literature shows that there are many other tools that can be easily applied in collaborative learning settings such as tools used for sharing ideas and brainstorming (i.e. Google Docs, Padlet, Mindmeister, Lino etc.), tools for online communication (i.e. Skype, Adobe Connect, Google Hangouts etc.) and other virtual learning environments (Resta & Laferriere, 2007). For example, Wikis are among the most frequently discussed technological innovations in regards to collaborative learning (Wheeler et al., 2008), whereas social media has also been investigated as a technological tool to enhance out of class collaborative learning activities, but the results have been mixed (Biswas & Farhana, 2016; Johansson, 2016). For inquiry-based learning there are various simple web-based technological solutions such as WebQuest, which allows students to solve a problem in a structured manner (introduction, task, process, resources, evaluation and conclusion) while using ‘safe’ and relevant Internet resources (Hakverdi-Can & Sonmez, 2012) or web-based learning communities (Bruce & Bishop, 2002). Other more advanced and complex technologies for inquiry based learning include: simulations which are very similar to serious games and in which students mimic the process of scientific investigation using real or generated data (Taassobhrirazi et al., 2006), augmented reality which provides authentic learning experience and simulate very closely the work of real scientists (Rosenbaum et al., 2007) and mobile learning which combines classroom activities with field learning (Shihs et al., 2010).

Literature gaps

There persists a number of gaps in research regarding the relative effectiveness of each innovative teaching methods such as collaborative learning or inquiry-based leraning.

Firstly, research until now has focused either on identifying the commonalities between the two (Panitz, 1996) or even on combining them in what is called collaborative inquiry-based learning (Dong & Guo, 2013), but there are clear differences between the two that merit scientific clarification. Matthews et al. (1995) and Davidson and Major (2014) have highlighted a series of differences which pertain to the role of the teacher, the nature of student roles, the presence of competition and collaboration, the type of assessments employed, the type of work and the balance between student-centered and problem-centered course design.

Secondly, there are only a couple of studies directly comparing the two teaching methods. For example, Kalaian and Kasim (2014) performed a meta-analytic review of studies related to small group learning methods applied in statistics classes and concluded that collaborative teaching methods did increase the level of students’ academic achievement in comparison to traditional ones, but that inquiry-based methods had no effect. However, this conclusion was achieved through an analysis of the results provided by studies which investigated the effects of collaborative and inquiry based learning in separate settings, and is clearly contradicted by other research. Thus, by comparing these two teaching methods in a controlled experimental set up, the current research will provide clearer insights into the ways in which collaborative and inquiry based learning affect student learning outcomes. The most important differences are those regarding teacher and student roles and the interactions they could build. Indeed, considering that teachers and students are two of the major elements in learning, Mattews et al. (1995) highlight a significant difference existing between the function and involvement role of the teacher in both methods. Likewise, these authors highlight the performance of the students: while in one method the students have assigned tasks, in the other, they are themselves responsible to determine which are the tasks to perform. Finally, the relations between a teacher and the students are constructed in a different way, with a more directive teacher on the one hand and a centered student on the other hand.

Conclusion

The academic literature synthesized and analyzed for this part suggests that there are a number of studies indicating merits and demerits of such group-learning when contrasting that against individualistic learning (Johnson and Johnson, 1981; Johnson and Johnson, 1987; Springer et al, 1999; Slavin, 1983). Research comparing different types of group-learning approaches, on the other hand, is scarce. However, a number of studies posit relative advantages and disadvantages of each group-learning approach. Moreover, the reviewed literature suggests that there persists ambiguity as to effect of innovative teaching methods on the student’s behaviors and patterns. Thus, this research will break the taboo of poor assessment of the effect of innovative teaching approaches for students. This research will be used to understand the attitude and behavior of students because of learning of science. There are not any restricted means but there are numerous conceptual and practical factors which can directly put an effect on the outcomes; such as gender, environment, culture and the multi-dimensional construct. The gender factor is studied in the literature in the meta analyses with a range of researches. The research has summarized that the males study science with more concentration than females. This effect has been observed for Physics and Chemistry but not of the Biology. This showed that the females study mathematics and other science subjects more than males. This research will study the environmental factors; such as teacher/class factor, curriculum, difficulty in science understanding, structural variables and other options to research for the researchers.

Chapter Three

Research questions

The main reason why this study is key is the little evidence in the extant research literature that shows the connection between innovative approaches to IBL vs CL regarding classroom-based research, especially in conjunction with lecture series. Thus, the rationale for this research project is to consider in the classroom learning context these approaches in promoting heuristic discovery-oriented learning on the part of students. How the latter affects the interest, positive attitude and achievements of learner’s area the main issue-area addressed by this research (Fortus, 2014; Osborne, et al., 2003). Despite the presence of numerous studies on IBL vs CL and their effects on the students’ attitudes and achievements, no study has been performed comparing these approaches applied to the same educational setting and subject.  The significance of this research project, then, is that it faces the challenge to consider innovative approaches to STEM science education in the classroom with special reference to measurable cognitive achievements and affective outcomes with regards to changes in the attitude concerning the heuristics of learning.

Aims of the research

  1. To analyze the effectiveness of current approaches in teaching science at the university level by investigating their effects on students’ attitudes toward science subjects.
  2. To analyze the effectiveness of current approaches in teaching science at the university level by investigating their effects on students’ achievements on performance tasks and course assessments for lecture series.
  3. To compare the use, experience and effects of inquiry based learning (IBL) and collaborative learning(CL).
  4. To investigate the role of gender and discipline in shaping these experiences and effects.

Research Questions

  1. What is the impact of each of the above-mentioned innovative teaching methods on student attitudes towards learning Biology, Chemistry, and Physics?
  2. What is the impact of the above mentioned innovative teaching methods on student achievements in their Biology, Chemistry and Physics course?
  3. Is the student attitude towards a subject affects their end-term achievement on that particular subject?
  4. What is the relation between the students’ attitude or perception towards a subject and their achievement?
  5. Which among the approaches show positive results for both attitude and achievement of students in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology? Compare also between a lecture and laboratory class.
  6. Which among the given four innovative teaching approaches is applicable to SPED (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) students?

Chapter Four

Research design

Table 1. Proposed Research Design

4 Innovative Approaches Literature Review Experimental Method Comparison of Results
1.       CBL

2.       IBL

3.       ICT-rich

4.       Collaborative

1.       Effect on student attitude

2.       Effect on student achievement

3.       Compare for each subject: Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Laboratory and Lecture class.

1.       Effect on student attitude (Attitude will be determined by conducting a survey)

2.       Effect on Achievement (Achievement can be measured by the outcome, such as exam results)

 

Parameters of research

Affective outcomes, attitude, and achievements are the three parameters of the proposed research. As mentioned earlier that field of attitude research has long been plagued by the fact that it is a poor predictor of behavior. There are different theories towards attitude as a poor predictor.

  1. Attitude is multidimensional construct (Gardner, 1975).
  2. Any concrete situation involves many particulates that are not being accounted for by the overall attitude assessment (Ajzen, 1991).
  3. In addition to the attitude towards the object or behavior, behavior is also influenced by subjective norms and perceived behavioral control (Ajzen, 1985).

To improve studies based on affective outcome especially attitude Simonson and Maushak. (2001) suggested six guidelines for effective design.

make the instruction realistic, relevant, and technically stimulating

  • Present new information
  • Present persuasive messages in a credible manner
  • Elicit purposeful emotional involvement
  • Involve the learner in planning, production or delivery of the message
  • Provide post-instruction discussion or critique opportunities

While Smith and Ragan (1999) focus on the behavioral aspect of attitude learning and suggested following instruction:

  • Demonstration of the desired behavior by a respected role model
  • Practice of the desired behavior, often through role playing
  • Reinforcement of the desired behavior

As compare to attitude, achievement may seem to be straightforward to conceptualize but it also possesses its own challenges, particular in science and even more in some other school subjects. Achievement tests are course or subject specific and most of the studies use achievement measures specifically constructed for the task at hand. This can result in a difficulty to assess the quality of the instrument. While Slavin and Madden (2011) argued that standardized tests are more aligned with the outcomes of the traditional curriculum. In another attempt to further understand the effect of interventions on students attitude and beliefs to learning science and math courses particular studies were performed by STEM teachers. For this case, attitudes refer not only to the student’s interest and motivation in learning but also the coherence of the subject, its relevance and practical applications (Redish, et al., 1998; Perkins, et al., 2008). Figure 1 shows the overall attitude that may be developed among students.

This study also concludes that innovative approaches have a significant effect on overall attitude while for other attitude components uncertainties were large. In the case of achievements, they find significant and large effect as compare to attitude. While they also argued that during interpretation of achievements one should consider that achievements measure was not subjected to same rigorous criteria they applied for attitude. A standardized achievement test is very rare in studies and separate achievement test specifically designed for the task at hand thus might introduce biases towards the innovative group (Savelsberg et al., 2016).

From the above discussion, we can conclude that by following carefully selected instruction and measurement scales one can achieve significant results with good effect.

Analysis

Most previous studies are expected to focus only on the effect of such innovative teaching method on either the student attitude or their achievement. Results will be compared for each teaching style. Same will be conducted focusing on students with learning disabilities.

Target Data (Regular Students):

Innovative teaching method Subject Determine:  
1.       CBL

2.       IBL

3.       ICT-Rich

4.       Collaborative

Biology Lec Effect on Student Attitude Effect on Student’s Achievement
Biology Lab      
Chemistry Lec      
Chemistry Lab      
Physics Lec      
Physics Lab      

Target Data for SPED for any subject

  Innovative Teaching Method Determine:  
SPED students CBL Effect on Student Attitude Effect on Student’s Achievement
IBL      
ICT-Rich      
Collaborative      

These are quantitative methods based on questionnaires meant to assess students’ attitudes. Moreover, learning outcomes are usually measured using the grades received by the students at the end of the course. However, we also added the teacher’s diary as a qualitative research method in order to be able to triangulate data from three sources. Thus, we chose a mixed methods research because this is the current trend in the literature on collaborative learning (Strijbos & Fischer, 2007), and there are numerous examples of studies which have applied triangulation to integrate data collected through various research methods (Schrire, 2006; Strijbos et al., 2007).

For this study, we will triangulate the students’ responses to the attitude assessment questionnaire with the grades obtained through the teachers’ assessment and from the notes on students’ in class behavior from the teacher’s diary.

  • Why do we think these methods the best fit for our students category?
  • In terms of the students I am dealing with? (private university, some classes are mixed some boys & girls separated) what is the important things I have to focus on?

It is important to focus on group composition (in terms of gender, social class etc.) and how this affects the result of the two teaching methods. Previous researches have emphasized that gender influences students’ confidence in activities regarding the search for information in inquiry based learning (Lamoreux et al., 2013) and that females perform better in inquiry based learning environments in comparison to traditional learning environments whereas for males there is no difference between the effects of the two learning environments (Cooper et al., 2010). Moreover, female students have been shown to use collaborative learning strategies more than their male counterparts (Stump et al., 2011) and that mixed-groups perform better than same-gender groups in collaborative learning environments (Cen et al., 2014).

  • What is the expected advantages of collaborative learning and inquiry learning for our specific students? Why these methods are effective in teaching science?
  • How we will use technology in the classes? and how it will overlap with the teaching methods we are using?

Firstly, conceptual work incorporates the analysis of definitions, which several authors use to refer to the collaborative approach or the inductive approach. Once the researcher has these definitions, he proceeds to analyze them by establishing first what their objectives are (what do they pursue?), their methods (how do they do?) and the characteristics of the definition.

Secondly, we proceed to the comparison between definitions in order to establish which points they agree on, on which ones there are no coincidences and which are the things that we would have expected to find in these definitions but were not present. Thirdly, conceptual work consists of determining which are the concepts and definitions involved in the research. In fact, in this research, the concepts and definitions of collaborative learning and inquiry-based learning are the main concepts we need to establish. However, it is also necessary to determine and define the relationships that may exist between the two concepts already mentioned. Fourthly, it is essential to identify other notions that may be indirectly related. Finally, a network of related definitions is obtained that allows the understanding of how these concepts are defined and what role the main definitions involved in this research play. For example, collaborative learning, inquiry-based learning, small student groups, skills development, and teacher and student roles are some of the concepts that would be involved in this research.

Overall, the difference between conceptual work and methodological work lies in the fact that the methodological work refers to fieldwork, i.e. the way data is collected for a research. Therefore, we are talking about questionnaires, interviews, videos or any other instrument that allows me to collect the required data. However, it should be noted that in any research there is a method, thus, a way of doing things from the beginning until the final results and conclusions. Research is a systematic work and contains a characteristic methodology, depending on the object of study. In our case, it is necessary to determine what will be the collaborative and inquiry-based learning definitions we are going to choose. To do this, it is fundamental to analyze in detail the most important definitions that the literature brings, to compare them and determine the points of coincidence, the points of divergence and the absences, i.e. those aspects that we would have expected to find in the definitions, but that are absent. In doing this, I could determine what are the best definitions of collaborative and inquiry-based learning that are going to be used for the purpose of this research. Continuing with the revision of the literature, I find a second group of investigations in which, there are only a couple of studies directly comparing the two teaching methods, this is, collaborative and cooperative teaching methods. For example, Kalaian and Kasim (2014) performed a meta-analytic review of studies related to small group learning methods applied in statistics classes and concluded that collaborative teaching methods did increase the level of students’ academic achievement in comparison to traditional ones, but that inquiry-based methods had no effect. However, this conclusion was predicated upon the analysis of the results provided by studies, which investigated the effects of collaborative, and inquiry based learning in separate settings, and is clearly contradicted by other research. Thus, by comparing these two teaching methods in a controlled experimental set up, the current research will provide clearer insights into the ways in which collaborative and inquiry based learning affect student learning outcomes. I argue that these results will be useful for advancing research regarding the two teaching methods and also have a direct applicability in pedagogical practice as science teachers will have a clearer understanding of the benefits and limitations of the two teaching strategies.

Pilot

The pilot study can be a useful approach so to avoid any potential mistakes or errors during the research but also to see how the research design may improve. Especially at postgraduate and PhD level, it is important to include a pilot study which will indicate the weaknesses and strengthens of the research approach that the student has chosen (Cohen et al, 2011). Having decided to conduct a pilot study of a given form and size on a particular topic, the investigator should ensure that the design and conduct of research responds to the following points:

  • How to ask questions in a clear and not misleading way
  • How to motivate respondents to answer questions (and to do so with precision)
  • How to reach out to people with whom research is planned
  • How to ensure that groups of people with special interests will not refuse to answer
  • How will it be decided what is appropriate and right to be asked
  • How will we assess whether we will achieve the statistical objectives of research in terms of impartiality and accuracy, but also costs (Walker et al, 2014)

Such questions refer to a few of the many practical (not directly statistical) issues that we should take into consideration before moving from the planning stage to the stage of conducting. In fact, these questions should influence our design decisions regarding the format of sampling, sampling and sample size required.The starting point should be the question: What can go wrong and why? Suppose we have made decisions about the amount of money spent on research and on its statistical format. Before initiating the investigation, however, it must obviously be considered whether it is possible to collect the data in the way it determines the considered sample pattern and what difficulties may arise in the course of the process. With this pre-survey examination, we get our feedback with information from which we can, if necessary, reform the research plan to make it more feasible. It is important for a research to identify and ask the correct people; those who are directly related with the objectives of the research. Indeed, the researcher would have to think carefully in a matter of issues, such as who will participate and how the researcher is going to delegate the resources. A pilot research is able to reveal issues which have not been taken into consideration or examined during the research. Therefore, it is very useful to make a rehearsal of the research tools just to examine the case of having a problem which may appear during the process (Cohen et al, 2011). A key issue regarding the pilot test is the fact that some of the questions may not be answered or overall there may be a problem with the content of the questionnaire. A crucial issue is not only to produced questions which would be related with the research aims and objectives but also to produce a content which would be understood from the respondents. According to Cohen et al (2011) on many cases the instrument of research can be made in such a way that it is not understood from the respondents. The researcher may use terms which are understood in the academia but they may not be understood from participants. Hence, there is the threat of the non-response items. The extent of non-response is seen as a measure of the lack of success of an investigation. This, however, is a dubious rule. The non-response may reflect mistaken decisions about how, when, when, and how to collect information, and can therefore be controlled with a prudent choice of operating procedures. On the other hand, it is conceivable that different research topics and different data collection methods inevitably lead to different levels of non-response. In addition, the non-response rate may not be directly related to the extent of the error caused by the non-response. The resulting loss in sample size will, of course, inflate estimators, but the degree of bias will depend on how typical or unusual is the unresponsive portion of the population as a whole.

The proposed research on this thesis is going to use different data collection methods, such as experimental methods, literature review and comparison of results. Surely this is a quite extensive approach and it may hide some threats during its implementation. Also, there is always the threat that the mix of data collection methods may not work out properly as it is expected from the researcher. Felder and Brent (2016) argue that STEM research is even more complicated because it involves high technologies and innovations which may hide some potential threats for a researcher. Based on the above-mentioned paragraphs, there is a need to discuss and explain issues regarding the pilot test. The pilot test shall be the rehearsal of the main research; hence it is a simulation of what will happen. For this reason, the design of the pilot test will have similar characteristics with the key research. Hence the pilot research will take place in Kuwait, while the location is a Private university in Kuwait provide science, technology and business education.

It is not exactly a particular university, but we must consider the points below:

1: Most Students comes with weak Science courses background and I am teaching first years.

2: Some students did not have Physics, Chemistry or biology in their grade 12.

3: Some students they are outstanding and have a good background about science courses.

4: Male/female

  • Most of the classes male and female are in separated classes.
  • I have few mix classes.
  • Classes usually from 18-24 Students per class.
  • This independent variable is part of the school environment in the sense that pupils are taught in separate groups.
  • We will be able to collect male and female data and aggregate or disaggregate them as appropriate in analysis. It means that there would be hurdles to examining male/female interactions.

From the above, it is understood that besides the content of the instrument of research, there is a need to examine the current situation in the place where the research will take place and how the class will welcome the research. It is crucial for the purpose of this research to have a mixed sample, for example from female and male students, but also students from all years, so to have the whole image of the educational institute where the research will take place.

Another issue which will be examined during the pilot survey is how to measure student attitude and what these attitudes are to be about. Are Likert scales good enough for your purposes? Some of the key issues examined on the pilot test are:

  • Interviews are an opportunity to find out about those expressed attitudes in the wider context of participants identity. There are reasons to think that self-identity is a factor in responses to different teaching methods, to engagement with stem and to engagement with learning broadly.
  • Focus groups could give access to the conversations that can be had around teaching methods, student attitudes and stem learning.
  • What is another way we can consider?

Therefore, the pilot test will evaluate from the responses whether the like scale and the design of the questionnaire allows the students to respond fast but also to understand the nature of the questionnaire. For this reason, the researcher will discuss the questionnaire with the respondents so to see what is their reaction and whether there is going to be a need for other alternatives or not. It is understood that this is a PhD research and the researcher will need some time so to adjust the environment and to confirm if the chosen method is the most appropriate (Cohen et al, 2011).

Another issue is that the research takes place within a very particular context, which is the school where the research will take place. The pilot test will have to consider the following:

  • Some students are wealth means that it plays a role in student engagement, how we can consider that.
  • Gender and student engagement need to be acknowledge as issues.
  • They should not necessarily overwhelm the core focus of the research which is teaching methods.

So, the researcher will examine if the above issues may affect the research process or not.

To conclude, the aim of the pilot study is not to produce results, but to examine the feasibility of this research and to ensure that there will not be any mistakes or other problems during the research. Hence, the pilot study is a very important part of this process. The author will make a trial research in sample of 20 students. Each case will be accompanied from a discussion with each student where the student will be asked for his or her experiences from the questionnaire and what issues had to deal with during this process.

For the above reasons, the researcher will include a pilot research into the research design. Emphasis will be given on the primary data collection tools which concern the experimental method. For this reason, the author will design a pilot study in a classroom. The classroom will make an experiment which is within the STEM’s context which will include CL and IBL. The researcher will collect data before and after the experiment from a small number of students. The aim is not to examine the answers given on the questionnaire but to monitor how the respondents have reacted to the content of the questionnaires and whether they faced any difficulty. For this reason, after the distribution of the questionnaires, the researcher will ask the respondents whether they faced any difficulty or other issues which need to take into consideration. Based on the evidence given from the pilot study the research will try to make improvements on the questionnaires and on the research process. In order to have access to the participants, the researcher will communicate with the school district and other authorities so to inform them about the research and to get their approval. Moreover, the students and their parents will be informed. The participation will be voluntary.

Chapter Five

Data collection

Data collection is core to the outcomes of research. To determine the effectiveness of both collaborative and inquiry-based learning approaches in classrooms, the research will generate data using experimental methods, literature review and comparison of results.

Experimental Method

Testing Innovative Teaching Approach

  1. Application of the Innovative Teaching Approaches to classes

The innovative teaching approaches will be applied to science classes, such as Biology, Chemistry, and Physics for both Lecture and laboratory subjects. ICT rich approach can be applied using the smart board in Physics class, which is currently available in the University. A collaborative approach can be applied in both lecture and lab courses to determine in which class it works well.In cases where tan approach is not applicable to the same school, other schools can be used as the subject in order to obtain sufficient data. The researcher will determine which school applies CBL, IBL, ICT-Rich and Collaborative teaching approach in their curriculum. Upon agreement and after a term, that school can be visited to conduct a survey and gather necessary information.

  1. Measuring Student’s Attitude and Perception

The students’ attitude and beliefs about learning biology, chemistry, and physics, for Lecture and Laboratory subjects, will be measured using a survey. Each item will consist of a statement to which students respond on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. An overall score will be calculated for each student as the percentage of answers that match the expert response.

Administration of the Survey

Students need to fill out surveys near the beginning (pre) and end (post) of the semester.

Measuring Student’s Achievements

Quizzes and exam results will be used to measure the student’s achievements upon the application of each innovative teaching approach.

  1. Statistical Analysis

The survey results and the exams will be analyzed using an appropriate statistical test to determine the validity of the result of the research.

  1. Comparison with literature

Results obtained from revisiting the literature or past research over the decade will be compared with the results obtained from the experiment.

How the participants will receive the difference between the methods

To ensure that participants understand their roles, there is a need to understand their role in the examined models. Indeed, students, like members of any other community, are not all the same and their everyday roles may vary widely depending on how different their personalities or their cultural backgrounds are. Thus, students in inquiry classes, where they are asked to take initiatives and are provided with the opportunity to have a say in the whole learning process, may adopt an even wider variety of roles. After all, as Dewey (1938) points out, such a classroom is an environment where students construct their understandings by solving real-world problems through a continuum of their own experiences and from contemplating the writings of others. Inquiry classrooms which always value pair and group work are environments where students are given the freedom to open up and ‘show their true colors’. Indeed, while working in small or bigger groups trying to accomplish a ‘learning-mission’, various aspects of the personality of a student may unravel. Some students may start asking persistent questions or become really competitive while others may prefer to learn facts which they will later on share patiently with their peers. Therefore, when the students will start this process, for example by starting making persistent questions, all of the participants will realize that they are in an inquiry-based learning model.

Regarding collaborative learning, as Short et al (1996) point out, learners need to communicate directly with each other and develop a ‘warm understanding’ and friendly interpersonal relationships within the team. Some may be open-minded when a member of their group cannot cope and lend a helping hand in a caring way, while others may try to opt out of the team-work when the first collaboration problems arise. The stages through which collaboration occurs in a classroom can also shed light on the roles that students seek within the inquiry community. Some of them may prefer to have a more active role in gathering data and doing the ‘silent’ research, while others (usually the more self-confident ones) may prefer to present the team’s findings in public. In any case, this ‘genuine flow of information’ is what creates a ‘condition of unexpectedness’ and permits the development of fluency when it comes to STEM education (Johnson, 1982). Consequently, some of these learners may find it easier to improvise when finding, organizing, analyzing and displaying information from a variety of sources, while others may follow the agreed formats or the class repertoire without any deviations. Like in any other community, such diversity, provided there is cohesion, is a great strength. Students learn to cooperate and appreciate each other, their characteristics, their strong points and weaknesses, something that they would not benefit from in a more individually-based learning environment (Davidson, 2009, p.101). However, one of the key core community members that all students observe and interact with, is the teacher, this is why his/her role is equally important throughout the collaboration process.

To check who the students will feel upon the different roles, the research would have to examine the attitude of the students. The students’ attitude and beliefs about learning biology, chemistry, and physics, for lecture and laboratory subjects, will be measured using a survey which will measure their perceptions and attitudes towards the learning methods used. As it has been described in the Methodology, the author will use a questionnaire so to examine the attitudes of the students before and after the course. However, it is important to use participant observation as a mean which will help the researcher to monitor the reactions and the progress of the students as the learning methods will develop. For example, the researcher can examine the roles and each student’s level of participation on the different learning models. In this case, each student will be monitored in terms of how he or she has reacted upon the examined techniques. The same student can be examined in terms of how he or she is able to answer upon the questions made from the other students and what was the participation of the student on this learning approach. At the same time, the same student will be examined on what was his or her contribution on the collaboration sessions. The types of difference that the students might experience can be related with the levels of participation that the student has, the way that the student interacted with the other students, the quality of the content that they have contribute and their achievement. For this reason, the research design has included a pilot research so to identify from the early stages of this research how the students feel and their experiences.

The expectations from this research are that the participants will express their attitude for each of the examined methods. According to Tolmie (2010), students who have participated in courses which included CL have learnt to interact each other and working into groups but also, they have learnt to provide a feedback into what they are doing since this is part of their collaborative tasks. In addition to this, Short et al (1996) refer those students who have participated in the inquiry-based learning methods have also a sound knowledge on feedback due to the nature of the inquiry process. The feedback of the students will be recorded also on the questionnaires that they will in before and after the sessions, while the researcher will receive the students’ feedback as been an observer on some courses. Furthermore, the achievements, in terms of quizzes and exams results, can be part of the feedback given from the students.

The innovative teaching approaches will be applied to science classes, such as Biology, Chemistry, and Physics for both lecture and laboratory subjects. ICT-rich approach can be applied using the smart board in Physics class, which is currently available in the University. A collaborative approach can be applied in both lecture and lab courses to determine in which class it works well. Inquiry-based learning often starts by asking a question or presenting a problem where the discussion will build upon. Technologies such as the use of online forums or wikis are commonly used in today’s classroom environment as part of the inquiry-based learning process. Felder and Brent (2016) have argued that students today, especially those who have chosen modules related with the STEM context, are quite familiar with the use of new technologies – especially technologies related with communication and interaction – hence the use of ICT and the introduction of innovations is something that the students feel that they are relatively knowledgeable about. Students tend to be more familiar on technologies when it comes to collaboration learning. This can be explained by the fact that this type of teaching style facilitates interaction between students through group projects or group discussion. Group project require a significant research on the internet and the use of the appropriate software and tools. For example, a statistical project will require the use of SPSS, Excel, R and of math software, while the results can be discussed on online forums or groups (Walker et al, 2014).It is well understood that some technologies are similar for both learning styles. For example, both learning styles can use online forums, groups, chats etc so to promote the interaction and the communication between the participants. The key difference can come on the fact that CL includes projects which may need some special made software and technologies. Especially when it comes on modules related with STEM, the projects require some advanced software packages and technologies

Personal Summary

  • Educated Professional with a distinguished career providing educational instruction and training solutions.
  • Possess over six years’ experience in the field of education, Physics/ Biophysics Instructor, lab instructor, teaching, administration, presentations and clinical research. Functional knowledge of implementing curriculum in accordance with modern lab instructor and teaching methodologies.
  • Provides support for faculty reservations, orientation. Schedule faculty appointments and prepare travel schedule.
  • Provides common support for students and faculty. Delivering physics, I, physics II, biophysics, mathematics, algebra, calculus, and biomedical physics lectures to the students and providing the study material to the students.
  • Preparing and delivering physics and biology lectures.
  • Designed laboratory demonstrations to illustrate course concepts.
  • Profound knowledge of the subject areas and ability to teach students by using various methods, strong commitment to the job as well as interested in teaching graduate and undergraduate students, excellent interpersonal and organizational skills.
  • Directed graduate and undergraduate students, developed their research and guided them.
  • Networking and public speaking skills.
  • Progressive Leader able to readily determine personal assets.
  • Excellent communication and comprehension abilities.
  • Moreover, I have an educational background in biomedical and medical physics.
  • My training during the study period helped me develop strong analytical skills, along with my professional working experience I believe I have good knowledge of field and methodologies.

Mention the research training will you need to undertake?

As mentioned in my professional summary, I have experience in teaching and assisting undergraduate and graduate student in developing, maintaining and delivering courses. I believe I understand the needs and requirement of not only the teachers but also the students for their attitude development, interests and needs thus I will not be required any extra training

Conclusion

Overall, the significance of this research project, then, is that it faces the challenge to consider innovative approaches to STEM science education in the classroom with special reference to measurable achievements and affective outcomes with regards to changes in the attitude concerning the heuristics of learning. It’s a comparison between approaches, its involves gender and it involves disciplinary differences. Research in the field of application of Innovation approaches on affective outcomes in STEM (attitude, achievement) is quite plagued to such an extent that most of the researchers started to think quit on it.

there it is key to determine the extent to which innovative teaching approaches enable successful teaching STEM subjects. The research aims to determine which of the four innovative teaching approaches is effective in developing positive attitudes of students towards learning science subjects, and its effect on the student’s achievement on the said course. Whether having a positive attitude towards learning science affects the student’s performance will also be investigated. Literature has provided successful outcomes on using the four approaches mentioned, but it is not determined which among the four is the most effective and to what type of students they can be applied. The research will also include students with learning disabilities to determine which among the four methods can bridge the gap between SPED and STEM.

Practical and conceptual factors and their implications for the outcomes of this research

Research studies find different factors which can affect the outcomes (Osborn, 2003). They can broadly be defined as.

Gender

Gender of the students can have key impact on their attitude towards STEM.This view is supported by Schibeci, (1984) extensive review of the literature and more recent meta-analyses of a range of research studies by Becker (1989) and Weinburgh (1995) covering the literature between 1970 and 1991. Both the latter two papers summarize numerous research studies to show that boys have a consistently more positive attitude to school science than girls, although this effect is stronger in physics than in biology. Although it also been suggested by many authors that situation is now changing and more girls are pursuing mathematics and science subjects. These findings suggest that gender itself may now only contribute a minor part.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors might include structural variables, classroom/teacher factor, curriculum variable, perceived difficulty of science and enhance subject choice. The researcher considers these external factors to be decisive in how students perceive subjects, and perform.

Conceptual factor

As delineated above, attitude is a multidimensional construct, thus, has poor predictive power. One way to overcome this issue is to measure aggregate of specific behaviors observed on different occasions and time, which cause the other source of influence to cancel each other, with the result that represents more valid measure of underlying behavior and give powerful prediction (Ajzen & Fishbein, 2005; Crano & Prislin, 2005; Kind et al., 2007).

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