טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentCuperman Dan
SubjectFostering Analogical Thinking and Integration of Science
and Technology Studies through Practice in
Building and Exploring Robotic Models of
Natural Phenomena
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisor Professor Igor Verner
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

The goal of this study is to develop, implement and evaluate an approach to science and technology education which utilizes analogical reasoning as a way to integrate learning by inquiry and learning by design. According to this approach, the designed artefact is a robotic model of a natural phenomenon.

The research questions:

1.      What are the principles for developing and evaluating robotic models of natural phenomena that are used to combine learning science and technology and to practice analogical reasoning?

2.      What patterns of analogical reasoning are applied by students engaged in building and inquiring robotic models of natural phenomena?

3.      What are students' attitudes towards learning by creating and inquiring robotic models of natural phenomena?

A learning environment, a curriculum, and a teaching strategy were developed. Learning processes were studied with participation of middle school students involved in outreach activities (N=118) and prospective teachers (N=41). The teaching strategy scaffolds practice in scientific inquiry, analogical reasoning, and robot design.

To answer the first research question we implemented a grounded theory methodology, extracting data from observations, interviews, questionnaires, artefact analysis and project reports. For the second research question, we administered questionnaires regarding the inquired biological system, the built robotic model and the analogies between the two. From students' responses we identified analogical reasoning patterns. The third research question was answered based on attitude questionnaires and interviews. Findings regarding the first research question revealed a typical learning structure through which the student passes during the project. The findings indicated that our approach drives students' engagement in the learning process, prompts joyful learning, increases learning motivation and leads to learning achievements. The findings also show that evaluation of similarities and differences between the robotic model and the biological system can be utilized as a central theme for learning.

Regarding the second research question, several analogical thinking patterns emerged while comparing robots to biological systems. We found that students faced difficulties in observing all possible aspects of similarities and differences and there is a need to provide them with guidelines for making the comparison.

Regarding the third research question, findings indicated that the proposed approach facilitates positive attitudes towards learning and teaching with robotic models. Students and prospective teachers have displayed awareness of the importance of robotic models as a learning tool, and willingness to use this tool.

This research developed and tested the proposed approach and demonstrated its pedagogical advantages.