“Young Researchers–We Work Like Scientists” is a short-term science program for elementary school students aimed at promoting the understanding of science and students’ motivation. The intervention is part of a larger program used in Germany with talented elementary school students. It consists of 10 extracurricular lessons during which students are provided with challenging problem-solving activities and inquiry tasks.
A study published by the Journal of Educational Psychology evaluated the effectiveness of this program with 310 third- and fourth-grade students in German schools who received the 10 lessons once a week for 90 minutes. The authors used measures closely aligned with the program curriculum to assess inquiry competencies as well as measures made by other researchers to assess student understanding of science and student motivation.
Results of the study showed that:
- There were significantly higher inquiry competencies for the intervention students on a measure aligned with the program and made by the authors.
- No significant results were found on the other measures of science understanding (epistemic beliefs, epistemic curiosity, and need for cognition) or student motivation.
- Differential gender effects were found with higher scores for girls on the epistemic beliefs measure than for boys.
These mixed findings show that while the “Young Researchers” intervention improves inquiry skills trained during the program, other studies are needed in order to investigate the effects on other skills with more generalized measures.
Source: Schiefer, J., Stark, L., Gaspard, H., Wille, E., Trautwein, U., & Golle, J. (2020). Scaling up an extracurricular science intervention for elementary school students: It works, and girls benefit more from it than boys. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication. Doi:10.1037/edu0000630