We teachers use different methods and forms of work to ensure varied and more effective lessons for the students. In one single lesson, we often carry out several different forms of learning, so our choices should be prudent and beneficial to our students. Conducting experimental lessons in the classroom is always a special experience for the students, as the lessons are carried out in a different, more active way. We teachers can notice the enthusiasm of our students while performing specific experiments, however, simultaneously the question arises as to how much students can benefit from such forms of learning. To make the learning process as effective as possible, we wish for the students to not only enjoy the experiments but to widen their knowledge as much as possible.
Through the master's thesis, we are trying to find out how different forms of independent experimental studying affect the knowledge and skills of our students. We focused on the 4th-grade elementary school students and their school subject Science and technology, where science teaching is already more structured and carried out on a larger-scale. At the age of 9-10, students reach the stage of performing specific operations, so if they acquire certain content in practice rather than only in theory, they understand and remember them much better. The forms of learning for the implementation of experimental work are also adjusted, in accordance with the age of the students. 4th-grade elementary school students are experienced enough to be able to perform such experiments both individually and in groups.
More specifically: we wanted to study the students' viewpoints about experimental forms of learning and science lessons in general, how different forms of independent experimental work affect the development of the students' knowledge, the sustainability in the terms of the students' knowledge and achievement of specific skills, as well as the students' self-assessment concerning the different forms of independent experimental work. We conducted a study using the causal experimental and descriptive method of pedagogical research, intertwining with the qualitative and quantitative research approach.
The study included 61 4th-grade elementary school students at a selected elementary school in the school year 2019/20. Data was collected through a preliminary knowledge test, an actual knowledge test and a late knowledge test concerning the learning contents in the fields of light, electricity and magnetism, an initial and final general questionnaire on the overall opinions of students about their science and technology classes, with emphasis on experimental lessons, we handed out short surveys at the end of the knowledge tests where students provided their opinions on how they liked these specific forms of studying and how active they felt throughout the process, including individual observations of selected students.
The results of the research showed that the students have a positive outlook on the science lessons and that the learning method of independent experimental work has an essential effect on the development of the students' knowledge, namely the group learning method proved to be the least successful in comparison to the students who performed the experimental work independently. They show statistical differences between students who carried out such independent experimental work in different forms of learning, they do not show in the sustainability of knowledge and acquired skills, nor do they show statistical differences in students' self-assessment activities. There are no statistically significant differences between students who performed independent experimental work through different forms of learning, regarding the sustainability of their knowledge and their newly acquired skills, nor are there statistically significant differences in students' self-assessment of their activities. In assessing the popularity of each learning method, students generally decided that they most enjoyed performing experiments in pairs. The results of students' development in knowledge and in the sustainability thereof, where the differences were not statistically significant, also appeared to be in favour of working in pairs. Furthermore, choosing the appropriate learning method for experimental work in pairs provides a comfortable environment for the functioning of students as well as an effective environment for learning and acquiring new sets of skills. Although the results of the research cannot be generalized to the basic population due to the small sample of students, the research represents a solid basis for further research.