Science Fair Project in the Teacher Training Process: Its Emotional Response and Implications

Science Fair Project in the Teacher Training Process: Its Emotional Response and Implications

Miriam Andrea Hernández-Barco, Jesús Sánchez-Martín, Isaac Corbacho-Cuello, Florentina Cañada-Cañada
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-4287-6.ch017
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In this chapter, the authors describe a Star Wars scientific gamification experience, presented as a gymkhana with seven different activities to be carried out in the classroom. This proposal was designed to be done with prospective primary teachers during their science training studies. The prospective teachers have to observe, explore, experiment, and describe the different physical and chemical phenomena involved. The emotional response of prospective teachers was studied to describe their affective dimension after this “science fair.” Such gamification promotes high rates of positive emotions (such as surprise or curiosity) and very low rates of negative emotions (such as boredom or rejection). The affective domain should be considered during teacher training, which is possible with this kind of experience.
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Despite the need to have scientifically literate citizens, students are increasingly turning away from studying science subjects (Vázquez & Manassero, 2008). The current context of permanent change requires a versatile and resolute population capable of adapting to the uncertain times ahead. A solid basic scientific education helps to have a critical vision of the world and to make appropriate decisions. Educational institutions, especially universities, are responsible for providing the population with a foundation which then will facilitate and promote lifelong learning.

Higher education should not only serve to offer theoretical knowledge about various types of content but also to train students in how to behave when faced with different situations, to be able to reflect and make reasoned decisions. The functions of university education are not limited to professionalism and research, but also apply to an education adapted to the profile of the students themselves. However, despite the immense responsibility there should be towards the scientific education of the population, over the last few years there has been a noticeable abuse of the positivist orientation in science teaching. Science teaching has traditionally been done in a very different way to how science is actually carried out. This leads to numerous misconceptions among primary and secondary students about scientific concepts, as well as undesirable attitudes towards science (Vázquez & Manassero, 2007). A methodological change is required in order to eradicate these misconceptions and to enhance the affective dimension of students towards science. Gamification strategies has emerged as resource to improve the teaching and learning process.

The proposal that we shall be describing offers as a didactic resource a hybrid method of gamification together with inquiry. It was designed to enhance the affective dimension of prospective teachers. It consists of seven different activities to promote the students' engagement while learning in the context of a gamified subject set in “Star Wars”. Throughout the course, students can earn different badges and cards that will help them pass the exam and improve other cognitive and emotional skills. Inquiry fosters active learning and empowers students in their learning process. This type of method improves the student's autonomy and other soft skills (such as critical thinking, collaborative work, or creativity). Students become the protagonists of the teaching and learning process, and teachers only guide and help them through the activities the students themselves organize autonomously.

The main objective of the present research study was to analyse the emotional dimension of a sample of prospective teachers after implementing a gamified inquiry activity called “science fair”, set in “Star Wars” movies. The objective of the authors with this experience was to awaken positive emotions (such as joy, surprise, fun, or enthusiasm) towards science in a prospective teachers sample by making a change in the methodological approach that was aimed at enhancing emotional responses. In the literature, there is evidence for the transmission of emotions by teachers – in particular, the emotions experienced by the teacher are those they then transmit to their pupils (Frenzel et al., 2009, 2018; Olson et al., 2019; Poon et al., 2019). “Hard science” content should be worked on during primary education teacher training through methods that actively engage the students in order to foster their positive emotions and to ensure that the future transmission of content is done correctly without damaging their own pupils' emotional dimension, with a special emphasis on gender differences (Frenzel et al., 2007; Steegh et al., 2019).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Soft Skills: Skills other than cognitive skills that have to do with the students' social, personal, and emotional dimension, for example, the ability to speak in public, collaborative work, positive attitude, or responsibility.

Gamification: Didactic method that includes aspects of play (mechanical and dynamic), and that is aimed at improving students' motivation to achieve learning objectives.

Self-Efficacy: The teacher's perception of their own abilities to carry out a task or activity. It is closely related to self-concept, emotions, and knowledge of the subject.

Emotions: These are psycho-biological reactions that people experience with different intensity depending on the information and the perceptions they receive from the environment and after a subjective assessment that each person makes, and which directly affects their personal well-being.

Scientific literacy: Knowledge that the general population has about scientific procedures, methods, and ideas, which facilitates their being able to get involved, reflect, and make decisions related to scientific fields.

European Higher Education Area: Educational organization (founded in 1999) in the European Union with the aim of harmonizing the different European educational systems, constituting a flexible and common university system that facilitates the recognition of degrees and mobility throughout the European community.

Inquiry: Didactic method that comprises an intentional process directed by the teacher and based on the diagnosis of problems, research, debate, and construction of arguments following the scientific method, in order for the student independently to provide solutions to specific challenges.

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