Hypothesis generation, how to put students into motion?
Xiulin Kuang is a PhD student in the department Instructional Technology. Supervisor is prof.dr. A.J.M. de Jong and co-supervisor is dr. T.H.S. Eijsink from the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences.
Hypothesis generation, one of the major processes of inquiry learning, is a process to organize what you know about a domain to make sense of a problem and to organize tentative answers as testable propositions to guide further investigation. It is a good starting point for students to get cognitively engaged in the inquiry activity. However, students frequently experience difficulties in hypothesis generation. Hypothesis generation is an important but challenging process which needs to be supported. Hence, this dissertation aimed to investigate possible ways to support hypothesis generation by students during inquiry learning.
An ultimate goal of providing instructional support is to provide students with a learning activity in which freedom and support are well-balanced. To achieve this goal, three different types of support were designed, implemented, and investigated in the three studies involved in this dissertation, attempting to explore effective, and if possible, just-enough support to facilitate students’ hypothesis generation.
Results indicated that providing students with partial hypotheses and giving students adaptive domain information (together with an aligned hypothesis scratchpad) were two effective interventions for improving students’ performance in generating hypotheses. Providing partial hypotheses may also foster students’ knowledge acquisition. The findings of the present dissertation imply that providing partial hypotheses, which steer students to informative hypotheses while allowing them to bring in their own ideas when completing the incomplete parts, might be the appropriate level of support for secondary school students with relatively low prior knowledge of the domain and limited or no experience in inquiry learning.