“Feeling like a Scientist”: Factors Affecting Students’ Selections of Technology Tools in the Science Classroom

Dean Cairns, Martina Dickson, Melissa McMinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This research looked at the choices that children make in the classroom when offered manual and technological options to measure scientific variables. Over 170 school children were involved in science lessons designed in collaboration with school teachers and the research team as part of the planned curriculum. We found that approximately 25% of the students chose the manual measuring options, compared with 75% who chose the technological options. During the focus group interviews (n = 62) carried out immediately after the class, we found that some children who had selected the technological option had done so due to perceptions of the tool’s novelty and “accuracy.” Some later regretted their choice, reasoning that “real” scientists did not use technology, that it would have been more challenging to measure manually, and therefore that they would have “felt more like scientists” had they selected the manual option. Perceptions of ease of use sometimes lowered children’s intent to use the technology option. Similarly, students who chose the manual option alluded to the inauthenticity of the technology option: this is not “what scientists do.” Consequently, students who had selected the manual option were also more likely to describe feeling “like a scientist” when carrying out the measurements. The possible implications of the findings, in terms of a possible inversion of the technology acceptance model for students in the science classroom, are explored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-776
JournalJournal of Science Education and Technology
Volume30
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2021

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