Comparing Pedagogical Approaches for Teaching the Control of Variables Strategy


In this study, an extension of Klahr and Nigam (2004), we tested 177 middle school students’ on their acquisition of the control of variables strategy (CVS) using an interactive virtual ramp environment. We compared the effectiveness of three pedagogical approaches, namely, direct instruction with reification, direct instruction without reification, and discovery learning, all of which were authored using the ASSISTment system. MANCOVAs showed that all conditions performed equally on a CVS multiple-choice post test, but that the two direct learning conditions (with and without reification) significantly outperformed the discovery learning condition for constructing unconfounded experiments starting from an initially multiply confounded experimental setup.

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