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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Investigation of learning by discovery Bergsma, Marshall

Abstract

The problem was to determine whether or not a discovery method of teaching for transfer was superior to an expository-method of teaching for transfer. The experiment was a comparison of the transfer effects of an unverbalized awareness and a verbal reception method of instruction. It was expected to have implications regarding the theories of Hendrix and Ausubel about transfer of training. The central problem was to compare the transfer effects of eliminating or delaying the verbalization by students of their discoveries, with those obtained by didactic presentation using Ausubel's "introductory organizers". The experiment involved ten eighth grade classes taught by six teachers. All classes and teachers were from the public school system of British Columbia. Four classes were taught by each of the experimental methods and two classes comprised a control group. The teaching involved four days of instruction on some of the introductory aspects of the language of sets. A test for transfer was administered on the fifth day. An attempt was made to ensure that the essential difference between the experimental methods lay in the unverbalized awareness - verbal reception variable rather than in some other variable. For example, the amount of teaching time, the sequence of presentation of the topics, the number and kinds of examples used, and the daily assignments were the same for each group. The mental age and the previous mathematics achievement of the groups were covaried. The verbal reception samples scored higher on the transfer task than the unverbalized awareness samples, when initial differences on these covariates were statistically eliminated. The differences were not significant at the five percent level. It was concluded that, under conditions which existed in this experiment, there was no basis for considering either method to be superior in facilitating transfer.

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