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Traditional ‘chalk and talk’ no longer the norm

  • Exploring fun ways to get students hooked on science and mathematics at early stages of development is critical to students’ later development of love for science and math tasks, according to Dr. Patrice Pinder, an expert in research project development, grant writing and K—12 teacher training.

Published: Jul 17, 2017

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The traditional “chalk and talk” teaching method is no longer considered the norm in motivating students to learn. Instead, creative and innovative teaching tools and strategies are now considered the ideal in making lessons more appealing to students, particularly at the primary school level, and specifically in subjects such as mathematics and science.

Exploring fun ways to get students hooked on science and mathematics at early stages of development is critical to students’ later development of love for science and math tasks, according to Dr. Patrice Pinder, an expert in research project development, grant writing and K-12 teacher training.

Dr. Pinder says game-based learning in Bahamian schools, particularly at the primary school level, can be employed as a teaching strategy in mathematics and science classrooms in order to improve students’ performance in the subjects.

It is with these beliefs that Dr. Pinder created and designed two educational research projects to explore the effects/benefits of game-based learning on primary students’ achievement in mathematics and science.

Her research, conducted in Trinidad (southern Caribbean); Atlanta, Georgia; and Baltimore, Maryland (United States), showed positive gains in students’ achievement after introducing games into their learning process. There was positive feedback from teachers surveyed, with most educators holding the view that game-based learning can be highly effective in simplifying concepts for primary students, and that game-based learning is an effective strategy for assessing primary students’ skills.

Dr. Pinder presented the results of her findings at the Eastern Educational Research Association Conference and the Trinidadian Ministry of Education’s Brown Bag Research Session on game-based learning in primary STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) instruction. She has also published a book chapter and two international journal articles that currently inform K–12 educational practices in the United States, Trinidad and other regions.

Project one, entitled “Game-Based Learning in Primary STEM Instruction in Trinidad and Tobago”, involved two components — a teacher training component involved training teachers on effective ways to implement games into their lessons or curriculum content.

The teacher training sessions were held for primary and non-primary school teachers and about 70 school teachers from Trinidad’s University Primary School and El Dorado West Secondary School. They were trained in the use of games as educational tools.

“The critical research component, which assessed the benefits or effects to students’ achievement and teachers’ teaching strategy of using science and math games in lessons/curriculum content, was the key part of the project,” said Dr. Pinder.

“The mixed-methods, quantitative plus qualitative elements combined research component, utilized primary school teachers and students. To determine the effectiveness of the use of game-based learning tools and strategy, two evaluations occurred — student evaluation, an assessment of students’ science and math test scores before and after incorporation of games into lessons; and teacher evaluation — teachers were allowed to complete a survey and to participate in interview sessions, which allowed their perceptions and views on the benefits of game-based learning to be given.”

Project two, entitled “Utilizing Instructional Games as an Innovative Tool to Improve Science Learning among Elementary School Students”, was conducted in the USA. Similar to the Trinidadian project, the American study also involved a research component, which assessed student level data from test scores and assessed teachers’ views and perceptions of game-based learning.

Dr. Pinder said data findings from the American study were similar to that of the Trinidadian study, in that students were found to do better on their science tests after their teachers employed the game-based learning strategy. She also said teachers thought fondly of the use of games in their classes.

Beside her game-based learning research, Dr. Pinder is currently working on another research project that looks at and compares Afro-Caribbean and African immigrant students’ performances in STEM in the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom. In conducting this research piece, she is currently posing questions to and revisiting Dr. John Ogbu’s (former University of California at Berkeley professor) 20-year-old cultural-ecological theory with an eye on proposing her alternative — “biological-cultural/genetic-hereditarian-cultural theoretical model” — as a better theoretical model to effectively explain and account for why some African immigrants are outperforming their Afro-Caribbean peers in STEM disciplines in the UK.



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