Fostering Better Engagement Among Male and Female Students in the Physics Laboratory
This article features a report on a PAREA research project conducted at Collège Shawinigan. Using observations from the laboratory, semi-directed interviews, and a questionnaire completed by the students and their teacher, the authors were able to study the impact of two types of experiments in the physics laboratory—i.e. traditional closed experiments and open experiments—on the commitment of male and female students in the Natural Science program. Observing whether the type of commitment varies according to the traditional closed or open experiments, they also verified if open experiments foster commitment and learning as much for females as for males. After examining the concept of commitment in detail, they go on to present and explain a model for categorizing the types of commitment in the laboratory. Their observations led them to two major findings: commitment behaviour varies according to the student’s gender, while the degree of cognitive commitment varies according to the type of laboratory. Finally, having fewer instructions than closed laboratories, open laboratories place both females and males in situations that force them to learn, they are faced with challenges that require them to act and to think in an autonomous way.
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