The Efficacy of Student-Centered Instruction in Supporting Science Learning
Transforming science learning through student-centered instruction that engages students in a variety of scientific practices is central to national science-teaching reform efforts. Our study employed a large-scale, randomized-cluster experimental design to compare the effects of student-centered and teacher-centered approaches on elementary school students’ understanding of space-science concepts. Data included measures of student characteristics and learning and teacher characteristics and fidelity to the instructional approach. Results reveal that learning outcomes were higher for students enrolled in classrooms engaging in scientific practices through a student-centered approach; two moderators were identified. A statistical search for potential causal mechanisms for the observed outcomes uncovered two potential mediators: students’ understanding of models and evidence and the self-efficacy of teachers.