Effect of hands-on science activities on Ghanaian student learning, attitudes, and career interest: A preliminary control study

Beem, Heather
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Global Journal of Transformative Education
A quasi-experimental study was carried out with 309 Form 3 students across 9 public Junior High Schools in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. The effect of Practical Education Network (PEN)’s approach of training STEM teachers to employ hands-on activities using low-cost, locally-available resources was studied in terms of student learning outcomes, attitudes towards learning science, and interest in STEM majors/ careers. Over a 2.5-month period, the science teacher at each experimental school received a weekly training on a hands-on activity and lesson observation by the respective PEN Trainer. A survey on attitudes towards science and a previous edition of the national exam (BECE) were administered to all students before and after the intervention. The mean pre-post differences were compared between the experimental and control schools. The intervention caused an average of 10.9% increase in exam scores (difference-in-differences), but the results were mixed at the school-level. Unpaired t-tests and Hedge’s g tests were used to determine statistical significance between the two groups. Student engagement increased significantly (p = 3 x 10 -7 , g = 0.85), and student enjoyment of science increased 22% more, on average. The intervention disproportionately affected the females positively, enabling greater learning gains (14.5% vs. 5.3% for the males), greater increase in engagement, and a significant shift in interest towards STEM majors and careers, which their male counterparts did not experience. Results from this study should inform the design of future studies with longer duration and which account for factors such as school infrastructure quality.
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Ghana, STEM, hands-on activities, attitudes, junior high school
Beem, H. (2020). Effect of Hands-on Science Activities on Ghanaian Student Learning, Attitudes, and Career Interest: A Preliminary Control Study. Global Journal of Transformative Education, 2(1).