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Topic: Bao et al.'s Comparison of Learning and Scientific Reasoning in
Chinese & U.S. Schools: Alternate Conclusions and Recommendations

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Richard Hake

Posts: 1,248
From: Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Registered: 12/4/04
Bao et al.'s Comparison of Learning and Scientific Reasoning in
Chinese & U.S. Schools: Alternate Conclusions and Recommendations

Posted: Feb 7, 2012 10:10 PM
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Some subscribers to MathEdCC might be interested in an article "Bao
et al.'s Comparison of Learning and Scientific Reasoning in Chinese &
U.S. Schools: Alternate Conclusions and Recommendations" [Hake
(2012)]. The abstract reads:

************************************************
ABSTRACT: The features, findings, conclusions, and recommendations of
the valuable "Science" report "Learning and Scientific Reasoning:
Comparisons of Chinese and U.S. students show that content knowledge
and reasoning skills diverge" by Bao et al. (2009) are summarized.

The primary feature is that Chinese and U.S. students enrolled in
introductory physics courses for science and engineering majors in
medium-rated universities were tested near the start of classes with
the "Force Concept Inventory" (FCI), the "Brief Electricity and
Magnetism Assessment" (BEMA), and the "Lawson Classroom Test of
Scientific Reasoning" (LCTSR).

The primary finding is that although Chinese students' averaged
scores on the FCI and BEMA indicated *good conceptual understanding*
of basic physics areas, and were, respectively, 1.9 and 2.9 standard
deviations above those of U.S. students, their scores on the LCTSR
were about the same as those of the U.S. students: at the low end of
Lawson's hypothetical-deductive reasoning range.

Bao et al. draw the conclusion that "CURRENT EDUCATION AND ASSESSMENT
IN THE STEM DISCIPLINES OFTEN EMPHASIZES FACTUAL RECALL OVER DEEP
UNDERSTANDING OF SCIENCE REASONING" and recommend that researchers
and educators (1) "invest more in the development of a balanced
method of education, such as incorporating more *inquiry-based
learning*," and (2) measure "not only content knowledge but also
other factors so as to obtain a more holistic evaluation of students."

I criticize the Bao et al. report on two counts: (1) the conclusion
doesn't follow from the findings; and (2) the recommendations are
either ambiguous, problematic, or invalid.

A conclusion consistent with the findings is: AVERAGE SCORES BY BOTH
CHINESE AND U.S. FRESHMEN ON FCI, BEMA, AND LCTSR INDICATE THAT K-12
STEM EDUCATION IN BOTH THOSE COUNTRIES EMPHASIZES FACTUAL RECALL OVER
CONCEPTUAL UNDERSTANDING AND SCIENTIFIC REASONING.

Recommendations that are, in my view, less ambiguous, less
problematic, and more valid are: K-12 EDUCATORS SHOULD (1) utilize
interactive engagement, inquiry, cognitive enhancement methods, and
tests of reasoning; (2) emphasize a few fundamental concepts of STEM;
and (3) develop age-appropriate assessments of concepts,
epistemological beliefs, learning attitudes, and reasoning so as to
*formatively* assess the effectiveness of their teaching methods. In
addition, IN THE U.S. EFFORTS SHOULD BE MADE TO (4) reduce poverty,
(5) upgrade the education, salary, and prestige of K-12 teachers, and
(6) establish National Education Standards.
************************************************

To access the complete 385 kB article please click on <http://bit.ly/zQfIdo>.

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands
President, PEdants for Definitive Academic References which Recognize the
Invention of the Internet (PEDARRII)
<rrhake@earthlink.net>
<http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~hake>
<http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~sdi>
<http://HakesEdStuff.blogspot.com>
<http://iub.academia.edu/RichardHake>

"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."
H. G. Wells (1920) in "The Outline of History"


REFERENCES [URL shortened by <http://bit.ly/> and accessed on 07 Feb 2012.]
Bao, L., T. Cai, K. Koenig, K. Fang, J. Han, J. Wang, Q. Liu, L.
Ding, L. Cui, Y. Luo, Y. Wang, L. Li, & N. Wu. 2009a. "Learning and
Scientific Reasoning: Comparisons of Chinese and U.S. students show
that content knowledge and reasoning skills diverge." Science
323(5914): 586 - 587, 30 January; online as a 184 kB pdf at
<http://bit.ly/90sdAG>; supporting material is online as a 152 kB pdf
at <http://bit.ly/aNmbVz>. See also the longer report "Learning of
content knowledge and development of scientific reasoning ability: A
cross culture comparison" [Bao et al. (2009b)].

Bao, L., K. Fang, T. Cai, J. Wang, L. Yang, L. Cui, J. Han, L. Ding,
& Y. Luo. 2009b. "Learning of content knowledge and development of
scientific reasoning ability: A cross culture comparison." Am. J.
Phys. 77(12): 1118-1123; online to subscribers at
<http://bit.ly/wV1wbe>.

Hake , R.R. 2012. "Bao et al.'s Comparison of Learning and Scientific
Reasoning in Chinese & U.S. Schools: Alternate Conclusions and
Recommendations," online as a 385 kB pdf at <http://bit.ly/zQfIdo>.
The abstract and link to the complete article are being transmitted
to various discussion lists and are also on my blog "Hake'sEdStuff"
at <http://bit.ly/zM0Jqi> with a provision for comments.

Wells, H.G. 1920. "The Outline of History." For a Wikipedia entry
which discusses the interesting history of this treatise see
<http://bit.ly/yCkMjN>. For Amazon.com information on a two volume
set published in 1949 by Garden City Books see
<http://amzn.to/yvpDwU>.



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