Successful PhD defense of Moonika Teppo, partially supported by the SciCar Project

On 26. October at 14.00 Moonika Teppo defended her doctoral thesis ‘Predicting Lower Secondary School Students’ Intrinsic Motivation in Science Learning: the Role of Context and Teaching-Learning Approaches’. Her doctoral studies were partly supported by the scicar project. Her work was supervised by Professor Miia Rannikmäe and Associate Professor Regina Soobard from University of Tartu.

Moonika Teppo, PhD with her supervisors Miia Rannikmäe, PhD and Regina Soobard, PhD

Her PhD focused on one of the most crucial question in education – how to address students’ declining motivation in science learning, especially during adolescence, i. e. the period when students complete primary education and continue in secondary school. She focused on the role played by teaching-learning approaches and key components of context-based learning in predicting changes in students’ (grades 6 to 9) intrinsic motivation in science learning. She collected data as a part of a large-scale project from lower secondary school (grade 6 and 9) students and science teachers through electronic self-reported questionnaires. She designed a cross-sectional research throughout the thesis to collect data over a three-year period.

Moonika Teppo, PhD with her opponent, Kalle Juuti, PhD (University of Helsinki)

Her results showed a decline in students’ intrinsic motivation whereby grade 6 students perceived science learning more intrinsically motivational comparing to grade 9 students. Her studies also revealed that both grade 6 and 9 students value learning science topics presented in everyday life related (personal or social) context more highly compared to science subject related topics, yet everyday life related science topics predicted student intrinsic motivation the most strongly but had significantly less predictive effect with age. Agreeing with previous research in the literature, she also found that traditional approaches (e. g. lecturing, asking questions and class discussions) were perceived to be the main teaching-learning approaches commonly used in science lessons by students and science teachers, however the more frequent use of traditional approaches significantly predicted students’ intrinsic motivation in science learning compared to student-centred approaches (cooperative, experimental).

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