Démarche d’investigation dans l’enseignement des sciences de la nature à l’école primaire

Effets sur la motivation et les représentations des élèves et conséquences sur la formation des enseignants


  • Laurent Dubois
  • Andreas Müller
  • Marine Delaval




Purpose: In the current study, we investigate the effects of new science & technology teaching materials and sequences for primary school with a focus on inquiry on aspects related to motivation (pleasure, academic self-concept/perceived competence) as well as student ideas about of science (scientific approach, usefulness of science).

Sample/Setting: Participants (N = 180) were from ten 5th and 6th year classes of primary schools in the canton of Geneva (international classification: ISCED 2, UNESCO 2011). They followed one among five newly designed learning sequences with 4 lessons (90 min. each) over 2 months.

Design and Methods: In a quasi-experimental pre / post design, the three dimensions “Usefulness of Science”, “Scientific approach” and “Perceived Competence in Science” were assessed by a questionnaire. Internal consistency was acceptable to good (αC = 0.72, 0.75, 0.66 at pre-test, respectively; similar at post-test). An ANCOVA with sequence type and measurement time as independent variables and gender as covariate was carried out. Effect sizes are reported as Cohen d.

Results: The sequences as a whole show a positive effect on the understanding of the scientific approach (d = 0.28), no effect on perceived competence, and a negative effect on perceived utility (d = – 0.27). Some interesting findings result from more detailed analysis: Girls benefit more from the learning sequences than boys: for understanding of the scientific approach and perceived science competence a difference to the disadvantage of girls was found before the learning sequences (d = – 0.38, – 0.36, respectively), but not after; understanding of the scientific approach improves for girls (d = 0.5), but not for boys, and perceived science competence stays stable for girls, but decreases for boys (d = –0.37). Note that while most of these effects are small, they occurred after a rather short teaching time (360 min.), indicating that they are worth of interest.

Conclusions/Implications for classroom practice and future research: While there are some positive effects by the introduction of new teaching sequences like the ones studied here, there are also negative findings (e.g. for perceived utility), and positive ones are inconsistent for boys and girls, and across types of sequence. To see practices evolve and really have a lasting impact on students' motivation and ideas about science developing a few new sequences is probably not enough. A systemic change including a coherent, continued development of several sequences, an intensification of initial and continuous training, and an institutional upgrading of science education seem essential.

Keywords: Inquiry based learning, motivation, self-concept, nature of science, science beliefs, Démarche d’investigation, motivation, concept de soi, nature de la science, représentations

Author Biographies

Laurent Dubois

Section des sciences de l’éducation, Faculté de psychologie et des sciences de l’éducation, Université de Genève

Andreas Müller

Professeur à la Faculté des Sciences, Section de Physique et Institut Universitaire de Formation des Enseignants, Université de Genève

Marine Delaval

Faculté des Sciences, Section de Physique et Institut Universitaire de Formation des Enseignants, Université de Genève.

INSPÉ Académie de Lille - Hauts de France et Univ. Lille, ULR 4072 - PSITEC - Psychologie : Interactions Temps Émotions Cognition, F-59000 Lille, France.